Indianapolis Colts (5-6) vs New York Jets (3-8)
8:30pm ET on ESPN
The tone was set for the Colts on the first play from scrimmage Thursday against the Steelers, as second-string QB Scott Tolzien, playing in pace of the concussed Andrew Luck, dropped back to pass, only to have the ball swatted from his raised hand. Tolzien would recover, but two play later, on 3-and-20, he would hit Robert Turbin for a 5-yard loss. Tolzien would play better, but not well enough to counter Pittsburgh’s high-octane offense, with Ben Roethlisberger completing 14 of 20 for 221 yards and 3 TDs, Le’Veon Bell rushing 23 times for 120 yards and a TD, and Antonio Brown catching 5 passes for 91 yards and 3 TDs. Tolzien was able to move the ball on occasion, but the red zone was a challenge, as he twice got stuffed at the 1-yard line trying to run it in on 3rd down, only to twice go for it on 4th-and-goal and throw an incompletion. Making matters worse was his receiving corps developing a case of the dropsies, and by the time the 4th quarter rolled around, some combination of desperation and fatigue caused Tolzien to throw interceptions on back-to-back drives. The good news is that Luck is back on Monday, the bad news is that he’s never beaten the Jets, and the Colts have one of the worst defenses in the league, ranking in the bottom five in points, yards, passing yards, turnovers, yards per play (dead last), 1st downs, penalties, penalty yards… they’re terrible.
Oh, the Jets… Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is coming off perhaps his best game of the season, but it was in yet another losing effort. Fitzpatrick completed 22 of 32 for 269 yards and a pair of TDs, and ld his team to a 10-0 lead at the top of the 2nd quarter, but ultimately lost to the Patriots, 22-17. The Jets did an OK job of containing Brady, who completed 30 of 50 for 286 yards and a pair of TDs, but as has been the case all season, New York had trouble coming up with the big play, the momentum changer, as they failed to record a sack or force a turnover all day. The Jets are now 0-5 when they fail to force a turnover, 3-3 when they have at least 1, and on the season have a -13 turnover margin. Last year they were +6, and went 0-3 without a turnover and 10-3 with one – notice the pattern? It may explain in part why they’re giving up 4.6 more points per game this year. The other problem, one that was entirely foreseeable, was the regression of Ryan Fitzpatrick, whose QBR last season was a career-high 63.63, as he passed for 3,905 yards and 31 touchdowns, with 15 interceptions. This year those numbers are 55.9, 2,252, 10, and 13. QBs don’t suddenly find their way at 33.
The Colts are fighting for their playoff lives, are sitting a game back of the Texans in the AFC South, and have Andrew Luck coming back, while the Jets are just playing out the string, and have Ryan Fitzpatrick coming back. It doesn’t matter that the Colts’ defense is terrible.
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