with Greg Rakestraw
Greg Rakestraw is the programming director for ESPN Sports Radio 950 and the host of Sportsdesk, an afternoon drive-time sports talk show. He also hosts a Colts pregame show for two hours prior to each game.
Q: I think the Colts are going to lose on Sunday. Do you agree or disagree?
A: I would disagree. I don't think it'll be a blowout, but I think the Colts would win. Not that I think they'd lose to New England if they played them, but the Steelers are a better matchup with them. The Colts are simply playing another team. I don't think Pittsburgh is explosive enough offensively. They're too one-dimensional to affect the Colts. You saw that on Nov. 28 when they played the Colts. The Colts were able to slow down Pittsburgh's rushing game and it pretty much stopped their passing game. I think Pittsburgh is going to have a really tough time matching up with Indianapolis.
Q: Pittsburgh's defense certainly looked fierce against Cincinnati.
A: Yeah, but they were playing against a backup quarterback and that was a big difference in the ballgame. Once they got ahead, Pittsburgh dropped eight or nine guys back in coverage and Cincinnati still had to throw the football. If they do that to the Colts, the Colts will run right over them. The Colts did get slowed a bit by the Steeler defense on Nov. 28 - I don't see them putting up 40 points. But I think they'll easily score in the 20s and likely in the 30s against them.
Q: You go to practices and talk to the players. Has coach Dungy's tragedy affected the operations of the team?
A: Not in day-to-day operations, it hasn't. This is a team that is very good at compartmentalizing things, separating off the field and on the field. It was a giant distraction for the game in Seattle but was a unifying force in the game against Arizona. Now that coach Dungy is back, and the team is back to a regular routine, I don't think it will be a factor in the playoffs.
Q: What do your callers think about the matchup against Pittsburgh?
A: Before the game, callers were split on who they'd want to see. Some were saying, "Let's get New England over with." Others were saying, "Let's not play them at all. Have them go to Denver and lose." A lot of folks wanted to see Pittsburgh because they want to make tons of crowd noise, as they did in November. So while New England is the main rival, a lot of people want to stick it to Pittsburgh and get as loud as they can.
Q: How do you see the New England-Denver game playing out?
A: I think Denver will win. I don't think it will be easy, but I think Denver can run the football enough against the Patriots and make enough big passing plays. The Patriots have been beaten up all year. The Broncos have had two weeks off. That extra week of rest will be huge.