NFL Football Preview: Indianapolis Colts at San Francisco 49ers

NFL Football Preview:  Indianapolis Colts at San Francisco 49ers

Storylines a-plenty in this Sunday afternoon game. Colts’ quarterback Andrew Luck is not only returning to the Bay Area after playing his college football at Stanford he’s also going to be facing his college coach in Jim Harbaugh. It’s unlikely that Luck will catch his old coach feeling especially wistful upon his return. Luck and Harbaugh are on good terms but the Niners as a team will be in an ornery mood coming off an embarrassing loss to their divisional rival Seattle on national TV last week. The Colts are also coming off a loss, having been upset at home by the Miami Dolphins last week.

Indianapolis saw an impressive improvement to their fortunes last year going from a 2-14 season in 2011 to go 11-5 in 2012. Andrew Luck is a high level quarterback though its important to keep in mind that he’s only in his second season. Learning to play quarterback in the NFL is one of the most challenging tasks in professional sports so there may still be a ‘learning curve’ with the heady Luck. There’s a lot to suggest that Indianapolis may regress this year. The Colts benefited from a weak schedule last season–and got their fair share ‘lucky breaks’–but there is still work to be done throughout the lineup. The Colts did make a very nice pickup last week adding running back Trent Richardson but it’ll take some time integrating him into the offense.

San Francisco is considered one of the ‘teams to beat’ early in the 2013 campaign–they improved dramatically last year after Colin Kaepernick took over at quarterback for the limited Alex Smith. The Niners do have injuries to deal with–they’ll be without their best wide receiver, Michael Crabtree, for the foreseeable future. Nickle back Chris Culliver is also injured and will be out for some time. They lost Pro Bowl safety Dashon Goldson to free agency. Frank Gore is a moose and one of the toughest running backs in the league but he’s turning 30 this year and that’s an age where many running backs start to loss their effectiveness. On the plus side, the Niners’ defensive front is among the best in the league.

We look for the ferocious Niners pass rush to make life hard on Luck all day and the entire defense to make a statement after they were outplayed in Seattle. Just a bad matchup for the Colts.