INDIANAPOLIS -- Falling to 0-2 is the last thing the Indianapolis Colts can afford.
Only 12 percent of teams who fall to 0-2 have made the playoffs under the current playoff format, which began in 1990. Forty-one percent of teams that are 1-1 have made the playoffs under that format. That's why it's important for the Colts to beat the Philadelphia Eagles.
Here are three storylines to watch in the game.
McNary starting: Jerrell Freeman, the Colts’ best all-around linebacker, will have his streak of 33 straight starts come to an end because of a hamstring injury. Josh McNary, who missed most of training camp with a shoulder injury, will start in Freeman’s place. McNary lacks experience but the front office likes him enough that they had no problem releasing former starter Kelvin Sheppard at the end of training camp. Coach Chuck Pagano called McNary their most athletic linebacker. McNary’s athleticism will be tested because Philadelphia has two tight ends -- Zach Ertz and Brent Celek – who present matchup problems.
Pressure the quarterback: This will be a storyline every week until the Colts prove they have some kind of pass rush. They sacked Peyton Manning once in their loss at Denver in Week 1. There will be opportunities to get to Eagles quarterback Nick Foles. Foles was sacked five times against Jacksonville in Week 1. The Eagles are beat up along the offensive line, as they placed Allen Barbre and Evan Mathis on injured reserve last week. Lance Johnson is still suspended, so the Colts don’t have any excuses for not being able to put pressure on Foles unless the Eagles run the ball every play, which isn’t going to happen.
Limit mistakes: The theme of the Colts' loss to Denver was blown opportunities. Or “stupid,” if you talk to quarterback Andrew Luck about his bad play call on fourth down. The Colts got into Broncos territory eight times, but only scored on half of those trips. Indianapolis can't squander those opportunities. That will be even more pertinent for the Colts this week because the Eagles have a quick-fire offense that scored 34 unanswered points against the Jaguars.