INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts (5-3) are back at home this week against the Miami Dolphins (1-7), trying to bounce back after coming home from last Sunday's road trip with their first loss in a month.
Some costly injuries and self-inflicted wounds led to the Colts' Week 9 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, while the Dolphins got off the schneid with their first victory of the season, a 26-18 home victory over AFC East Division rival New York Jets.
After last week's bump in the road, the Colts will be hungry, angry and looking to get back into the 'Win' column in front of their home crowd at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday — in a game in which legendary defensive end Dwight Freeney will be inducted into the Ring of Honor.
Let's take a look at this week's opponent.
Jets' Passing Game
Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, who was looking for a bounce-back performance against Miami, was efficient passing the ball but was unable to do enough against the Dolphins' defense. He went 27-of-39 (69.2 percent) passing for 260 yards (6.7 YPA), one touchdown and one interception (Jomal Wiltz), and took three sacks (Davon Godchaux, Nik Needham, Christian Wilkins), for a passer rating of 85.4.
Darnold's primary pass catchers were wide receiver Jamison Crowder (eight catches for 83 yards and one touchdown), running back Le'Veon Bell (eight catches for 55 yards) and tight end Ryan Griffin (six catches for 50 yards).
Jets' Run Game
As the Jets' bell cow runner, Bell obviously led the way in the backfield with 17 carries for 66 yards (3.9 avg.) and a long run of 14 yards. As a team, New York ran it 21 times for 83 yards (4.0 avg.).
The Dolphins had some standout defenders against both the pass and run. Needham totaled nine tackles (one for loss), one sack and one quarterback hit. Defensive tackles Wilkins and Godchaux also had a big day, combining for 10 tackles (three for loss), two sacks and three quarterback hits.
Dolphins' Passing Game
Since switching back to Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback, Miami's passing game has taken off a little more including last Sunday against the Jets. Fitzpatrick went 24-of-36 passing (66.7 percent) for 288 yards (8.0 YPA), three touchdowns, no interceptions, but he was sacked four times for a passer rating of 118.7.
Tight end Mike Gesicki led the team in receiving, catching all six targets for 95 yards (15.8 avg.). Rookie receiver Preston Williams led the receiving corps with five receptions for 72 yards (14.4 avg.) and two touchdowns. Receiver DeVante Parker did his own damage, catching 4-of-6 targets for 57 yards (14.3 avg.) and a touchdown.
Dolphins' Run Game
Miami's run game continued to be shaky, even in a win. Starter Mark Walton carried the ball 12 times for 29 yards (2.4 avg.), and Kalen Ballage ran seven times for 19 yards (2.7 avg.). As a team, Miami ran the ball 24 times for 50 yards (2.1 avg.).
This game could very well be shaped by the absences of several players who participated for the respective teams just last week. Colts' starting quarterback Jacoby Brissett was knocked out of last week's game with a sprained left MCL in his knee and was replaced by Brian Hoyer. Brissett's status for this week is up in the air. Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton is expected to remain out this week while nursing a calf injury while Parris Campbell suffered a hand injury and will miss some time. For the Dolphins, Williams, their leading receiver, suffered a knee injury against the Jets and is expected to miss the rest of the season, while Walton has been suspended for the next four games for violating the NFL's conduct and substance abuse policy.
Dolphins' Passing Game
Without Williams, Fitzpatrick will primarily have Parker, Gesicki and Grant to throw to. That factors in the departure of running back Kenyan Drake, who is second on the team in carries and fourth in pass targets although he was traded to the Arizona Cardinals last week. Overall, the Dolphins struggle to protect the quarterback and now are at risk of having their receivers take slightly longer to get open with the loss of Williams.
The Colts' defense, meanwhile, has been hot lately. In the last four games, they are allowing just 18.8 points per game, 232 passing yards and have 11 sacks. One thing that will bear monitoring is the status of starting cornerback Pierre Desir, who missed last week with a hamstring injury. In his absence, though, rookie Marvell Tell III did so well that he made Pro Football Focus' "NFL Week 9 Team of the Week."
- QB Ryan Fitzpatrick — 61.1 percent completions, 1,195 yards, 6.8 YPA, 8 TD, 7 INT, 14 sacks
- WR Preston Williams — 32 catches (60 targets), 428 yards (13.4 avg.), 3 TD
- WR DeVante Parker — 28 catches (52 targets), 400 yards (14.3 avg.), 4 TD
- TE Mike Gesicki — 21 catches (31 targets), 248 yards (11.8 avg.)
- WR Jakeem Grant — 14 catches (27 targets), 117 yards (8.4 avg.)
Dolphins' Run Game
The Dolphins' run game, while it cannot be overlooked, has proven to this point to be containable. Without Walton and Drake, all other Dolphins ball carriers have totaled 63 carries for 135 yards (2.1 avg.) and three touchdowns. Sixty-four of those yards and one of those touchdowns are from pocket-passing quarterbacks.
The Colts have been great against the run lately as opponents average 22.8 carries for 84.8 yards (3.7 avg.) and two total touchdowns over their last four games.
- RB Mark Walton — 53 carries, 201 yards (3.8 avg.)
- RB Kalen Ballage — 35 carries, 70 yards (2.0 avg.), 2 TD
- QB Ryan Fitzpatrick — 20 carries, 51 yards (2.5 avg.), 1 TD
- QB Josh Rosen — 3 carries, 13 yards (4.3 avg.)
Colts' Passing Game
Will it be Brissett or Hoyer this week? Regardless, the Colts' passing game should have some success. While it may not be voluminous (we'll get to that in a moment), it should be efficient. The Dolphins' defense ranks near the bottom of the league in several passing categories, including 20th overall (251.6 YPG), tied-23rd in completion percentage (67.1), 26th in pass plays of 20-plus yards (34), tied-27th in interceptions (3), tied-28th in passing touchdowns (19), 29th in yards per pass attempt, 29th in passer rating and 30th in sacks. With all that in consideration, Miami lost its best defender, cornerback Xavien Howard, for the season to a knee injury two weeks ago. Howard had a pair of interceptions against the Colts in a Week 12 matchup last season.
Without Hilton and Campbell, either Brissett or Hoyer will likely lean heavily on receiver Zach Pascal, tight ends Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron and running back Nyheim Hines in the passing game. Receivers Chester Rogers and Deon Cain will likely be expected to step up as well.
- QB Jacoby Brissett — 64.8 percent completions, 1,649 yards, 7.0 YPA, 14 TD, 3 INT, 12 sacks
- WR T.Y. Hilton — 32 catches (46 targets), 360 yards (11.3 avg.), 5 TD
- TE Jack Doyle — 24 catches (34 targets), 232 yards (9.7 avg.), 3 TD
- TE Eric Ebron — 18 catches (31 targets), 248 yards (13.8 avg.), 3 TD
- RB Nyheim Hines — 23 catches (29 targets), 188 yards (8.2 avg.)
Colts' Run Game
Whether it's a quarterback with a banged-up knee or his backup under center against the Dolphins, the plan might be to fire up the run game. Miami's opponent has run for at least 100 yards in all but two games, which includes two games of more than 235 yards. The Colts, on the other hand, have five games with at least 100 rushing yards including three of those being at least 150 yards.
The Colts' running backs, led by Marlon Mack who is on pace for over 1,300 rushing yards, are a deep, effective group. While Mack ranks ninth in the league in rushing, Jordan Wilkins's yards per carry ranks third in the NFL among players with at least 20 carries, and Hines ranks 13th in the NFL in PFF receiving grade among running backs.
Despite the injuries, the Colts should still have an edge on offense vs. defense, as they rank third in red-zone offense (67.9 percent) while the Dolphins are 28th in that area defensively.
- RB Marlon Mack — 159 carries, 679 yards (4.3 avg.), 3 TD
- QB Jacoby Brissett — 37 carries, 110 yards (3.0 avg.), 1 TD
- RB Jordan Wilkins — 24 carries, 145 yards (6.0 avg.)
- RB Nyheim Hines — 19 carries, 52 yards (2.7 avg.
DOLPHINS' 2019 KEY STATS
- 26th in third-down conversions (33%)
- 29th in passing (198.5 YPG)
- 30th in total offense (262.2 YPG)
- 30th in scoring (12.9 PPG)
- 30th in sacks allowed (32)
- 31st in time of possession (27:07 avg.)
- 31st in passer rating (69.3)
- 31st in rushing (63.8 YPG)
- 32nd in turnover differential (-13)
- 32nd in rushing yards per carry (3.1)
- 27th in third-down conversions (45%)
- 28th in red-zone scoring (64.3%)
- 29th in total defense (402.4 YPG)
- 29th in passing yards per attempt (8.6)
- 29th in passer rating (114.6)
- 30th in sacks (12)
- 31st in rushing (150.8 YPG)
- 32nd in scoring (32.0 PPG)