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Rams vs Colts: NFL Week 2 preview

Matt Johnson

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The Los Angeles Rams (1-0) face the Indianapolis Colts in Week 2 of the 2021 NFL season. A clash between Matthew Stafford and Carson Wentz should offer plenty of entertainment.

Our Rams vs Colts preview examines the game info, odds and specific matchups that will decide Sunday’s contest.

Find out where the Rams and Colts land in our latest NFL power rankings

Rams vs Colts: What you need to know

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Matthew Stafford vs Jared Goff

Rams vs Colts, Carson Wentz
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Stafford and Sean McVay were smiling all night against the Chicago Bears. The veteran quarterback launched a 67-yard touchdown strike on just his second pass attempt. Finishing the night with 321 passing yards and three touchdowns, the night went about as perfectly as one could hope. As for this upcoming matchup, there will be opportunities to exploit the Colts.

Click here for our Los Angeles Rams game predictions

Wentz made his Colts’ debut in Week 1, throwing two touchdowns and finishing with a 102.0 passer rating. It certainly feels like a great performance, but one of those touchdowns came with the game decided in the closing seconds. He faces a much tougher challenge in Week 2 against the Rams.

  • Change of Scenery: A great coaching staff seemed to get the most out of Stafford as he set a career-high for passer rating (156.1). Stafford also threw deep (20-plus yards downfield) on 15.4% of his throws, per Pro Football Focus, far more than Jared Goff (7.8%) last year.
  • Play it Safe: Frank Reich made sure Wentz wasn’t at further risk behind an offensive line that couldn’t protect him. According to Pro Football Focus, 39.% of his throws were between 0-9 yards, 15.8% were intermedia (10-19 yards) compared to a 5.3% deep-throw rate.

Advantage: Matthew Stafford

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Sean McVay vs Matt Eberflus

Rams vs Colts, Sean McVay
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus has been interviewed several times for head-coaching opportunities. Frankly, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he is one of the most coveted candidates in the 2022 coaching cycle. Viewed as one of the best defensive coordinators in the NFL, the Rams vs Colts matchup is a showcase game for him.

Dive into our Indianapolis Colts 2021 season projection

On the others side, McVay is enjoying life. He badly wanted a quarterback who could rip the ceiling off the passing attack that Goff created. We saw that change in effect against the Bears’ woeful secondary. While the Colts have a better reputation, Xavier Rhodes is out Week 2 and that means big plays for the Rams’ receivers.

  • Follow the Pattern: Doug Farrar of The Touchdown Wire brilliantly detailed how the Seahawks’ passing offense was so successful against the Colts in Week 1. Eberflus put two safeties back and the explosive Tyler Lockett (100 yards, 2 TDs on four catches) took advantage of the deep middle. McVay certainly saw what his former pass-game coordinator Shane Waldron did and may have similar plans with Cooper Kupp.
  • Overrated?: The Colts’ defense earned a strong reputation by the midway point of the 2021 season, many even viewed this as one of the best groups in the NFL. But across the team’s past eight games, opposing quarterbacks have a 17-4 TD-INT ratio and a passer rating above 110. Reality is different than narrative.

Advantage: Sean McVay

Aaron Donald vs Colts’ offensive line

Rams vs Colts, Aaron Donald
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It took until the final Bears’ offensive drive for Aaron Donald to appear in the box score. But after setting up his teammates for pressures and sacks early, the future Hall of Famer got his moment. He’s impossible to stop across four quarters and Indianapolis is about to learn that real soon.

See where the Rams and Colts land in our NFL defense rankings

This is going to be a challenge for Ryan Kelly. He missed a significant portion of training camp with an elbow injury and appeared rusty against Seattle’s interior defensive line. While the Colts have faced Donald before (2017), this will be Kelly’s first time against him. He’s going to need help and that comes with drawbacks.

  • No Hope: Trash-talking an opponent only works when they know what you’re saying is true. When Donald tells offensive linemen they “have no chance” it’s pure honesty. Donald’s pass-rush win rate (35.2%), per Pro Football Focus, is six points higher than the next closest player. He is legitimately one of the best defensive players in NFL history.
  • Trouble in Indiana: One would expect the highest-paid offensive line in the NFL would keep the pocket clean for Wentz, but that didn’t happen. Seattle’s pass rush isn’t exactly daunting and it still finished with 14 hits and four sacks. That spells trouble for the Colts’ offense in Week 2.
  • New Injury: Indianapolis will be without right tackle Braden Smith on Sunday, as if this Rams vs Colts matchup couldn’t get more one-sided. Facing backup offensive tackles, Los Angeles is going to send relentless pressure. That’s going to make life easier for Donald, too.

Advantage: Aaron Donald

The bottom line: There’s always some difficulty balancing overreactions vs analyzing results from Week 1. But even before the season opener, we were fairly confident Los Angeles was significantly better than Indianapolis. We expect that to play out in this Rams vs Colts game, a potential two-score outcome.