Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has played in a host of anticipated games this year, but today’s 4:05 EST / 1:05 PST matchup against the Arizona Cardinals is a must-watch not for the on-field action but the off-screen intrigue. No, this isn’t Luck vs. Manning; it’s Luck vs. Bruce Arians, the Arizona head coach who’s facing the Colts for the first time since he was their interim coach in 2012. Luck has seemed unstoppable at times in the 2013 NFL season, but if anyone knows Luck’s tendencies, weaknesses and how to exploit them all, it’s Arians. The Cardinals also happen to be one of the most intriguing late-season teams this year, giving you plenty of reason to watch Colts vs Cardinals online free live using one of several different methods.
The 6-4 Cardinals have quietly built a fan following, not to mention a team that’s clicking at just the right time. Arizona’s defense has a knack for making game-changing plays, and their 22 takeaways ties them for fourth in the NFL. Arizona’s defense is also tied for eighth in the NFL for total points allowed, a nice position to be in when going up against the Colts and their dual-threat quarterback. The Cardinals’ offense, meanwhile, can put up some impressive numbers behind quarterback Carson Palmer and two high-profile wide receivers, Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald. Presuming the Cardinals aren’t turning the ball over, that is.
Through 11 weeks, Cardinals QB Palmer has actually outperformed Colts QB Luck, which isn’t something most NFL quarterbacks can say with a straight face. Palmer has gone 224-358 for 2,573 yards and 14 touchdowns, while the Colts’ Luck has completed 206 of his 347 passes for 2,430 yards and 14 TDs. The aforementioned turnovers, though, have tainted Palmer’s performance, as he’s been able to pull off only the league’s 27th ranking (out of 32) in ESPN’s quarterback rankings (QBR) compared to Luck’s number-six spot. With that said, last week Palmer averaged almost 10 yards per pass attempt, never turned the ball over and passed for 419 yards, something he’s never done in his career. Naturally he’d like that momentum to continue today.
For Luck to be at his finest — and for the Colts to really throw Arizona head coach Arians something he hasn’t seen before — Indianapolis will need running back Trent Richardson to finally kick it into gear. The Colts’ trade of a first-round pick to Cleveland for Richardson was one of the biggest moves of the NFL season, with expectations for the highly regarded running back through the roof. Yet Richardson hasn’t rushed for more than 60 yards in a single game with the Colts, he’s averaging just 2.8 yards per carry, and some fans are ready to call the trade (and Richardson) a bust. Earlier this week, Richardson said “I’ve been playing good. Stuff just hasn’t matched up like we thought it would when I’m in there.” When you watch Colts vs Cardinals online free, you’ll have to see whether things finally “match up” like they’re supposed to for him, and if they do, whether he can finally deliver that breakout game everyone’s been looking for from him. Luck can only do so much, and Indy can only go so far, with Donald Brown as the Colts’ leading rusher.
One of the reasons the Colts need Richardson’s ground attack is because the Cardinals have the NFL’s ninth-ranked defense and are allowing 40 fewer yards per game than Indianapolis. Arizona’s defensive line gives up just 81.4 rushing yards per game, second fewest in the league, and Daryl Washington is one of the best linebackers in the NFL, becoming one of just three players with eight or more pass deflections, two or more sacks and at least two interceptions. John Abraham has seven sacks and three forced fumbles, rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu has become a tackling machine, and cornerback Patrick Peterson has nabbed three interceptions this year. Luck may be an outstanding quarterback, but if the Colts are forced to rely on Luck alone, they’ll be “lucky” to walk away with a victory against a Cardinals defense that should theoretically shut down any one-threat opponent.
You can watch Colts vs Cardinals online free on DirecTV’s website if you have the NFL Sunday Ticket with MAX Package. The package requires a subscription, but anyone who has one can watch the live streaming version free of any game, including today’s 4:05 EST / 1:05 PST NFL game between the Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals.