The Patriots return home to Gillette Stadium to face the Indianapolis Colts with another chance to move above .500 in the 2022 season. It was the Colts that broke the Patriots’ seven-game winning streak a year ago in Indy. The Colts fired their offensive coordinator this week, and head coach Frank Reich is taking over play-calling duties for the time being.
This week’s game will be broadcast by CBS. Greg Gumble will be making the play-by-play calls with Adam Archuleta as the color analyst. A.J. Ross will work from the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station, 98.5 The Sports Hub, with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Capello.
The Patriots (4-4) are coming off a 22-17 win over the Jets in New Jersey. The offense had issues once again finishing drives, but Rhamondre Stevenson, Jakobi Meyers, and Nick Folk gave them enough to win. The defense hounded Zach Wilson all game long and picked him off three times.
The Colts (3-4-1) lost a tough one against Washington 17-16. After giving up a go-ahead touchdown, Sam Ehlinger, making his first NFL start, nearly pulled off a huge play. But his perfectly placed pass to Michael Pittman was dropped. That play may have put them in FG range.
We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2022 to analyze some of the game’s key matchups and what you can look for in how the game plays out.
First up is the Patriots’ offense:
Patriots RBs vs Colts Front Seven – Edge Indianapolis
Rhamondre Stevenson had a terrific game despite having little to no room to run with. He finished with a combined 143 yards, rushing for 71 and receiving for 72 against the Jets. To give an idea of how well he ran, PFF credited him for running 81 yards after contact, which is more than his rushing total.
The Colts are middle of the road against the run allowing 109 yards per game (18th) in the league. But they’ve faced Derrick Henry twice (114, 128), so that number should be taken with that in mind. They have excellent interior DL in DeForrest Buckner and Grover Stewart, who can stuff the run and push the pocket.
The Patriots will probably again be without center David Andrews (concussion protocol), a big loss that was keenly felt against the Jets. James Ferentz and Cole Strange struggled against Quinnen Williams, and the offense struggled.
Patriots WRs vs Colts Secondary – Edge Indianapolis
The Patriots couldn’t generate much of a passing game against the Jets because the pass protection was terrible all game. Mac Jones was sacked six times, hit eight times, and pressured a whopping 17 times. It is really hard to go through progressions that way, and it showed.
As a result, other than short move-the-chains passes to Jakobi Meyers and short passes to Rhamondre Stevenson out of the backfield, there wasn’t much there for the Patriots to go to. Unless the protection for Jones improves, they’ll continue to struggle.
The Colts’ pass defense is a Top 10 unit, allowing just 199.8 yards per game. They have Stephon Gilmore at one corner and Kenny Moore, who had an impressive 2017 TC with the Patriots, at the other. Moore made it to the Pro Bowl last year. The pass rush is led by Buckner and Yannick Ngakoue, while Kwity Paye returns after missing the past three games.
Look for the Patriots to continue with a more short, quick passing game, given the protection issues.
Next up is the Indianapolis offense:
Colts RBs vs NE Front Seven– Edge New England
The Patriots’ run defense has been up and down this season; after getting gashed by the Bears, they were terrific against the Jets, allowing just 51 yards. Last week Lawrence Guy, Davon Godchaux, and Daniel Ekuale were extremely stout upfront. Christian Barmore returned to practice, although he was limited.
The Colts have been disappointing running the ball thus far this season, averaging only 87.9 yards per game. Jonathan Taylor has been hobbled by an ankle injury he reaggravated against Washington. He missed practice on Wednesday and if he plays on Sunday, he will be at less than 100 percent.
Colts WRs vs NE Secondary- Edge New England
The Colts have turned rookie QB Sam Ehlinger after Matt Ryan was turning the ball over far too often. He played well last week in his first NFL start and had his team up two scores in the fourth quarter, but his defense tired, and that one slipped away.
Indy has some good pass receivers in Michael Pittman (51 catches, 528 yards), Parris Campbell (30 catches, 282 yards), and Alex Pierce, who has turned into a big-play type of receiver (24 catches, 15.5-yard average). The Colts traded RB Nyhiem Hines to Buffalo at the trade deadline. He had 25 catches out of the backfield.
Look for the Patriots to throw some wrinkles at Ehlinger to force him into making mistakes and possibly created some turnovers. The pass rush led by Matthew Judon and Deatrich Wise has been very good this season; they had 15 combined pressures last week against the Jets. Ehlinger has good wheels so that will be an area that the defense will have to be aware of.
Special Teams- Edge New England
The STs units on the Patriots had a great day against the Jets. Nick Folk was “Mr. Automatic” with 5-5 field goal attempts with a long 52. Jake Bailey put three punts inside the 20, but DeMarcus Mitchell carried one into the end zone. Marcus Jones returned a punt 32 yards.
The Colts have two new specialists; kicker Chase McLaughlin has been outstanding, making 13-14 field goal attempts and 8-8 on extra points. Punter Matt Haack averages 43.9 yards per punt. His net average is 41.0 due to the terrific punt coverage. CB Isaiah Rodgers returns kickoffs, and Hines was returning punts, so a change will be due there.
Next up, who wins and why…
The Patriots are looking to get over the .500 hump for the first time this year, while the Colts are looking to even their record at 4-4-1. They are still in contention in their division if they can string some victories together. The rivalry between the two teams goes back to the days the Colts were in the AFC East.
Keys to the game from a Patriots perspective:
The OL Issues Need Fixing — The Patriots running game is not getting the holes for the backs to exploit; there has been no push by the OL up front. This may be a week to attack the perimeter, given the interior players for Indy.
The pass protection was absolutely awful on Sunday. No QB can be successful with that kind of pressure. If they have to move guys around, then so be it.
Force the Game Into Ehlinger’s Hands — The Colts haven’t run the ball well this year, but don’t forget, Taylor, blistered the Patriots a year ago. Even a less than 100 percent Taylor is still a formidable challenge. They have to get the Colts in passing situations early and often.
Ehlinger was a dual-threat QB at Texas, but this will be just his second NFL game. Look for New England to make it a tough day for the QB.
Win the Turnover Battle — The Colts have been a turnover machine (-8, 31st in the league) this season; that must continue. And on the flip side, the Patriots need to play a clean game. With both teams not scoring much, turnovers could spell the difference.
I think this is a game that the Patriots can and should win. That doesn’t mean that it will be easy or not a hard fought match. The Colts are good in the trenches, especially on defense. This is a matchup the Patriots have to win.
I think the Patriots will force a couple of turnovers and give the struggling offense some short fields. The Colts will score their season average but it won’t be enough to beat New England on the road. Patriots 24-16
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: Bill Belichick Damien Harris Deatrich Wise Devin McCourty Frank Reich Indianapolis Colts Jakobi Meyers Jonathan Taylor Kendrick Bourne Mac Jones Matthew Judon New England Patriots Patriots Patriots edge rushers Sam Ehlinger Stephon Gilmore Tyquan Thornton