What to Watch For: Colts vs Patriots
Thursday, October 04, 2018
Joe Calabro, GoLocalWorcester Sports Team
|Julian Edelman returns|
“To me, it’s a frame of mind and you do the best you can to get ready. They’ve got the same amount of time, and that’s really where the competition is. It just doesn’t start Thursday night,” said Patriots quarterback Tom Brady during his press conference on Monday.
The Colts come into the game with a record of 1-3 after a loss to Houston, while the Patriots come into the game with a record of 2-2 following a win over Miami.
“Try to get a win and get the weekend off. I don't want to be a part of where we lose and then we have to figure out what the weekend is. So, the best way is to put it all in now and hopefully you get to relax on the back end,” said Patriots safety Devin McCourty during his press conference on Tuesday.
Game time is set for 8:20 p.m.
Patriots vs Colts
The Patriots and Colts will meet for the 81st time in history on Thursday night, with the Patriots leading the all-time series 51-29.
"[Tom] Brady-[Peyton] Manning and there's no more Manning, so… You know, I think it's two teams that usually would play each other all of the time because of where you're finishing in the division. So, to me, it's always good to see it because there are so many games to re-live and go off of and look at the series numbers and all of that," said McCourty.
The last meeting between the two teams came when the Patriots held on to beat the Colts 34-27 in October 2018 in Indianapolis.
The last meeting at Gillette Stadium came in the 2015 AFC Championship game when New England cruised past the Colts 45-7.
The Colts have not won a game in the series since 2009.
Julian Edelman is back.
After missing the first four games of the season due to suspension for performance-enhancing drugs, Edelman will be back at practice and in the Patriots lineup on Thursday night.
The question is, how will he look?
"I think we’ve played so much football together. I really have no doubt where he’s going to be at, what he’s capable of. He’s been a great player for our team. I think everyone’s excited to have him back, and anytime you add great players, it’s going to help what we’re doing," said Patriots quarterback Tom Brady during his press conference on Monday.
Not including preseason, Edelman has not played an NFL game since the Super Bowl against Atlanta.
He missed all of the 2017-18 season after tearing his ACL in a preseason game against the Lions.
Then served the four-game suspension to start this season.
Over his career, Edelman has hauled in 425 catches for 4,540 yards and 24 touchdowns in 103 games
Run/Short Pass Defense
The Indianapolis Colts ruled out wide receiver TY Hilton for the game, meaning a major part of the offense will run through pass-catching running back Nyheim Hines.
"He's very good with the ball in his hand. He's a good receiver. He's a good runner. He's fast. He's elusive in space, hard to tackle. He's a guy you don't want to give a lot of freedom and opportunity to. He's very good with the ball in his hands and has good quickness to get open and separate in the passing game," said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick during his press conference on Tuesday.
For the Patriots, this will mean a focus on stopping the run and short pass game.
New England enters the contest giving up 121 rush yards per game, good enough for 26th best in the league.
The Pats defense will also have to watch out for the short to intermediate passes.
According to Pro Football Reference, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck's average yards per attempt is 6.1, which is the worst in the NFL.
Expect to New England to put an extra defender in the box to help slow down the short passes.
With Edelman missing the first four games and a handful of new receivers on the roster, it was thought that Chris Hogan would be a much bigger part of the offense early in the season.
However, that has not necessarily been the case.
Hogan only has eight catches on 15 targets this season and two touchdowns, both of which came against Jacksonville.
By comparison, Cordarrelle Patterson has eight catches on 12 targets, Phillip Dorsett has 16 catches on 21 targets.
In the last game against Miami, Hogan only had one catch on one target.
Hogan's one target in the game was one less than tight end Dwayne Allen and Josh Gordon, each of whom were targeted twice.
Edelman's return to the lineup could open up Hogan or further diminish his role in the offense.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski left Sunday's game against Miami early due to an ankle injury and did not participate in practice on Tuesday.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the injury is "not serious," but Gronkowski is questionable to play on Thursday.
So far this season, Gronkowski has 17 catches for 233 yards and a touchdown.
Tom Brady is three touchdown passes shy of 500 for his career.
If and when he gets it, he will be only the third quarterback in NFL history to reach the mark.
The only other two quarterbacks that have done it are Peyton Manning, who threw 539 touchdown passes, and Brett Favre, who threw 508 touchdown passes.
Directly behind Brady is Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who has thrown 496 touchdown passes. He will have a chance to eclipse the mark on Monday Night Football.