Burning questions for Colts vs. Saints on ‘Monday Night Football’

By Jesse Reed
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

In a game with playoff implications, the Indianapolis Colts will be in the Bayou for a “Monday Night Football” showdown against the New Orleans Saints.

The Saints have already clinched the NFC South but are still playing for a first-round bye. The Colts are in must-win mode to make the playoffs at all, entering Week 15 as the No. 10 seed in the AFC with a 6-7 record.

Looking ahead to this pivotal “Monday Night Football” matchups, these are the biggest questions that will need to be answered to determine the outcome.

Will T.Y. Hilton play?

The Colts have not had T.Y. Hilton on the field since Nov. 21st. He’s been out with a calf injury that had him limited during practices this past week, and on Saturday Hilton did not practice at all. Per the Colts, he’s a game-time decision on Monday night.

When Hilton is healthy, he’s exceptionally dangerous. Through seven games played in 2019, the speedy receiver has hauled in 35 passes for 378 yards and five touchdowns. In a game that figures to feature some scoring, the Colts would obviously have a much better shot at pulling off the upset if Hilton plays.

Can Darius Leonard rally Indy’s D?

The Colts have been getting scorched by opposing offenses over the past month, and the past two games have been disastrous as the Titans and Buccaneers racked up 69 combined points.

Colts linebacker Darius Leonard has played well, however, and last weekend he had an epic game that included two interceptions and one pick-six. But overall, Leonard’s heroics haven’t been enough to inspire outstanding play from his teammates.

Somehow, the second-year superstar needs to find a way to rally his defense to play the best game of the season. If that doesn’t happen, chances are, the Colts will lose and see their playoff dreams die.

How much will loss of Marcus Davenport hurt Saints?

In his second year, Marcus Davenport was coming on strong for the Saints. Last year’s first-round pick out of Texas-San Antonio had six sacks, five tackles for a loss and three forced fumbles. And with that production came an added benefit, which is that veteran Cameron Jordan was getting more one-on-one opportunities on the other side.

Unfortunately, the second-year Saints star edge rusher suffered a foot injury last weekend against the San Francisco 49ers. He’s out the rest of the season. It’s going to be interesting to see who, if anyone, can step up in Davenport’s stead this Monday night — not to mention the rest of the way.

Can anyone slow down Michael Thomas?

Few teams have slowed down Michael Thomas, who’s once again threatening an NFL record. With 121 catches already, Thomas has the most receptions in a team’s first 13 games in NFL history, per NFL.com. With that in mind, he is very much in play to break Marvin Harrison’s record of 143 receptions (2002) in a single season.

So, it goes without saying that the Colts will have a much better chance of winning Monday night if they can find a way to keep Thomas from having a field day.

Can Jacoby Brissett catch fire?

There are many reasons the Colts are nine-point road dogs for this coming “Monday Night Football” matchup against the Saints. One of the biggest is that Drew Brees is much more dependable than Jacoby Brissett.

In fact, after a very nice start to the season, Brissett has cooled off in a big way, averaging just under 212 passing yards per game in his last four while throwing just four touchdowns with three interceptions.

Another mediocre outing by Brissett will almost certainly doom the Colts. Can he step up his game? Getting Hilton back would help for sure.