Colts vs Lions: Week 3 NFL preseason preview

The Indianapolis Colts face the Detroit Lions in NFL preseason Week 3. Our Colts vs Lions preview examines game info, key matchups to watch and offers predictions for the contest.

Colts vs Lions: What you need to know

  • The Lions host the Colts at Ford Field on Friday, August 27 at 7:00 p.m. EST on FOX59 and FOX 2
  • Sportsnaut says the Colts beat the Lions, 17-13
  • Odds: Colts are 2.5-point favorites with the over/under set at 34

Find out where the Colts and Lions land in Sportsnaut’s NFL power rankings

Colts’ offensive line vs. Lions defensive line

Colts vs Lions
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

While injuries are always a problem in training camp, it’s been really bad for the Colts. Indianapolis knew left tackle Eric Fisher (Achilles) wouldn’t be available in training camp, but center Ryan Kelly and guard Quenton Nelson have also been sidelined. It’s created opportunities for backups, which might come in handy against Detroit’s front.

  • Backup Plan: If all goes well, Nelson and Kelly will be cleared for the regular season. However, those injury scares demonstrate the importance of having reliable depth. Sam Tevi and Julie’n Davenport should both see significant snaps in this matchup. This will be an important game because neither player has made a strong enough impression to earn the starting spot at left tackle.
  • Let them Loose: With the Lions in a rebuild, the 2021 season is about development. So, while many see the final preseason game as meaningless, this is a valuable opportunity for many on the roster. Levi Onwuzurike, Da’Shawn Hand, Julian Okwara and John Penisin could each have a big moment against Indianapolis.

Click here for our latest 2021 NFL defense rankings

Advantage: Detroit Lions

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Sam Ehlinger vs David Blough

Colts vs Lions, Sam Ehlinger
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

A few months ago, the idea of Sam Ehlinger seemed doubtful. The former Texas Longhorns star had a great college career, is an incredible leader and is an inspiration to many. But the physical tools to be an NFL quarterback aren’t there, which made him a strong cut candidate. That view has changed thanks to training camp and preseason action.

Click here for our Indianapolis Colts preview and 2021 predictions

On the other side, David Blough is fighting for the Lions’ No. 3 quarterback spot. He made five starts for Detroit in 2019, throwing for nearly 1,000 yards with four touchdown passes. Even if he doesn’t make Detroit’s 53-man roster, the final preseason game is for all 32 teams to watch.

  • Finding a Way: Watch any Texas game last season, it was evident that Ehlinger lacked NFL-caliber arm strength. But he’s a dual-threat quarterback with composure and a high football IQ, qualities that are earning him some buzz in Indianapolis. If he delivers a preseason victory, with the uncertainty surrounding Carson Wentz, he might grab a roster spot.
  • Showcase Game: When Detroit signed Tim Boyle as its backup quarterback this offseason, the clock started ticking on David Blough. Under the circumstances, he wasn’t horrible in very limited snaps in 2020. If the Lions don’t have a roster spot for him, Blough can show other general managers Friday why he can be a serviceable backup.

Advantage: David Blough

Lions’ wide receivers vs Colts’ defensive backs

Syndication: Detroit Free Press
Detroit Lions wide receiver Quintez Cephus (87) during organized team activities at Lions headquarters in Allen Park, Thursday, May 27, 2021.

One of the final matchups we’re looking forward to in the Colts vs Lions contest is the receiver-cornerback battle. Indianapolis won’t let veteran cornerbacks like Xavier Rhodes see the field in this game, but others like Rock Ya-Sin, Isaiah Rodgers and Marvel Tell III will see the field. On the other side, Detroit’s receiving corps will look to flash their potential.

  • No Fly Zone: Indianapolis will look to control the air space against the Lions with zone coverage. For a depth chart that has some experience, zone coverage gives them an advantage. Detroit’s young pass-catching weapons aren’t as familiar with NFL coverages, which could play into the Colts’ favor.
  • Cephus and Amon-Ra: There are two wide receivers we’re really keeping an eye on in Detroit. Amon-Ra St. Brown, a fourth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, could be one of the more unheralded rookie receivers in 2021. As for Quintez Cephus, the second-year wideout is one of the few pass-catchers who can deliver explosive plays. Both should see decent run against the Colts.

Advantage: Indianapolis Colts

The bottom line: The final week of the NFL’s preseason schedule kicks off with the Colts and Lions. Neither team offers a top rookie that fans must watch, but there are plenty of storylines and position battles that everyone should be watching closely before roster cuts are made.