2018 Colts Preview: Colts/Patriots, Week 5

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INDIANAPOLIS — “The rivalry is back on.”

Those were the parting words from Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard in February at his press conference to address the team's then-open head coaching position after current New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels had agreed to terms to take the job, but backed out in the final hours.

Eight months later and it’s finally time to for the two teams to square off. McDaniels is still the offensive coordinator in New England and the Colts couldn’t be happier with who they found to fill the position in Frank Reich.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

  • Thursday, Oct. 4 at 8:20 p.m. ET
  • Foxboro, Mass.; Gillette Stadium
  • TV: FOX and NFL Network (Thursday Night Football) — Joe Buck (play-by-play), Troy Aikman (color), Erin Andrews and Kristina Pink (sideline) | Amazon Prime Video — Hannah Storm (play-by-play) and Andrea Kremer (color)
  • To find out what games will be on in your area, check here
  • Radio: WFNI “1070 The Fan” and WLHK “HANK FM” — Matt Taylor (play-by-play), Jim Sorgi (color) and Caroline Cann (sideline) | Westwood One — Ian Eagle (play-by-play) and Tony Boselli (color)

ALL-TIME SERIES

  • Patriots lead, 47-28 (4-1 in the playoffs), and are 8-2 against the Colts at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots have won the last seven dating back to 2010.
  • Last game — Week 6 of 2015. The Patriots won, 34-27.

COACHING STAFF

Colts:

  • HC Frank Reich
  • OC Nick Sirianni
  • DC Matt Eberflus
  • STC Bubba Ventrone

Patriots:

  • HC Bill Belichick
  • OC Josh McDaniels
  • DC Bill Belichick/Brian Flores
  • STC Joe Judge

LAST WEEK

Colts:

  • Lost vs. Houston Texans (1-3), 37-34 (home)

Patriots:

  • Won vs. Miami Dolphins (3-1), 38-7 (home)

INJURY UPDATE

Colts (the team had walkthroughs Monday through Wednesday; their participation listed below is an estimation for those days if the team had held an actual practice):

  • OT Anthony Castonzo (hamstring): QUESTIONABLE — Limited participant Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
  • TE Jack Doyle (hip): OUT — Did not practice Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
  • S Clayton Geathers (knee): QUESTIONABLE — Limited participant Monday, did not practice Tuesday, limited participant Wednesday
  • OT Denzelle Good (Not Injury Related): OUT — Did not practice Tuesday and Wednesday
  • CB Nate Hairston (ankle): QUESTIONABLE — Did not practice Monday and Tuesday, limited participant Wednesday
  • WR T.Y. Hilton (chest/hamstring): OUT — Did not practice Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
  • C Ryan Kelly (hand): QUESTIONABLE — Did not practice Monday and Tuesday, limited participant Wednesday
  • LB Darius Leonard (ankle): QUESTIONABLE — Did not practice Monday and Tuesday, limited participant Wednesday
  • RB Marlon Mack (hamstring): OUT — Limited participant Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
  • CB Kenny Moore II (concussion): OUT — Did not practice Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
  • DT Hassan Ridgeway (calf): OUT — Did not practice Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
  • K Adam Vinatieri (right groin): QUESTIONABLE — Full participant Monday, did not practice Tuesday, limited participant Wednesday
  • CB Quincy Wilson (concussion): OUT — Did not practice Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday

Patriots:

  • DL Adam Butler (knee): QUESTIONABLE — Limited participant Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
  • WR Josh Gordon (hamstring): QUESTIONABLE — Limited participant Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
  • DL Geneo Grissom (ankle): QUESTIONABLE — Limited participant Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
  • TE Rob Gronkowski (ankle): QUESTIONABLE — Did not practice Monday and Tuesday, limited participant Wednesday
  • TE Jacob Hollister (chest): QUESTIONABLE — Limited participant Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
  • LB Elandon Roberts (calf): QUESTIONABLE — Limited participant Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
  • CB Eric Rowe (groin): QUESTIONABLE — Limited participant Monday, did not practice Tuesday, limited participant Wednesday
  • DT Danny Shelton (elbow): QUESTIONABLE — Limited participant Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday

STORYLINES/THINGS TO WATCH

  • The Reason Why “The Rivalry Is Back On” — Both sides can laugh it off, but to the fans this matchup is individually important. It’s the elephant in the room and may still be the biggest talking point leading up to the game. Following the Super Bowl in February, McDaniels and the Colts agreed to terms on him becoming the head coach, and it had already been rumored for weeks leading up to that point. After the move was announced, McDaniels had second thoughts and backed out. Ballard held the press conference afterward, ending it with, “The rivalry is back on.” Less than a week later, the Colts ultimately got the right guy in Reich, the recent Super Bowl winner.
  • Frank Reich vs. Bill Belichick Part 2 — As offensive coordinator, Reich was part of the Philadelphia Eagles coaching staff that was able to get the better of Belichick, McDaniels and the Patriots in this February's Super Bowl. The Eagles pulled out some cunning play calls on offense during the game, ultimately leading to their victory. With the Colts potentially down at least a couple of offensive weapons, it may mean everything is on the table. It could also mean a shrunken playbook. What tricks will Reich have up his sleeve this time, and will the Patriots be ready for it?
  • Luck’s First Win Versus New England? — The Colts have not been able to beat the Patriots since Peyton Manning was quarterback. Like Manning before him, Luck has struggled to keep up with the Patriots to start his career (0-5). Will Luck finally get that proverbial monkey off his back like Manning was finally able to do?
  • Julian Edelman and Robert Turbin Return From Suspensions — Both Colts running back Robert Turbin and Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman served four-game suspensions to start the season. They are both eligible to return in this matchup, but it remains to be seen if they will be activated yet (the Colts have said they have until 4 p.m. Thursday to make that decision on Turbin). If either are activated, they are likely to have very limited roles since this was such a short week of practice. This week, Reich was asked about Turbin playing despite a lack of practice time: “I’ve seen it happen before. If something like that were to happen, I’ve been in places before where if something like that happened it would be in a limited role, a very specific role that you feel like that player could fill and get five or 10 plays and take a little bit of the load. Or it could be something that that guy does specifically really well, and you know he does really well so, ‘Hey, let’s at least use him for that,’ if something like that comes up.”
  • Patriots TE Dwayne Allen and WR Phillip Dorsett Face Their Old Team — The Colts traded both tight end Dwayne Allen and wide receiver Phillip Dorsett to the Patriots last offseason. This is scheduled to be their first matchup since. Will it give the two a little extra motivation? Dorsett at this juncture is on pace for career highs in receptions (64), targets (104), receiving yards (660) and touchdowns (8).
  • Injuries — Last but certainly not least is injuries. Both sides could be without perennial Pro Bowl stars, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton being out for the Colts and tight end Rob Gronkowski questionable for the Patriots. Even outside of those two players, the injury report is a laundry list of key contributors. Everybody deals with injuries in the NFL, but it would be no surprise for both sides to be affected in this matchup.

INTRIGUING MATCHUPS

  • Colts RG Matt Slauson/RT vs. Patriots DT Lawrence Guy/DE Deatrich Wise Jr. — Slauson has been a steady addition for the Colts this year, but Pro Football Focus has graded him much higher as a pass protector than run blocker. The player he may be lined up against most, Guy, is graded much higher as a run stopper than pass rusher. Outside for the Colts, we don’t yet know who will be their right tackle. Denzelle Good, who likely would be the starter, is dealing with the tragic death of his brother just this week. Whoever is at right tackle for the Colts will largely get the assignment of Wise, who has been New England’s most productive pass rusher this year.
  • Colts DLs vs. Patriots OTs — The Colts are second in the NFL in sacks with 17, and it's due in large part to defensive linemen Jabaal Sheard, Margus Hunt, Kemoko Turay and Denico Autry. Patriots left tackle Trent Brown and right tackle Marcus Cannon have had their struggles this season. Brown has been credited with allowing 18 pressures/hurries, five hits and a sack. Cannon is credited with 14 pressures/hurries and two hits according to PFF. These appear to be matchups in which the Colts have an advantage.
  • Colts LBs Darius Leonard/Anthony Walker vs. Patriots RBs Sony Michel/James White — New England has a pair of very talented pass-catching backs in Michel and White. Michel is moreso a runner, but has proven since college that he can catch. Colts linebackers Leonard and Walker both have sideline to sideline range and will likely be kept busy with the Patriots' backfield.
  • Colts CB Pierre Desir vs. Patriots WR Chris Hogan/Josh Gordon — Right now, the Colts are very short handed at corner. Of their primary four, Desir is the only one not on the injury report. He is likely to draw the assignments of Hogan and Gordon on the outside. We've seen both receivers dominate games before in their careers.

REFEREE ASSIGNMENT

BETTING LINE

LEADERS

Colts:

  • Passing — QB Andrew Luck (1,126 yards)
  • Rushing — RB Jordan Wilkins (136 yards)
  • Receiving — WR T.Y. Hilton (294 yards)
  • Touchdowns — TE Eric Ebron, RB Nyheim Hines (3)
  • Tackles — LB Darius Leonard (54)
  • Sacks — DL Margus Hunt, LB Darius Leonard (4.0)
  • Interceptions — CB Pierre Desir, CB Kenny Moore II, LB Anthony Walker (1)

Patriots:

  • Passing — QB Tom Brady (918 yards)
  • Rushing — RB Sony Michel (196 yards)
  • Receiving — TE Rob Gronkowski (233 yards)
  • Touchdowns — RB James White (4)
  • Tackles — LB Kyle Van Noy (20)
  • Sacks — DE Deatrich Wise Jr. (2.5)
  • Interceptions — LB Ja’Whuan Bentley, CB Stephon Gilmore, CB J.C. Jackson, LB Kyle Van Noy (1)

COMPARING 2018 STATS

Colts:

  • Total offense — 24th (337.0 YPG)
  • Scoring offense — 17th (23.5 PPG)
  • Passing offense — 16th (265.0 YPG)
  • Running offense — 29th (72.0 YPG)
  • Third down offense — 1st (52%)
  • Red zone offense — 11th (60%)
  • Total defense — 19th (377.2 YPG)
  • Scoring defense — 18th (25.0 PPG)
  • Passing defense — 18th (268.0 YPG)
  • Sacks — 2nd (17)
  • Running defense — 17th (109.2 YPG)
  • Third down defense — 22nd (43%)
  • Red zone defense — 15th (53.9%)
  • Time of possession — 30th (27:18)
  • Turnover margin — 15th (0)

Patriots:

  • Total offense — 23rd (337.2 YPG)
  • Scoring offense — 15th (23.8 PPG)
  • Passing offense — 22nd (220.2 YPG)
  • Running offense — 12th (117.0 YPG)
  • Third down offense — 16th (40%)
  • Red zone offense — 8th (66.7%)
  • Total defense — 11th (347.8 YPG)
  • Scoring defense — 12th (21.0 PPG)
  • Passing defense — 8th (226.2 YPG)
  • Sacks — 29th (6)
  • Running defense — 26th (121.5 YPG)
  • Third down defense — 23rd (44%)
  • Red zone defense — 10th (46.2%)
  • Time of possession — 21st (29:23)
  • Turnover margin — 14th (0)

NOTES AND QUOTES

  • The Colts are 12-3 all-time on TNF (9-1 on the road), including 4-2 in the Andrew Luck era (2012-Present). Luck is 4-0 on TNF.
  • This game features several people who were members of the other team previously. Current Patriots Allen, Dorsett, Guy, John Simon and offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia are former Colts. Current Colts Jacoby Brissett, Kenny Moore II, Sheard, Adam Vinatieri and special teams coaches Bubba Ventrone and Frank Ross are former Patriots.
  • Monday, the Colts signed linebacker Skai Moore and tight end Erik Swoope to the practice squad. Tuesday, they waived running back Jeremy McNichols and signed running back Jonathan Williams to the practice squad.
  • The Colts need one win to register 300 in the Indianapolis era. They would be just the 12th team to meet that mark since they moved to Indianapolis in 1984.
  • Luck needs to throw one touchdown to pass Manning (27) for the second-most consecutive games with a touchdown pass in franchise history. Luck would also tie Dave Krieg and Philip Rivers (28) for the 11th-longest streak in NFL history. Luck also needs one touchdown run to pass Bert Jones (14) for the second-most among quarterbacks in franchise history.
  • Vinatieri needs one field goal attempt to pass Gary Anderson (672) for the second-most in NFL history. With three made field goals from 40-49 yards, Vinatieri will pass Anderson (161) for the second-most from that distance in NFL history. Vinatieri needs one made field goal from 50-plus yards to pass Morten Anderson (40) for the sixth-most from that distance in NFL history. With five made extra point attempts, Vinatieri will pass Anderson (820) for the third-most in NFL history.
  • Reich on if he can take anything from his Super Bowl win with the Eagles against the Patriots into this matchup: “I mean it is part of the equation. It’s part of the equation, but I think every situation is unique. Obviously even within a season, but now with a different team looking at what your guys do and they are slightly different personnel-wise, we are (too). So, a small part of the equation.”
  • Reich on what changed for the Patriots last week after a slow start the first three weeks: “They got after the quarterback pretty good against Miami. They got after (Ryan) Tannehill. They really rushed the passer and got good pressure on him. That was the thing that jumped off the tape to me.”
  • Luck on if he hears from fans about how much they “hate” the Patriots: “Yeah, hate is a strong word but you hear fans share their disfavor with the Patriots. When appropriate, that’s a fun thing about sports. I think it is OK to have rivalries. I think it is OK to get behind your team and feel a little animosity towards the other team.”
  • Luck on his reaction to Ballard’s “rivalry” comment: “I chuckled. I’ve come to know Chris very well. From day one I really appreciate him. He’s been honest, communicative and I think a great leader for this building. So that was his authentic self-comment and that made me happy. I love when you get to see authenticity from people, especially your leaders in this building.”
  • Wide receiver Chester Rogers on if McDaniels has been mentioned at all this week: “Yeah, like one time but I said I don’t really too much care about it. I didn’t have any ties to him but I mean we are going to show him what he missed out on since he backed out. But there is nothing too big.”

NEXT WEEK

Colts:

  • New York Jets (1-3) (away)

Patriots:

  • Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) (home)

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