The Pats overcome a sloppy second half to put away the Colts!

TEAM

1

2

3

4

T

IND 0 3 7 14 24

NE

7 17 0 14 38

Yesterday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts (1-4) was truly a tale of two halves, as the Patriots started blistering hot in the first half, but made a series of mental mistakes in the second half that enabled Andrew Luck and the Colts to get back in the game. Thankfully, Bill Belichick’s team was able to get their act together, and close out Indy with a final score of 38-24 in order to improve to 3-2 on the season.

Here are some takeaways from last night’s victory.

1. TB12 and the offense will only continue to get better

The major headline leading into yesterday’s game was the return of Julian Edelman from his 4 game suspension. #11 did not miss a beat, as he caught the game’s first pass, and also had 2 other receptions on the Patriots’ first drive which spanned 6 minutes and put the Patriots up early. Edelman had 7 receptions for 57 yards, which may not look very special, but it’s hard to deny the impact his presence had on the rest of the offense.

Tom Brady had a pretty good game last night, as he completed 34 of 44 passes for 341 yards and 3 touchdowns, to go along with 2 interceptions ( more on those later). Brady was surgically efficient right from the get-go, and his successful night can be attributed to the offensive line’s remarkable performance, as he was rarely touched or disturbed throughout the game. Last night’s performance for the GOAT can also be described as record breaking, as he completed a touchdown to a record 71st different receiver, and also reached 500 touchdowns on his career (only Peyton Manning and Brett Favre have more).

Brady also had solid contributions from his other pass-catchers, including James White (10 receptions for 77 yards and 1 touchdown) and Rob Gronkowski (6 receptions for 75 yards), who enabled the Patriots to stretch the field with ease. Josh Gordon certainly frustrated both fantasy owners and Brady in the first half, but he proved his worth in the second half with 2 catches for 50 yards, including a 34 yard jaw-dropping touchdown under double coverage in the fourth quarter which helped put the game away. It’s important to note that Gordon is dealing with a nagging hamstring injury and is still getting acclimated with the Patriots’ system. Hence, Brady having the confidence to fling a deep ball to Gordon speaks volumes about the work he has put in and makes us optimistic about his future with the team.

Sony Michel had another solid performance on the ground, as he had 18 carries for 98 yards and a game-sealing 34-yard touchdown. Michel has clearly improved as the season has progressed, and his elusiveness and decision-making make him a threat to be wary of for opposing defenses.

At the same time, yesterday’s game was not without blunders for the Brady Bunch. As mentioned earlier, #12 had 2 interceptions which cannot be completely pinned on him. The first interception went through the hands of Chris Hogan and right into the hands of a Colts defender, while the second one was caused by a defender smashing Gronk, which tipped the ball to another Colts defender. These two plays occurred in the red zone, when the Pats were driving and threatening to extend their lead over Indy. As a result, instead of going up 31-10 and finishing the game, they gave the Colts new life and only a 7 point deficit.

Another thing to pay attention to is Gronk’s lingering ankle injury, as he was noticably limping throughout the game. Gronk’s health will be vital for the Patriots to have a chance at another Super Bowl run.

There were enough bright spots in yesterday’s game to be highly optimistic about the performance of the offense for the rest of the season.

jules v colts w5.jpg
(Photo by Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)

2. The defense was very inconsistent

The Pats’ defense was rock solid in the first half, as they were able to limit the Colts to 3 points, which allowed the Pats to take a 24-3 halftime lead. However, they allowed Andrew Luck and the Colts offense to find a rhythm in the second half, as Indy was able to trim their deficit to 24-17. It was disappointing to see the pass rush only sack Luck once, considering the very public struggles the Indianapolis offensive line has had over the last few seasons. Also, Devin McCourty had a dreadful game last night, as he gave up two touchdowns on man coverage.

At the same time, the secondary was opportunistic, as they were able to pick off Luck twice. Devin McCourty also made up for his blunders by ripping the ball from a Colts running back in the third quarter (following Brady’s first interception). I think it’s fair to say that the offense’s sloppy start to the second half put the defense in unfavorable circumstances. On the plus side, the Pats defense will have 10 days to regroup and study film before their big matchup with the Chiefs in Week 6.

andrew luck v pats w5.jpg
(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Statistical Leaders:

Patriots

Passing: Tom Brady – 34/44 for 341 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception

Rushing: Sony Michel – 18 carries for 98 yards and 1 touchdown

Receiving: James White – 10 receptions for 77 yards and 1 touchdown off of 14 targets

Defensive: Devin McCourty – 11 tackles and one forced/recovered fumble

Colts

Passing: Andrew Luck – 38/59 for 365 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions

Rushing: Nyheim Hines – 15 carries for 45 yards

Receiving: Eric Ebron – 9 receptions for 105 yards and 2 touchdowns off of 15 targets

Defensive: Lenzy Pipkins – 6 tackles

 

Bonus: Take a look at what @CaptAndrewLuck had to say about last night’s game.

What’s next?: The Pats have a big matchup against Patrick Mahomes and the high-flying Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) which could very well help to decide home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs down the line.

Reigniting the rivalry?: The Pats face the Colts for the first time in 3 seasons!

In the early 2000’s, the Patriots and Colts had one of the most competitive rivalries in the NFL, as the two teams frequently waged battle to see who would reign over the rest of the AFC. However, the rivalry faded following the departure of Peyton Manning from Indy, and the matchup has been one-sided in favor of the Patriots in recent memory.

 There are several analysts who believe that the rivalry has been reignited due to Patriots Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels accepting and then turning down the Colts’ head coaching job during the offseason. We’ll find out if the rivalry is truly back when the Patriots host the Colts (1-3) tomorrow night on Thursday Night Football!

Here are some things to consider entering this Week 5 contest.

1. Will Jules’ return be the catalyst the Patriots’ offense needs?

The Patriots’ offense has had an up-and-down start to the 2018-19 season, as they were brilliant in Weeks 1 & 4, but were absolutely inept during Weeks 2 & 3. All things considered, I truly believe that Week 4 against the Dolphins was a step in the right direction for the Patriots, as they were able to establish a consistent running game, and also got solid contributions from their wide receivers (including new addition Josh Gordon). 

This week may be even better for the Pats, as they welcome back Julian Edelman, who was serving a 4-game suspension due to the use of performance enhancing drugs. Ironically enough, the last time the Patriots had Edelman in action for a meaningful game was during their historic comeback against the Falcons in Super Bowl LI. Most analysts believe that Edelman’s return to the lineup will help relieve pressure off of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. This will definitely be the case, as Edelman has the skillset required to shake off opposing cornerbacks and get open across the middle of the field. #11 will definitely draw attention from the defense, which will be useful for Gronk and can help to make life easier for the Patriots’ other receivers. Throw Josh Gordon into the mix, and it’s hard not to be excited!

jules v colts .jpg
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

2. Stopping Captain Luck and his army!

For those who don’t understand why I’m calling Andrew Luck ‘captain’, allow me to enlighten you. For the past 3 years, there has been a Twitter account known as @CaptAndrewLuck, which imagines Luck as a Civil War general (due to his infamous neckbeard). The account usually tweets about Luck and the Colts’ matchups against other teams, using terms usually associated with battles (in the form of a letter to his mother). Check out his tweet about the Patriots from Monday.

Getting back to the game, Luck has been impressive in his return from injury, as he has done his best to lead the Colts to victory, even though he has been let down by his offensive line and coaching staff. Luckily enough for the Patriots, Luck will be playing without his top target in T.Y. Hilton who got injured during the Colts’ Week 4 loss to the Texans. 

Both teams will likely be using tape from the Patriots’ loss to Philadelphia in Super Bowl LII, as Indy’s current coach, Frank Reich was the Eagles’ offensive coordinator at the time. Reich crafted a brilliant game plan that absolutely dissected the Patriots’ defense, and enabled the Eagles to earn their first Lombardi Trophy. Hopefully, Bill Belichick & Co. will be ready this time around to face a Reich-coached offense.

andrew luck v pats .jpg
(Photo by Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports)

3. Injury Report

Patriots

  • Rob Gronkowski (ankle) – Questionable
  • Jacob Hollister (chest) – Questionable
  • Josh Gordon (hamstring) – Questionable
  • Eric Rowe (groin) – Questionable
  • Elandon Roberts (calf) – Questionable
  • Geneo Grissom (ankle) – Questionable
  • Adam Butler (knee) – Questionable
  • Danny Shelton (elbow) – Questionable

Colts

  • T.Y. Hilton (chest/hamstring) – Out
  • Jack Doyle (hip) – Out
  • Marlon Mack (hamstring) – Out
  • Kenny Moore (concussion) – Out
  • Quincy Wilson (concussion) – Out
  • Hassan Ridgeway (calf) – Out

 

Bonus: Color Rush is back!

The Patriots will don their absolutely gorgeous Color Rush uniforms against Indy. Shouldn’t they just switch to these full time?

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(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

PredictionPatriots 35, Colts 17

 

Here are my predictions for the rest of the NFL’s Week 5 contests.

Last week: 10-4

Titans at BillsTitans

Falcons at SteelersFalcons

Broncos at JetsBroncos

Jaguars at ChiefsChiefs

Packers at LionsPackers

Ravens at Browns: Ravens

Giants at PanthersPanthers

Dolphins at BengalsBengals

Raiders at ChargersChargers

Cardinals at 49ersCardinals

Vikings at EaglesVikings

Rams at SeahawksRams

Cowboys at Texans: Cowboys

Redskins at SaintsSaints