Week 5 GameScout: Bears at Colts

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[October 08, 2016]  The Sports Xchange

GAME SNAPSHOT

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis. TV -- FOX, Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews

SERIES HISTORY: 42nd regular season meeting. Colts lead series, 22-19. The Colts have never beaten Chicago in Indianapolis (0-2 at Hoosier/RCA Dome and 0-1 at Lucas Oil Stadium). The Bears won six of the last eight meetings, including post-season. Chicago won the last two regular-season games, posting a 29-13 win at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sept. 7, 2008 and later notching a 41-21 victory at Soldier Field on Sept. 9, 2012. Indianapolis' last win in the regular-season (41-10) occurred on Nov. 21, 2004 at Soldier Field. The two franchises met in Super Bowl XLI with the Colts coming away with a 29-17 win at Miami's Dolphin Stadium as former QB Peyton Manning completed 25-of-38 passes for 247 yards and a TD to earn game MVP honors. The Colts are 11-9 as a franchise against Chicago in home games and 11-10 on the road.

GAMEDATE: 10/9/16

KEYS TO THE GAME: Bears backup QB Brian Hoyer was excellent for a second consecutive start last week while Jay Cutler (thumb) watched, and head coach John Fox sounds content keeping it that way.

Hoyer is completing 69.1 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and no interceptions, and this week he stares down a Colts' defense allowing more than 7.5 yards per reception with only one interception in four games. The Bears liked what they saw from rookie first-time starter Jordan Howard last week and his powerful style fits Fox's preferred run-first approach.

The Bears could do even more running with second-year WR Kevin White headed back to injured reserve, although injuries in the secondary make the Colts' defensive backfield an inviting target.

One touchdown and two field goals is all the Colts have mustered in the first quarter, continuing a theme of slow starts under coach Chuck Pagano. QB Andrew Luck, sacked six times last week in London by the Jaguars, suffers behind a below-average front five again and is nursing a sore shoulder. Being hit 32 times, sacked 15 this season, Luck still managed to completed 103 of-166 passes for 1,147 yards and eight TDs, but a man can take only so much.

Chicago is not fully healthy on defense and although the Bears held the pass-happy Detroit Lions in check last week, Luck has the weapons to have a huge day.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

--Bears CB Jacoby Glenn, who had his first career interception last week, vs. Colts WR Ty Hilton, who has been targeted 44 times. In passing situations -- which should be most of the game against the Colts -- Glenn has played and Bryce Callahan has moved inside to nickel. Glenn has been a safer option than Deiondre' Hall, who has been feast or famine. Glenn is rangy but may not have the closing speed to stay downfield with Hilton. He'll have to get help. Hilton has been targeted more than twice as much as any other Colts receiver, so it's a bit like Alshon Jeffery has been with the Bears. The Bears have to make Luck prove that he can beat them with other receivers, so getting either safety Adrian Amos or Harold Jones-Quartey over the top to provide Glenn with help is critical.

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--Bears LT Charles Leno Jr., who is coming off his best game of the season, vs. Colts OLB Robert Mathis, who has no sacks this season. At age 35, it's possible Mathis could finally be showing his age. Leno had a strong day as a run blocker against the Lions as some of Jordan Howard's best runs came to his side. And Ferguson's pass blocking, a question much of last year, has been steady when it's kept simple -- he suffers when the blitz comes to his side making responsibilities more complicated. Mathis had two sacks in his last game against the Bears four years

INJURY REPORT: BEARS -- Out: WR Kevin White (ankle). Doubtful: QB Jay Cutler (right thumb), DT Eddie Goldman (ankle), CB Deiondre' Hall (ankle), RB Jeremy Langford (ankle). Questionable: DE Jonathan Bullard (shoulder), RB Ka'Deem Carey (hamstring), LB Leonard Floyd (calf), WR Alshon Jeffery (knee), LB Nick Kwiatkoski (elbow), T Charles Leon (illness), CB Sherrick McManis (hamstring), TE Zach Miller (ribs), CB Tracy Porter (knee), WR Eddie Royal (calf), G Josh Sitton (shoulder), LB Danny Trevathan (thumb), LB Willie Young (knee). COLTS -- Out: C Jonotthan Harrison (illness), WR Donte Moncrief (shoulder). Questionable: CB Darius Butler (hamstring), T Denzelle Good (back), LB Robert Mathis (foot), T Joe Reitz (back), RB Robert Turbin (wrist, shoulder)

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Colts OLB Akeem Ayers -- The former Titans, Patriots and Rams linebacker will be asked to give Indianapolis quality minutes as he steps in as Robert Mathis' rotational backup as rush outside linebacker. With Trent Cole on injured reserve (back), Ayers will be needed to help provide pass rush help for a defense that continues to struggle. He has five total tackles in limited playing during his four games this year.

FAST FACTS: Bears QB Brian Hoyer passed for 302 yards, two TDs and a 120.1 rating last week. ... Nifty Bears WR/PR Eddie Royal had seven receptions for 111 yards and a TD in Week 4. ... The Colts have allowed 375 hits on QB Andrew Luck from 2012-16, the most in the NFL. ... Indianapolis has 12 touchdowns on 13 red-zone possessions. ... The Colts have allowed an AFC-worst 125 points this season.

PREDICTION: The Colts are cornered and need to show home crowd they remember how to win.

OUR PICK: Colts, 28-14

--Frank Cooney

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