Tag Archives: T.Y. Hilton

Players To Watch Patriots-Colts Week 5

Steve Balestrieri
October 4, 2018 at 7:12 am ET

“The Rivalry is Back!” TNF

The New England Patriots played a much better game than we’ve seen all season last week at home against Miami. The Pats dominated the Dolphins at the line of scrimmage on both the offensive and defensive sides, cruising to a 38-7 blowout.

The defense seemed to play much more physical and they stuffed the running game as well as covered in the secondary much better than they have in quite some time. The offense seemed to get untracked with the running game pounding the Dolphins for 175 yards while the passing game seemed to finally get untracked.

The Colts enter the game 1-3 but could easily be 3-1. They lost an overtime game last week against division rival Houston when head coach Frank Reich went for a 4th and 6 at midfield with time running out in the OT session and they were stopped.

Indy is really banged up right now with several players out for tonight’s game including leading receiver T.Y. Hilton, tight end Jack Doyle and starting corner Kenny Moore. The team played over 80 snaps on each side of the ball on Sunday and with the travel factored in, fatigue may become a factor in the second half.

The Patriots have a chance to put two wins together and move over the .500 mark and start building some momentum. They’d love to get a win and then have 10 days to prepare for the Kansas City Chiefs.

So, from a Patriots perspective, here are our Players to Watch on Sunday:

Julian Edelman:

The Patriots got back Edelman from his four-game suspension on Monday and immediately the other players were talking about the energy that he brings to the field, the locker room and how it has a carry-over effect to the other players.

But the reality is, despite Edelman appearing like his normal self all through training camp, he is coming off of ACL surgery where he missed all of the 2017 season. By Edelman’s own admission, he didn’t have his legs under him yet this summer, perhaps this month will have helped him get the rust out and have him ready to go.

It will be interesting to see how the coaches and Brady use him tonight. I’d expect that they will go to him very early to get the jitters over with but limit his snaps a bit until he gets some game action under his belt.

But with having him back and the addition of Josh Gordon last week, it has a snowball effect on the other Patriots receivers. Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett are more complementary WRs than a 1-2 combination, so now with Edelman and Gordon, drawing the top corners of the opposition, they’ll draw lesser competition and their production should increase.

Pat Chung:

The Patriots very versatile and very important cog in the defense will be looked to a great deal tonight. Chung is so versatile and can do so many things, he often is overlooked at how valuable his presence is. He can play in the box in run support and is a very sure tackler. He can cover tight ends and is usually very solid in doing so. And at times he can even cover in the slot.

Tonight with Andrew Luck missing a couple of his key weapons, look for him to try to get Eric Ebron heavily involved in the offense. Chung will no doubt see a lot of action against Ebron and it should be an intriguing matchup to watch.

It was no coincidence that the turnaround for the defense had something to do with the return of Chung and Trey Flowers last week after they missed the Detroit game. The fact that he’s a captain this year speaks volumes of how not only the coaches but his teammates view him. He’s always a big part of the defensive game plan but should be an even bigger piece this week.

James White:

The Patriots pass-catching running back had a big game on Sunday against the Dolphins. This was probably not a coincidence after Tom Brady had said the week before that they needed to get him more involved in the offense. White had a 22-yard touchdown and a highlight reel touchdown catch in the back of the end zone.

White is so versatile in the Patriots offense, he can run, pass block and is a terrific receiver out of the backfield. Brady will often put him in motion to get pre-snap reads of the defense and then try to create a mismatch with a linebacker.

With a Colts pass rush that is getting a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks, White may be an answer for some of that tonight. One way of keeping defenses from constantly pinning their ears back is to use the screen game and White is outstanding in that aspect. He should see a lot of touches in the game tonight.

Tom Brady:

Last week, it seemed like the Patriots passing game was finally starting to click. Despite that, QB Tom Brady made some uncharacteristic mistakes and threw a couple of interceptions.  Brady holds himself to a ridiculously high standard and will be looking to cut down on those this week against the Colts.

Indianapolis has been outstanding at rushing the passer this season and has 17 sacks in just four games this season. So Brady will have to be spot on and be ready to get the ball out quickly this week.

After struggling badly thru the first three games of the season in the air, the addition of Josh Gordon seemed to help loosen up the coverage for the other WRs. Now Brady gets back not only his most productive receiver but his slot guy, an area that they’ve really struggled with in his absence. And also the player that Brady is closest to on the team. Edelman’s return should do wonders for Brady’s confidence.

Kyle Van Noy:

The Patriots linebacker had a very solid game on Sunday playing a part in keeping the dangerous Kenyan Drake from becoming a key part of the opposing offense. Van Noy is another one of the more unsung Patriots defensive members and he’s versatile and can do a lot in stopping the run, rushing the passer and covering backs out of the backfield.

The Patriots lost Ja’Whaun Bentley in Detroit and their depth took another hit when Elandon Roberts was banged up late in the game on Sunday. Which means that more will be expected of Van Noy and Hightower. The Colts are also missing some key members of their offense this week, so they may lean heavily on running back Nyheim Hines.

Hines leads all Indy receivers with 22 catches and is tied for second on the team with two TD receptions. He will be a key player to watch on the Indy side, therefore, stopping him and Ebron become very important. The Colts are converting third downs this season at a ridiculous 51.6 percent thru the quarter mark of the season. Part of the reason is the play of Hines, Van Noy may see a lot of action covering him tonight.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news.

Patriots-Colts Week 5, Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
October 3, 2018 at 6:30 am ET

The New England Patriots host a Thursday Night Football game for the first time this season against the Indianapolis Colts. It is an important game for both teams as the Patriots are trying to stay on the winning track after dropping two in a row. The Colts are trying to get back on the winning track after dropping two close games to the Eagles and Texans.  

This week’s game will be broadcast by Fox on Thursday, October 4 at 8:20 PM ET and can be seen locally on WFXT Channel 25. Joe Buck will handle play-by-play duties with Troy Aikman as the color analyst. Erin Andrews and Kristina Pink 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 (2-2) defeated the Miami Dolphins 38-7 to even their record at .500. The Patriots dominated on both sides of the ball, holding Ryan Tannehill to just 100 yards passing. Sony Michel had 112 yards rushing, Tom Brady threw for 274 yards and three touchdowns. James White had a touchdown rushing and receiving.

The Colts (1-3) dropped a heart-breaking 37-34 overtime loss to the Houston Texans. Andrew Luck threw for 464 yards and 4 TDs, completing 40 of 62 passes. Luck completed passes to eight different receivers and the Colts had five receivers with 50 yards or more.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2018 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game.

Series History:

The Patriots and the Colts are playing for the 81st time in a series dominated by the Patriots. New England holds a 51-29 overall lead in the all-time series lead including a 4-1 advantage in the postseason. At home, the Patriots hold an all-time 29-12 lead. They have won the last seven matchups and are 5-0 against Andrew Luck including two playoff victories.

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge. First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots RBs vs Colts Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots running game showed some definite signs of life last week with the team racking up 175 yards against the Dolphins. Sony Michel led the way with 112 yards on 25 carries with a touchdown. James White added 44 more including a 22-yard touchdown run. The coaches have made a concerted effort to remain balanced this year and this game with a short prep week, look for more of the same.

The Colts aren’t the team that the Patriots routinely gashed left and right a few years ago. They’re bigger and built much better to stop the run than those sieve-like teams. They have a good size front four with former Patriot Jabaal Sheard at one end and big Margus Hunt at the other with Al Woods and Denico Autry inside.

Look for the Patriots to continue to their balanced attack and keep mixing things up against the Colts defense. The defense played nearly a 5-quarter game on Sunday and was on the field for 83 snaps. That may begin to take a toll on the road team in the fourth quarter. Especially if the Patriots can get ahead early and keep the pressure on them.

Patriots WRs vs Colts Secondary – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots passing game looked much better with the addition of Josh Gordon last week. This week they add Julian Edelman back into the mix. That is a good sign for New England. With Phillip Dorsett and Chris Hogan more complementary type of receivers, they will be placed in a much better position to succeed. With James White and Michel out of the backfield and Cordarelle Patterson as a small package type of player, all of a sudden, Brady has plenty of weapons to work with. The only question is whether Rob Gronkowski’s ankle will allow him to play.

The Colts are allowing about 268 yards per game thru the air. If Gronkowski is able to go this week, it will put them in a very difficult position to win many matchups. However, they did get seven sacks against Houston last week, two of which came from Autry inside. They’ll need that kind of push this week.

Look for Brady to test the Colts corners (Kenny Moore and Nate Hairston) with Gordon and Edelman. White is the X-Factor in the offense, as with his full complement of receivers this week,  Brady may be able to find mismatches for his talented running back. Their linebackers are young and inexperienced but have been playing really well. If Gronkowski is available to play (I’d lean toward no right now), then his matchup will be the key one to watch.

Next up the Indianapolis offense:

Indy RBs vs NE Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England

The Colts haven’t replaced Frank Gore yet although two rookies (Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines) look to eventually have the team in good shape. The Colts are having trouble running the football this year, averaging just 72 yards per game.

The Patriots had been getting gashed via the run until last week’s game against the Dolphins. They did a much better job against Miami holding them to just 56 yards on the ground. However, in the pivotal first half, Miami had six carries for seven yards. Malcom Brown and Danny Shelton were much better last week as was the play of the linebackers.

Look for Luck to pass to run. They’d love to get their backs going and get in favorable positions in terms of downs and yardage, but the Patriots should be able to slow them down enough to force Luck and the Colts into having to throw the ball. Elandon Roberts, who had a big game on Sunday left early with an injury, we’ll see what his availability is this week.

Colts WRs vs NE Secondary- Razor’s Edge New England

The Indy passing game has been limited thus far to the no-huddle, up-tempo short yardage game as they’ve wanted to ease Luck back into things and not do too much right away. That has led some to believe that his arm strength is gone. While it probably isn’t where it was a few years ago, it will grow stronger as the season wears on.

Luck’s most dangerous weapon, T.Y. Hilton is injured with a hamstring problem right now and may not play this week. That would really limit the stretching of the field that the Colts enjoy with him. He’ll lean heavily on Hines, out of the backfield who is the team’s leading receiver with 22 catches and Ryan Grant along tight end Eric Ebron. Jack Doyle is also injured with a bad hip.

The Patriots played much better coverage last week, getting aggressive and physical with the wide receivers off the line. The cornerbacks easily had their best game of the year and if the Colts are minus their best WR it is a plus for NE. Look for the Patriots to get more aggressive and try to put more pressure on Luck this week to generate some extra pass rush. Newcomer John Simon may see some extra work against his former team this week.

Special Teams- Razor’s Edge Push

The Patriots and Colts Special Teams both have very reliable kickers and punters. Adam Vinatieri was called the best kicker in NFL history by Bill Belichick this week, and unlike other times where he pumps the opponent’s tires, he isn’t stretching much there. The ageless Vinatieri is still money on FGs and EPs. The Colts have an excellent punter in Rigoberto Sanchez. The Patriots tandem of Ryan Allen and Stephen Gostkowski are an excellent tandem of their own. Except for the year Gostkowski was injured, the Patriots have had only two kickers (Vinatieri or Gostkowski) for the past 23 years.

Both teams have solid coverage units. The Colts return game is stuck in neutral while the Patriots return men Cordarrelle Patterson and Cyrus Jones are just starting to show some life.  

Next up, who wins and why…

Prediction:

Thursday Night Games are always difficult to get a good feel for. With a very short week to prepare, you never know what you’re going to get. The Patriots have always traditionally prepared well for the short-week Thursday night contests.

We’re going to stick with what has been working and that is the Patriots will continue their winning streak against the Colts, especially at home until they show that they can win one here.

You have to factor in the Colts defense played 83 snaps on Sunday afternoon and they could still have some residual effect from that overtime contest. Factor in they may be missing their best wide receiver in Hilton and it adds to balance sheet for New England.

Brady will have Julian Edelman back this week for the first real game since the Super Bowl against Atlanta, so expect that they’ll try to get him involved early, but then limit his usage until he gets his game legs under him. I’d look for Indy to line up Hairston their bigger corner on Gordon which should be a good matchup to watch.

The Patriots and Brady have had Luck and the Colts number at home for some time now. Look for that to continue this week to kick off Week 5.  Patriots 34-17

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news.

Patriots – Colts, Who Has the Razor’s Edge? Key Matchups

Steve Balestrieri
October 15, 2015 at 7:31 am ET

The New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts meet on Sunday Night Football for a rematch of last years’ AFC Championship Game. The primetime matchup will be televised by NBC with the announcing crew of Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michelle Tafoya on the call. Kick-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET.

Indianapolis (3-2) has gotten off to a slow start in 2015 and although they’ve won their last three games, they haven’t been the team that many experts picked to represent the AFC in this season’s Super Bowl. Last week backup QB Matt Hasselback led the team to a 27-20 win over the Houston Texans.

Quarterback Andrew Luck and CB Greg Toler are expected to play for the Colts this week which should be a big boost for the team on both sides of the ball.

New England (4-0), won at Dallas last week 30-6 after a slow start to the game that saw Tom Brady sacked five times in the first half. But the offense made their adjustments and Brady was laser-sharp in the second half going 10-11 for 165 yards and two touchdowns.  More importantly, they allowed zero sacks.

The defense held the Cowboys to a pair of field goals and generating two turnovers. It was their best performance of the year to date but in the process they lost LB Dont’a Hightower to a rib injury. His status is unknown for Sunday.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our  “Razor’s Edge”  column in 2015 to give a quick break down on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.

Series History: The Patriots and Colts will meet for the 80th time on Sunday and this series has been dominated by New England. The Patriots hold a 50-29 edge overall including a 21-17 advantage on games played in Indy.

The Patriots have won the last six meetings including two last season; a 42-20 win in Indianapolis and a 45-7 win in the AFC Championship Game in New England.

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots 2015 Opponents, Five First Impressions of the Colts

Steve Balestrieri
October 14, 2015 at 6:38 am ET

The Patriots go back on the road this week as they travel to Indianapolis to take on the Colts in a rematch of last season’s AFC Championship Game.

The game is slated for a prime time Sunday Night Football on NBC. Kickoff is slated for 8:30 p.m. and NBC’s announcing crew will consist of Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth handling play-by-play and analyst duties with Michelle Tafoya on the sidelines.

The Colts (3-2), won their third game in a row last Thursday night with a 27-20 win over the Houston Texans. Running back Frank Gore had 98 yards rushing on 22 carries and WR Andre Johnson had his best game of the season with 6 catches for 77 yards and two touchdowns against his former team.

Quarterback Andrew Luck is slated to return to action this week from his injury, he was a full participant in practice on Monday. Another sign that he’s fully healthy was the team releasing QB Josh Johnson early this week.

The Patriots (4-0), overcame a slow first half to defeat the Dallas Cowboys 30-6 on Sunday. Tom Brady was sacked five times in the first half but was very sharp going 10-11 for 165 yards and two touchdowns after halftime to lead the Patriots.

The Patriots defense held Dallas to just a pair of field goals and forced two turnovers. This was easily the best game of the season for the defense. They held Brandon Weeden to only 188 yards passing and the Cowboys to only 264 yards in total offense.

Here are our Five First Impressions of the Colts:

Focus on the Trenches Once Again: The Patriots have dominated the last few meetings between the two teams and have done so by completely winning the battle up front on both sides of the ball. That will once again be a key area to focus on again as the Colts have revamped their defensive line with three new starters.

With Arthur Jones down with injury, the Colts now go with David Parry as the nose tackle, flanked by Kendall Langford and Henry Anderson at defensive end on the defensive front. This will be a key area to watch. The Patriots with LaGarrette Blount and Jonas Gray have dominated in the running game for the last three meetings averaging 219 yards rushing and this is something the Colts must improve upon this time.

The offensive line play has improved in recent weeks and with Gore finally giving Indy a running game, it will take a lot of pressure off of Luck to have win the game single handedly. Their play against an improved Patriots front seven will be another key area to watch. Pass protection for Luck will be an area that Indy will want to improve upon as the Patriots have been able to get to him and force him into bad decisions and throws in recent meetings.

Turnovers Plaguing The Colts: Through the first five games of 2015, Indianapolis ranks 31st in the NFL with a minus seven turnover ratio. Colts quarterbacks have tossed seven interceptions and the team has lost five fumbles. They’ve only been able to add five interceptions and no fumble recoveries yet on the season.

Facing a Patriots team that is always in the top five of turnover ratio and is lighting up the scoreboards for over 37 points per game, this is one area that the Colts coaches will be driving home all week.

Losing the turnover battle against New England this week, would almost certainly spell defeat for the Colts. And with a defense that has done well at creating some turnovers against Tom Brady in the past, this will be a prime time for Indy to force Brady into his first interception of the season.

Will New Offensive Players Gore, Johnson Hold Up: The Colts in free agency this season opted to beef up the offensive side of the ball by bringing in two big signings in Frank Gore and Andre Johnson. But one has to wonder if the age of both players will impact their effectiveness down the stretch.

Gore at 32 is at an age where big, powerful running backs begin to show the wear and tear of their profession. He easily had his best game of the season last week and gave the offense a needed shot in the arm.

The bigger question is, can he continue to be an effective runner late into the season and in the playoffs for Indianapolis? The Colts haven’t had an effective running game in years and if he begins to wear down, they’ll back to square one.

Johnson also had his best game of the season with a solid effort against his former team. He looks like he’s lost a step in the passing game but the emergence of Donte Moncrief as the #2 WR behind T.Y. Hilton may ease Johnson into the complimentary 3rd WR role, which he can still be effective at.

Pressure is on Luck this Sunday: When he entered the league, Andrew Luck was touted as the next great QB and he’s put up some great numbers. But in each meeting with the Patriots, the press, ever anxious to anoint him as the new top QB of the league and passing by Brady, he’s failed badly.

Luck is still looking for his first win against New England and has yet to play an impressive game against a Bill Belichick defense. After a much hyped offseason where the Colts spent free agency and their top draft pick on offensive players, they started poorly and Luck, prior to his shoulder surgery was off to the worst start in his career with  five touchdowns and seven interceptions in three games.

Indy has plenty of offensive weapons for him to choose from, but Luck is going to have to limit the big mistakes that have plagued him against New England in the past. Perhaps now, with the expectations tempered by the Colts slow start will be a perfect opportunity for him to finally have a big game against the Patriots.

Indy Linebackers have tough test: Facing the Patriots this week, the Indianapolis linebackers will have a tough task. The Patriots love to mix things up in the running game with LaGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis. This is something they’ve been successful doing in the past and the Colts linebackers will have to be active in run support.

But with Lewis out of the backfield coupled with Rob Gronkowski in the passing game, the task becomes even larger. If there’s one area that is the most glaring matchup that favors New England, it will be the passing game targeting the linebackers, an area that the Colts haven’t addressed this season.

They don’t cover the tight ends exceptionally well and Gronkowski will be a big focus of the defense this week. Even getting back CB Greg Toler this week, this will be an area where the Colts will not only have to improve, it will be an area the Patriots will look to exploit.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

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