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Patriots vs. Colts: NFL Game of the Week Preview

Patriots vs. Colts
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This Saturday the Patriots will be playing at Lucas Oil Stadium against the Indianapolis Colts. Both teams have a rivalry that goes back decades. Both teams used to be in the AFC East when the Colts were in Baltimore. The rivalry remained intense even after the team moved to Indianapolis. The new rivalry really warmed up after Peyton Manning and Tom Brady both played remarkably well in 2001.

They both were so good that both won collectively six NFL Most Valuable Awards from 2003 to 2010. Manning won 4 while Brady was NFL MVP for two years. Overall, both teams have played against each other a total of 81 times (including the postseason). The Patriots have won 52 times while the Colts have 29 wins. The Patriots have won their last 8 games and this dates back to 2010.

What is At Stake?

Both teams are playing exceptionally well, especially considering how both of these teams started the season. The Patriots are hot now with nine wins against four losses, but the biggest news is that they have won their last seven games, and they are number one in the AFC. The Colts, on the other hand, are running the ball amazingly well.

After 14 weeks of the regular season, the Colts are at number six seed in the AFC with a 7-6 record. So, what is at stake here? Well, for the Colts, it’s relatively easy, they have to win to protect their playoff spot, and the Patriots need to win to preserve their number one seed in the conference. Either way, both teams are looking to gain an advantage for the playoffs.

This is also a rare moment when we are witnessing something new. Both teams are good against high-powered offenses, and both teams are average against the run. Both teams have been outstanding with their run offense lately, and both teams have quarterbacks starting in their first season with their teams in 2021. Carson Wentz, of course, has lots of experience, but his transition from the Eagles to the Colts were met with mixed reactions. Mac Jones is playing the best among all rookie quarterbacks. In 14 games, he has thrown for 2,869 yards, 16 touchdowns with eight interceptions.

His QB rating of 97.0 is 14th among all quarterbacks. Carson Wentz is right next to him at 15, with a rating of 96.6. However, the biggest offensive weapon between the two teams is Jonathan Taylor, who has exploded in the second half of the season. Taylor’s 1,348 rush yards and 16 touchdowns are best among the whole NFL, and his 5.6 average is also at the top among active running backs. Therefore, we can expect Taylor to perform once again better to improve his leaderboard status.

Teams Stats: Offense and Defense

Both teams are somewhat similar in stat rankings, with the Colts performing slightly better in rush offense and the Patriots being better on the defense. Colts’ overall yards per game are 368.1 vs. 346.5 yards per game by the Patriots. The Colts have 216.4 passing yards per game, and the Patriots have 223.0. Regarding rushing offense, the Colts are in the second position with 151.7 yards per game while the Patriots are averaging 123.1 yards per game, and they are at number 9.

Total points scored by each team are also very close to each other, with the Colts having scored 28.5 points per game and the Patriots just behind them with 26.9 points per game. On the defensive side, the Patriots are only giving 15.4 points per game which is the best in the entire NFL. The Colts are giving away 21.8 points per game on average.

The Patriots’ pass defense is also better with 195 yards to the Colts’ 230.2 yards per game defense. Both teams are almost equal in stopping the run, with the Colts allowing 111.8 yards per game to the Patriots’ 114.5 yards per game. So, based on these stats, we can predict that it might all come down to the game-day plan of stopping each other’s rushing yards and how each teams’ offense performs in the endzone.

Patriots Keys to the Game

Stopping Jonathan Taylor would be the priority for the Patriots. For Belichick, this would be a situational-based scenario, and he will improvise based on the Colts’ offensive scheme. But for the most part, we have observed that the Colts have yet to lose a game when Taylor has rushed for at least 100 yards. On the other hand, the Patriots have won all of their road games this season. So, keeping all this in mind, the Patriots’ priority would be to stop Jonathan Taylor at all costs.

Next in line is the nose tackle of the Patriots Davon Godchaux, who is very good against middle rushes, and Belichick must be thinking about using him to stop Taylor. Regarding the Patriots’ offense, as discussed above, they are somewhere in the middle in pass yards, but they do have a very good running back. Damien Harris has been playing in his third year, and he has more yards this season than the previous two seasons combined.

So far, Harris has rushed 164 times for 754 yards and nine touchdowns. Additionally, he has caught 13 passes for 84 yards. We have to talk about Mac Jones, who has carried himself well and is playing the best among all rookie quarterbacks. He can throw the ball when he has to. He can throw accurately and deep. He can also scramble, so it will be interesting to watch the game plan Belichick has in mind considering his all offensive pieces.

Update: Harris has been ruled out of Saturday’s game with the Colts.

Colts Keys to the Game

Colts have varying game plans, and just two weeks before the bye week, the Colts were in a shootout against Tampa Bay when they lost the game 31-38. Then after that, they went run-heavy with Jonathan Taylor, but the point is that this will be a massive game for the Colts, and since both are coming off the bye, there is no advantage to any one particular team.

As stated above, the Colts’ defense is ranked 13th in the entire NFL, but against the pass, they are 12th best allowing opposing quarterbacks. The Colts defense has also sacked the opposing quarterback 29 times, ranking them 18th in the league.

The Colts’ defense isn’t bad, but it’s not perfect either. Their recent success has been because they are running the ball very well and keeping their defense off the field most of the time, and that’s what they have to do. The Colts have to run the ball well to win the game. Another thing the Colts should be focusing on is to contain Mac Jones and force him to make mistakes, as usual, other rookie quarterbacks do.

But offensively, the Colts’ game plan once again would be to make sure that Jonathan Taylor gets as many yards as possible. Regarding Taylor, he has been playing one of the best games lately. In addition to being the best rusher in the NFL, he has also caught 336 yards and caught two touchdowns. So, if the Colts can commit to their current plan of running the football and making sure Taylor gets as many touches as possible, they will be hard to beat.

Verdict: Who Is Going To Win?

In a tough matchup, it’s always hard to predict the game’s outcome, especially when both teams are similar in most of their stats. We think it might come down to whoever will control the ball most, and keeping that in mind, the odds favor the Colts. It will be a close game, but the Patriots’ winning streak is about to end. Colts wins by seven.

Patriots 21

Colts     27

Meet Derrick Branch, the founder and chief wordsmith at Strike 7 Sports. With a sharp focus on the NFL and the NBA, Derrick's expertise in sports is matched only by his passion for sharing it with others. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communications from the prestigious University of Arizona Global. Let his insightful and engaging writing take you to the heart of the action.

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