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Richardson to make Colts debut Sunday vs. 49ers
By: Brian Graham - StatFox
Published: 9/22/2013  at  4:11:00 AM
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Kickoff: Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
Line: San Francisco -10, Total: 46

After pulling off one of the biggest in-season trades ever, the Colts will put new RB Trent Richardson on display Sunday when they face the heavily-favored 49ers.

Richardson, who was acquired from the Browns on Wednesday for a first-round draft pick, will be the main ball carrier in Indy moving forward. However his debut with his new team won't be an easy one going up against a San Francisco squad that has been stewing for a week after being blown out in Seattle, 29-3. Indianapolis is also coming off a disappointing defeat, ending a seven-game home win streak (6-1 ATS) with a 24-20 loss to a Miami team they outgained 448 to 398. The Colts secured an 18-14 home win when these teams last met in 2009, and also won the last meeting in San Francisco, 28-3. However, duplicating that feat will be quite a challenge considering the defending NFC champions are 14-5 ATS (74%) at home over the past three seasons. A telling trend in the Colts' favor is that home teams that completed 60% of its passes last season after gaining 4.5 YPA or less in its last game are just 6-27 ATS (18%) since 1983.

Can the Colts keep the score close in San Francisco with Richardson leading the ground game? For the answer, connect to NFL Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 season and playoffs. During the 2012 campaign, the experts combined for a 52% ATS success rate in NFL Best Bets, highlighted by StatFox Brian's 60% ATS mark (36-24-2 ATS) and StatFox Dave's 53% ATS accuracy (44-41-4). StatFox Scott and StatFox Gary dominated NFL Totals, with Scott going 57% (38-29-1) and Gary cranking out a 56% clip (28-22-1) during the season, capped off by a perfect 4-0 run in the postseason.

Richardson hasn't done very much with the Browns this season, rushing for just 105 yards on 31 carries (3.4 YPC) with no touchdowns. He did catch seven passes, but averaged a mere 7.3 yards per reception. His addition makes the Colts a more balanced offense, but they still figure to air the ball out frequently against a 49ers pass defense that has been shaky in the first two games, allowing 7.9 YPA. Indy QB Andrew Luck had near-perfect Week 1, throwing just five incompletions in 23 attempts, but he was a lot less effective last Sunday against the Dolphins with a 58% completion rate, 1 TD and 1 INT. Luck has relied mostly on his top two wideouts, WRs Reggie Wayne (17 targets) and T.Y. Hilton (16 targets), who have 144 and 142 receiving yards, respectively. He also started the year with a pair of capable tight ends, but TE Dwayne Allen was lost for the season due to a hip injury, leaving former college buddy TE Coby Fleener as the lone pass catcher from the tight end spot. Fleener is coming off a big day versus Miami with 69 receiving yards and a touchdown. The Colts defense has forced three turnovers this year, but has allowed a hefty 385 total YPG. And the offenses they have faced (Raiders and Dolphins) don't compare to the 49ers' potent attack that scored 34 points with 494 total yards in their last home game versus Green Bay.

The 49ers were steamrolled in Seattle, but their paltry 207 total yards had a lot to do with committing five turnovers. Adding injury to insult, star TE Vernon Davis strained his hamstring in the final quarter of that loss and will likely be a game-time decision. His absence could force San Francisco to run the football more, but the team hasn't been great in that department this season as the three running backs (Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and Anthony Dixon) have combined for 81 yards on 38 carries (2.1 YPC). Gore, who has averaged a hefty 4.6 YPC in his career, has been held to just 2.0 YPC with 60 yards on 30 attempts. QB Colin Kaepernick has found room to run though with 109 yards on 16 carries (6.8 YPC). He was horrible throwing the ball in the loss to Seattle (13-for-28, 127 yards, 4.5 YPA, 0 TD, 3 INT), but was phenomenal at home in Week 1, completing 27-of-39 passes for 412 yards (10.6 YPA), 3 TD and 0 INT. A lot of that disparity had to do with No. 1 WR Anquan Boldin, who exploded against the Packers for 208 yards on 13 catches, but was stifled by Seahawks star CB Richard Sherman last Sunday night, finishing with only one catch for seven yards. The 49ers defense actually didn't play too badly on Sunday night, allowing 172 rushing yards, but on 47 carries, which equals a pedestrian 3.7 YPC. They were on the field for 36:43 of that blowout loss when the Seahawks converted just 5-of-16 third downs. San Francisco did have an extremely high 12 penalties for 121 yards though. The one key injury to the 49ers defense is rookie S Eric Reid, who leads the team with two interceptions. Reid is questionable to play after sustaining a concussion last week.

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