After months of reloading, speculation, and hype, the new version of the Indianapolis Colts will take the field for their first regular season showcase at Soldier Field in Chicago. The Colts will attempt to ruin the home opener for the Chicago Bears, who have done some reloading of their own.
For the first time in a long time, the Chicago offense might be more of a threat than their aging defense. All-pro running back Matt Forte is back in the fold, after off-season contract issues. The Bears also added to their arsenal by bringing wide receiver Brandon Marshall in from Miami, to give quarterback Jay Cutler a familiar top-notch target. The pair formerly excelled and gelled as part of the Denver Broncos.
Sunday will also mark the much-awaited and highly-anticipated debut of rookie quarterback Andrew Luck. Luck will be joined by several new faces to the franchise, including two rookie tight ends, Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, who were drafted in the second and third rounds behind him. The Colts could also be using as many as four running backs in their ground game rotation.
Protection of Luck will be key. The young quarterback saw limited playing time in the preseason, partly due to the fact that he was on the run a lot from incoming defenders. Facing the Monsters of the Midway in week one will be a daunting task, that will test the mettle and the coordination of the Indianapolis offensive line immediately. The Bears will be coming at Luck early and often, in attempts to pressure and rattle the rookie. No matter how impressive Luck has been up to this point, he won’t be able to make much magic if he’s on the run or on his back all day.
The Colts will have to try and slow the game down. Getting into a shootout with Chicago will force Luck to pass more than he should, allowing defensive end Julius Peppers free reign to give chase. If the Colts can establish a solid running game, they can control the clock and keep the score low. If Marshall and Cutler connect early and take a quick lead, it could be a long day for the Colts in Chicago.
Prediction – Bears 26, Colts 20