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Scouting Report: Colts' Top Game Wreckers | Week 12

A look at the Colts’ top playmakers who could impact the outcome of Sunday’s matchup

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Coming off a hard-fought 27-14 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 11, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will hit the road for the second-consecutive game to take on the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, November 26. The aforementioned defeat dropped the Bucs to 4-6 on the season, putting them in a tie with the Atlanta Falcons, just one game behind the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South race. The 5-5 Colts are coming off a Week 11 bye and two back-to-back victories against the Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots prior to the allotted rest period. Indianapolis currently sits at third place in the AFC South behind the Jacksonville Jaguars (7-3) and the Houston Texans (6-4). The Colts underwent a series of transitions in the 2023 season, including the hiring of new head coach Shane Steichen. The club used the fourth overall pick in the draft to select Florida's Anthony Richardson. However, he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury, thrusting veteran backup Gardner Minshew into the starting role. In Week 12, the Bucs will strive to get back on a winning trajectory against the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Here are four players who could help swing the game in favor of Indy on Sunday afternoon: 

DT DeForest Buckner

Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, the Colts' interior cornerstone, dominated each of Indy's last two games. Since week nine, Buckner has led all defensive players with a pass rush win rate of 27.6%. His 11 total pressures rank ninth over that two-week span. Buckner is relentless in the trenches and is the prototype of consistency. He dominates at the point of attack with elite hand placement (strength and power), dictating the fight up front. Buckner has a rare blend of length, size and power and his patented push up the middle annoys opposing quarterbacks. With dynamic traits, Buckner racked up eight sacks, while also accumulating 22 quarterback hits and a career-high 74 tackles in 2022. Buckner's go-to spin move is lethal and the Bucs' interior offensive line will face one of the top players in the league at his position on Sunday.

G Quenton Nelson

Quenton Nelson may not play a highly publicized position, but he is still regarded as one of the best in the league. Despite an uncharacteristic down year in 2022 where Nelson allowed more sacks (5) than he amassed over the previous four seasons combined (4), while dealing with lingering back issues, Nelson still sets the standard at the position and has returned to peak form in 2023. Nelson is a mauler in the trenches, but he is also technically sound – a menacing paradox. With high-level hand placement, footwork, and drive, Nelson paves the way for the Colts' downhill rushing attack and RPO-game. In his first five NFL seasons, Nelson has made the pro bowl five times and made the All-Pro team four times. He has elite athleticism and intimidating power, but it is Nelson's cerebral mind that differentiates him from the pack. Nelson comes out of his blocks with outstanding pad level and has the ability to dislodge defenders out of their gaps to create rush lanes. He possesses lateral agility and is almost always first at firing his hands into the frame of the opposition, jolting them backward.

RB Jonathan Taylor

Jonathan Taylor, who led the league in rushing in 2021 and produced one of the most dominant seasons by a running back in NFL history, certainly poses a challenge to the Bucs' defense. Taylor can do it all. He has the dynamic combination of speed, power and precise footwork. When he gets to the second level, Taylor is a homerun threat. He shoots gaps and does not go down on first contact. He started the Colts' 2023 season on the physically unable to perform list while he recovered from an offseason ankle surgery and team slowly ramped up his workload. Although his numbers may not be as impressive with a smaller sample size on the field, his presence is felt between the numbers. The explosive runner accumulated 3,639 yards from scrimmage and 32 total touchdowns in his first two seasons before ankle injuries limited him to 11 games in 2022.

CB Kenny Moore II

Kenny Moore has established himself as one of the best slot corners in the game. He is playing like the 2021 peak campaign that led to many placing him atop the hierarchy at the slot role. Moore became the catalyst for the Colts against the Panthers, which put Indianapolis back in the win column. Moore finished that game with eight tackles, two passes defensed, and two interceptions – both returned for touchdowns. On that day, he became the first player in Colts' history to record two pick-6's in the same game. He possesses a ball-hawking prowess and is lethal on blitzes with an effective dip-and-rip maneuver. In the modern era of the NFL, slot corners have to be able to navigate multiple responsibilities: man-to-man coverage, zone, play down in the box against the run and blitz. Moore does all at an elite level, whether covering plays on an island, mirroring slot receivers or making anticipatory plays off the quarterback's eyes, Moore solidifies the Colts' secondary. He has an instinctive feel for keying and diagnosing the opponent's offensive scheme to quickly get downhill in the B or C-gap like a linebacker.

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