This is a get-through game.
After the New England Patriots (2-2) ended a two-game losing skid with a dominant performance in a 38-7 rout of the Miami Dolphins this past Sunday, they will look to continue the momentum by welcoming the Indianapolis Colts tonight.
The Colts (1-3) are coming off a tough overtime defeat against the Houston Texans in which head coach Frank Reich made a controversial decision to go for it in overtime on fourth down in their own territory, which resulted in a turnover on downs. This tough loss, combined with a quick turnaround on the road and injuries on multiple fronts makes this a less than ideal situation for the visitors tonight. Quarterback Andrew Luck has not fared well in his career against the Patriots, as he is 0-5 against New England.
He does not have a ton of help offensively, as star wideout T.Y. Hilton will not be able to suit up due to a hamstring injury. To make matters worse, Luck will be without running back Marlon Mack, as well as tight end Jack Doyle. Look for Eric Ebron, Ryan Grant, and Chester Rogers to try and fill the massive void.
On the other side, the Patriots are welcoming back slot receiver Julian Edelman, who will be active for the first time this season after serving a four-game suspension. This will be the first time Edelman will be donning a Patriot uniform in a meaningful contest since the Super Bowl victory over the Atlanta Falcons, as he missed all of last season with an ACL injury he suffered in the preseason. Speaking of injuries, tight end Rob Gronkowski will be active after leaving in the second half with an ankle injury. As Ryan Spagnoli noted on Twitter, this will be the first time that Gronk, Edelman and Tom Brady will be together on the field for the first time in 31 games.
It will be interesting to see how much the offense will open up now that the Patriots have the slot receiver that they have been desperately missing. The question that looms, however, is how will Edelman look after missing over a year of regular season football? Expect there to be a little rust from the two-time Super Bowl Champion, but his presence should help open the middle of the field for the likes of Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, Josh Gordon, and Gronkowski.
Should the Patriots have any trouble with the Colts Thursday night? Absolutely not. Even if the Colts want to make this a revenge game against New England’s offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, as he left them at the altar when it was expected he was to become the next head coach this offseason, the simple fact remains that the Colts do not have the personnel to compete with a healthy Patriots squad.
Even with a short week of preparation, the Patriots would be smart to go up big early and rest the starters in the second half, thus not risking any injuries prior to next week’s Sunday Night showdown between an impressive Kansas City Chiefs team.