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Week 7 Preview: Saints at Colts

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New Orleans Saints (2-4) at Indianapolis Colts (3-3)

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis – TV: FOX

*TV announcers: Sam Rosen, John Lynch, Pam Oliver

*Keys to the game: Left for dead in mid-September, the Saints are fighting their way out of it thanks to QB Drew Brees, who has three straight 300-yard passing games. Offensive line injuries are a factor in the game plan. RBs Mark Ingram and C.J. Spiller are in line for a healthy workout considering the Colts’ issues winning in the trenches, but New Orleans is 31st in the NFL in rushing. That might feed into a plan with Brees controlling the ball with short, high-percentage passes and attacking Colts CB Greg Toler, who has been inconsistent.

Slowing the pace and playing physical suits the Saints’ plan to keep QB Andrew Luck and the Colts on the sideline. RB Frank Gore has been effective as the Colts continue to strive for balanced offense. Injuries in the Saints’ secondary, including LCB Keenan Lewis (hip) and FS Jairus Byrd (knee), make a pass-heavy attack more attractive this week. New Orleans is dead last in total defense (409.7 yards per game) but the five sacks of Falcons QB Matt Ryan – and 13 total hits – last week should give Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton pause about exposing Luck to more punishment.

*Matchup to watch – Colts WR T.Y. Hilton vs. Saints secondary: Lewis (hip) played only eight snaps last week and reportedly saw a specialist earlier this week. While New Orleans held up against Julio Jones and Roddy White to beat the Falcons, Hilton, Andre Johnson and second-year WR Donte Moncrief are as good a trio as the Saints have faced this season.

*Player spotlight – Saints K Kai Forbath: Zack Hocker is gone after six games and coach Sean Payton said fixing the kicking game could be that something that was missing. Forbath, who made 60 of 69 career field-goal attempts (87.0 percent) in four seasons with the Redskins, was released by Washington after the first game of the season.

*Fast facts: Gore leads active players with 11,476 career rushing yards. … The Saints have started five different players at left tackle in six games.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

A shootout could be coming and the Colts are the healthiest team in this game. Indianapolis must take care of the ball and avoid braindead decisions, but the Colts should be able to call their shots offensively.

*Our pick: Colts 29-24.


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