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Arizona Cardinals

Updated Nov 22, 2013 - 2:35 pm

Behind Enemy Lines: Indianapolis Colts

After allowing the Jacksonville Jaguars to score the first 10 minutes of Sunday's game, the Arizona Cardinals came alive, scoring the final 20 points of the afternoon en route to a 27-14 road victory.

With the win, Arizona extended its win streak to a season-high three games and in the process surpassed its win total from all of 2012.

The Cardinals now return home to take on another AFC South foe, the Indianapolis Colts, in a showdown that could very well dictate how realistic their playoff hopes are.

While Arizona is vying for one of the NFC's final two Wild Card spots, Indianapolis heads to Glendale in full control of its division, sporting a three-game lead over the Tennessee Titans.

Although the Colts look poised for a second straight postseason appearance, it hasn't been a cake walk for Andrew Luck and Co. of late. After impressive wins over the Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks, the Colts have not played awe-inspiring football.

The team's last two wins over the Houston Texans and Titans required double-digit second-half comebacks and sandwiched in the middle was a 38-8 home shellacking at the hands of the St. Louis Rams.

In addition to what Sunday's matchup could mean in terms of playoff implications, the game will serve as a reunion of sorts for Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians and his former team.

Arians was hired as the Colts' offensive coordinator before the 2012 season, but after head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia early on in the campaign, the long-time coordinator took over the coaching duties on an interim basis.

Under Arians' guidance, Indianapolis finished a surprising 11-5 and clinched a berth in the 2012 playoffs. For his efforts, Arians was named the NFL Coach of the Year.

Here's what is happening in Indianapolis ahead of what should be an emotional non-conference showdown.

Friday, November 22

• Toler, Havili ruled out against Arizona (ESPN.com)

The Indianapolis Colts will be without starting cornerback Greg Toler and fullback Stanley Havili for Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals.

• Double Coverage: Colts at Cardinals (ESPN.com)

Yes, there's a football game being played in the desert on Sunday.

With all the hype surrounding the matchup of Arizona coach Bruce Arians facing the Indianapolis Colts for the first time since he was their interim coach in 2012, it's easy to forget that a game will kick off.

• Kravitz: Colts take chances at end of roster (IndyStar.com)

As you've probably noticed, Colts general manager Ryan Grigson has recently populated the back end of his roster with guys whose checkered histories suggest they are not "horseshoe guys."

• Colts must run, defend pass at Arizona (Colts.com)

The Colts are 6-1 when topping 100 rushing yards, and they will be facing an Arizona defense that yields 81.4 yards per game, the NFL's second-lowest average. Getting an eighth win could be contingent on rushing success. So will defending a downfield passing attack.

• Seven Victory Keys, Arizona (Colts.com)

Indianapolis has won three of its past four games and has reached 7-3 with six games left in the season.

A resilient Colts team has fought through slow starts and personnel losses to sit currently in the AFC's second playoff seed.

Nothing is clinched, but the positioning for Indianapolis is good through 10 games. Cory Redding says the team has come too far in two years not to capitalize on where it sits and for where it wants to go.


Thursday, November 21

• Colts secondary will be tested in Arizona (ESPN.com)

The good news for the Indianapolis Colts is that they know Bruce Arians' Arizona Cardinals will throw the ball downfield a lot in Sunday's game. The Colts did the same thing under Arians last season.

The bad news is that Indianapolis' secondary has a tendency to give up big plays.

• Colts helped Arians prepare to lead Cards (ESPN.com)

There wasn't a playbook or film for Bruce Arians to study last year when Chuck Pagano called to tell him the news. Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia and would be leaving the Indianapolis Colts. He handed the keys to Arians and began fighting for his life.

• Jim Irsay's wife files for divorce (ESPN.com)

The Irsays issued a statement saying Jim Irsay will maintain 100 percent ownership and total control of the team.

• Can Colts TE Fleener fill void left by Wayne? (IndyStar.com)

With a cornerback and safety shadowing Hilton, tight end Coby Fleener was able to seize the opportunity to become quarterback Andrew Luck's primary target.

Fleener caught eight passes for 107 yards, establishing career highs in both categories. And his performance begged an interesting question: Is Fleener the critical piece the Colts' passing game has been missing?

• Colts' Mathis on NFL fines: 'Just crazy' (IndyStar.com)

Mathis could only shake his head in disbelief at the lengths the NFL has taken to protect quarterbacks. He was penalized 15 yards for a personal foul last Thursday when he made contact with the head/neck area of Tennessee quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

• Colts face aggressive passing attack (Colts.com)

When the Colts meet Arizona, they will be facing a passing offense that is capable of getting chunk plays. The Cardinals last week had a 91-yard touchdown pass, and they have a veteran quarterback and game-wrecking receiving talent.

• Should the Colts start Donald Brown? (Stampede Blue)

So far, though, Trent Richardson has been anything but special. In fact, he has hardly been average. In eight games with the Colts this year, he has carried the ball 96 times but gained only 272 yards and 2 touchdowns, averaging 2.8 yards per carry and just 34 yards per game. He has also caught 12 passes for 116 yards, averaging 9.7 yards per reception. Those numbers stink, to be honest, for a top three draft pick and a guy who the Colts acquired for a first round draft pick as well.


Wednesday, November 20

• Colts sign RB Chris Rainey (ESPN.com)

The Indianapolis Colts are giving running back Chris Rainey a chance to resume his NFL career.

The Colts signed Rainey, a former fifth-round draft pick, on Wednesday.

• Can the Colts keep No. 2 seed in the AFC? (ESPN.com)

But here the Colts sit, in second place in the AFC, two games behind the Denver Broncos. New England's loss to Carolina on Monday moved the Colts up to the No. 2 seed in the conference. The Colts own the tiebreaker over the Patriots because they have a better winning percentage in conference games. The Colts are 5-2 and New England is 4-2 in conference games this season.

• Trent Richardson by the numbers (ESPN.com)

Coach Chuck Pagano said Richardson has been, for the most part, a victim of circumstance, suggesting there hasn't often been room to run. "You look at Trent's runs, for whatever reason, there's penetration [by defenders]," Pagano said. "You feel bad. A guy gets the ball handed off to him and all of a sudden, there's a guy sitting there for whatever reason."

• Indianapolis Colts Andrew Luck: Off the Cuff (IndyStar.com)

"Let's do this," he said, as we set off on an interview arranged so Luck could talk about his work with Quaker Oats to encourage schools to get active.

• Vinatieri wins weekly award, Colts add RB (IndyStar.com)

Indianapolis Colts placekicker Adam Vinatieri has been named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his contributions in last Thursday's win at Tennessee.


Tuesday, November 19

• Richardson needs to produce more (ESPN.com)

Indianapolis Colts running back Trent Richardson's rushing -- or lack of it -- has been a topic every week since he was acquired from the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 18.

• Power Ranking: No. 7 Indianapolis Colts (ESPN.com)

Indianapolis maintained its spot at No. 7 in this week's rankings after coming from 11 points down at halftime to beat the Tennessee Titans last week.

• NFL upholds Walden's suspension (IndyStar.com)

Linebacker Erik Walden will miss the Indianapolis Colts' game at Arizona Sunday after the NFL denied his appeal of its one-game suspension.

• Bethea named Colts' Man of the Year (ESPN.com)

"Just want to say I'm really honored to be chosen as the Colts Man of The Year," Bethea said. "There's a lot of guys in this locker room and in this organization that do a lot for the community and for this organization, so for me to be named, it's most definitely an honor and a blessing to be in a position to give back to help people that are less fortunate."

• Colts' Erik Walden suspended one game for head-butt (NFL.com)

Erik Walden's head-butt of Delanie Walker comes with significant consequence for the Indianapolis Colts linebacker.

The NFL is suspending Walden one game for his on-field altercation with the Tennessee Titans tight end Thursday night. Fox NFL Insider Jay Glazer first reported the news.

• Erik Walden deserves to be suspended (ESPN.com)

Pagano said last week that he expected the league to discipline Walden after he ripped off Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker's helmet and then head-butted him in the second quarter of the Nov. 14 game. Walden was penalized but not ejected for his actions.

• Colts LB Walden to appeal suspension (IndyStar.com)

He wants to remain an active part of the defense when the Colts visit Arizona on Sunday and the suspension is without pay, meaning a player forfeits a game check for $176,470, or 1/17th of his $3 million base salary.

• Colts RB Richardson defends his performance (Indystar.com)

Richardson likely isn't living up to his own — or his team's —expectations. His 2.8-yard per carry average since joining the Colts via a trade with the Browns in September has sparked significant debate among fans and media about Richardson's ability to be a true franchise back.

• Pagano, Colts prepare for Arizona (Colts.com)

Palmer has directed Arizona to 20-plus points in eight games, while the defense ranks eighth in points per game (21.2) and second against the rush (81.4). The defense is among things catching Chuck Pagano's eye.

"I think they're ninth right now overall, number two against the run. They got a bunch of takeaways," said Pagano. "You look at their front seven, they're loaded across the board - big, fast, strong, physical."


Monday, November 18

• Can Indianapolis Colts surpass 2012's win total of 11? (ESPN.com)

Six games remaining and a three-game lead in the AFC South.

That's where things stand for the Indianapolis Colts. They should win the division for the first time since 2010 unless they completely collapse down the stretch. And even then, they still may win it when you think about the rest of the teams in the division.

• Run game helped lift Colts' pass game (ESPN.com)

An improved running game helped the Colts' passing game. They rushed for 137 yards against the Titans.

Luck didn't have that luxury against St. Louis on Nov. 10. He threw for a season-high 353 yards, but he did so while being under pressure most of the afternoon and also throwing a season-high three interceptions.

• Hasselbeck's veteran presence extends throughout Colts' offense (Colts.com)

If everything goes according to plan, Matt Hasselbeck's passing numbers in 2013 won't garner any MVP awards.

What Hasselbeck has brought to the Colts this season can't be measured in completions or passer rating but rather his value behind the scenes.

• Kravitz: Colts RB Donald Brown has become go-to guy (IndyStar.com)

It's really a matter of passing the eye test.

Donald Brown is running beautifully, recklessly, violently, breaking tackles and gaining hard yards. Trent Richardson is like a magnet around filings, drawing defenders to him like a picnic spread draws flies, getting dragged down and going nowhere fast in the run game.

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