Thursday Night Football: Patriots vs. Colts Preview

Last Sunday, we saw the New England Patriots re-emerge after a dismal two weeks on the road to quiet all of the noise and criticism surrounding the franchise with a swift thumping of the 3-0 Miami Dolphins at home by a score of 38-7. Now on a short week, they get the favorable match-up of a home tilt against the 1-3 Indianapolis Colts. The Patriots executed on all three phases of the game to get off to a hot start with the defense doing their share to hold the Dolphins passing attack in check and came away with another home victory over an AFC East foe.

New England held a 3-0 lead through the first quarter and their defense consistently stopped the Dolphins offense in their tracks as they could not cross mid-field. After a long Tom Brady to Cordarrelle Patterson touchdown put the Patriots up 10-0, a high snap and fumble recovered by Kyle Van Noy put the offense on a short-field where they punched it in courtesy of a James White touchdown run. “Sweet Feet” was at it again and the running game certainly looked good against the Dolphins with rookie Sony Michel scoring his first career touchdown in the second half. A spectacular catch by Phillip Dorsett right before halftime made it 24-0 New England and everyone knew that one was over.

Meanwhile for the Colts, they are coming off of an overtime loss to the Houston Texans where head coach Frank Reich channeled his inner Doug Pederson rolling the dice on 4th down in his own territory with under one minute to go, but failed and the Colts lost the football game. This game also has a little extra added zing to it with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and the drama that surrounded his move to spurn the Colts in favor of a pay raise and a promise to remain with Tom Brady in New England. Chris Ballard has done a pretty good job in working on the roster that was very barren when he took over despite having a generational talent in Andrew Luck under center, but the Colts are still a long ways away from the “rivalry being back” as he insisted during the press conference following the McDaniels saga.

Now let’s dive into the matchup we’re in store for on Thursday night that has the Patriots as 10.5 point favorites.

Patriots defense vs. Colts offense:

The Patriots defense looked great on Sunday afternoon in Foxboro and fed off the home crowd and environment to propel them to an early lead while keeping Miami off the scoreboard until late in the second half on a meaningless TD by the phins. They had outstanding run defense forcing Tannehill to beat them through the air and with Pat Chung and Trey Flowers both back and healthy, the Patriots defense looked refreshed with new life.

Andrew Luck is back, but the Colts offense is still far  from being a unit capable of putting up big points every week, much less on a short week on the road against a rejuvenated defense that will be coming after him all day. Ballard has done his share to address one of their fatal flaws, the offensive line, in drafting a mauler like Quenton Nelson, but they still have a lack of talent surrounding No. 12 on the offensive side of the ball. If T.Y. Hilton cannot go on Thursday as he’s currently questionable but considered unlikely to play with chest and hamstring injuries, Luck’s weapons will consist of Eric Ebron, Chester Rogers, Ryan Grant and Zach Pascal. And everyone thought the Patriots were lacking with talent on the outside for Tom Brady.

Realistically, this one shouldn’t be that close. The talent and coaching discrepancies between one side to the other is very much evident. However, if the Colts are going to make it a football game, it will be with Andrew Luck taking over and controlling the football game. A Detroit Lions style of football in controlling the clock and keeping Tom Brady and the offense off the field as we saw in Week 3. Maybe a few weeks ago, but with how the Pats defense looked last week, their will be blood in the water for a primetime game on a short-week against an out-gunned Indianapolis side.

Patriots offense vs. Colts defense

Julian Edelman is back! The Patriots offense that just put up 38 points gets to face a tired and very weak defense for the Colts with their slot receiver fresh off a four-game suspension to start the season. Rob Gronkowski‘s ankle injury isn’t considered serious according to Adam Schefter, and Josh Gordon made his debut on a limited basis last week and got involved in the Miami beat-down catching a pair of passes for 32 yards. Dorsett and Patterson both hit pay-dirt with remarkable receiving touchdowns in their own right, and rookie Sony Michel had 25 carries for 112 yards and scored his first career touchdown. Josh McDaniels is going to have some fun out there on Thursday night calling plays and putting up points on national television.

As mentioned previously, General Manager Chris Ballard has done a good job thus far in re-shaping and re-building the Colts roster starting up front on both sides of the ball, but man, they are still a ways out from being competitive. On defense, they have young safety from OSU Malik Hooker, Jabal Sheard rushing the passer and young second round pick LB Darius Leonard as building blocks, but outside of those three, there’s not a lot to be frightful of on Thursday night for the Patriots. Especially considering how good the offensive line was on Sunday, they should have little to no problem moving the football and controlling the line of scrimmage.

I’m setting a four touchdown minimum for the Patriots offense on Thursday, and that’s if they feel like letting off the gas. I could see McDaniels not holding back and really going pedal to the medal up until the end, just to further stick the knife into the Colts.

Game Prediction: Patriots 34, Colts 13

Suddenly, we have gone from the Dynasty being over, to 3-2 with a primetime matchup at home against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. Go out there, play football and just get the job done against the Colts then have a few extra days to prepare for a very good offense coming in for what should be a spectacular football game in Week 6.

Follow Frank Pimentel on Twitter: @FrankBostonTank

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