Reassessing the New England Patriots final six games of the season

Christian Barmore #90 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Christian Barmore #90 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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New England Patriots
Jonathan Taylor #28 of the Indianapolis Colts (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

New England Patriots Week 14 opponent: Indianapolis Colts

The Indianapolis Colts are the latest subject of HBO’s popular “Hard Knocks” series, and depending on how things work out, Patriots fans may get to see an inside look at how the Colts prepare for their Week 14 contest against New England. The Colts, much like the Patriots, have turned things around after a slow start. They opened the season 0-3, and now find themselves in the thick of the AFC Wild Card hunt with a 5-5 record.

The Colts could end up being a much tougher opponent than initially anticipated. Their offensive gameplan revolves primarily around star running back Jonathan Taylor, who will be the NFL’s leading rusher when Week 11 is in the books. They have a solid passing attack led by Philadelphia Eagles outcast Carson Wentz, and a solid wide receiver duo of Michael Pittman Jr. and T.Y. Hilton.

Taylor and a solid Colts offensive line could spell New England’s defense some trouble. Taylor has topped 100 yards of scrimmage in each of his last seven games, and he’s doing it on superb efficiency too. Of those seven games, he’s only had 20+ touches three times, which is almost unheard of in the NFL nowadays. If Taylor can get going, New England is probably in trouble.

However, the offense will probably have a favorable matchup against a weaker Indy defense. They rank 20th in the league so far, and while they have some star players like Darius Leonard and DeForest Buckner that can wreak havoc on any play, it’s not a very deep unit. Their secondary isn’t very talented, and their linebacker corps falls off considerably after Leonard.

There will be matchups for Jones and the offense to exploit early and often in this one. The double tight end set involving Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith might actually be of use for once, and even if it’s not, the wide receivers should be able to find some space in the secondary. This may be a rare instance where the offense is relied upon to pull out a victory, and this game could end up being a very telling sign of where this team stands 14 games into the Mac Jones era.

Taylor’s performance is going to be the X factor in this one. If he can find room to run, it’s going to be a tough game for the Patriots to prevail in. If the Patriots defense can force Wentz to try to win Indy this game, that works in New England’s favor. This could end up being a trap game for the Pats, and they will need to do their best to avoid a loss in this one.