3 keys to the New England Patriots beating the Colts in Week 15

New England Patriots (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)
New England Patriots (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images) /

New England Patriots will play the Indianapolis Colts away in Week 15 after enjoying a bye week to heal up and prepare for this playoff-level team.

The Colts currently sit 6th in the playoff standings and in a Wild Card spot. So like all the games now, the Colts are a tough test for the Patriots who sit atop the AFC East by two games and at the top of the entire AFC.

Win out and the result is clear, they win the AFC East and the AFC and earn a bye week and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

New England Patriots first key to beating the Colts

It’s no secret that the Colts’ running attack led by future All-Pro Jonathan Taylor has to be derailed or at least blunted if the Patriots are to win.

Taylor was highly touted before the draft as a possible big back choice for New England Patriots. He wasn’t selected and has been a star since he entered the league with a bang in 2020.

Taylor is a big back listed at 5’10” tall and 226 pounds. He’s an all-purpose one-man wrecking crew.

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Last season in 15 games he ran for 1169 yards with 11 touchdowns and a five-yard per carry average. He added 36 catches for 299 yards and a touchdown catch.

In 2021, he’s been even better. Through 13 games, he’s run for 16 touchdowns, for 1368 yards, and a 5.6 yard per carry average. He’s also caught 36 for 336 yards and two additional touchdowns.

Taylor has feasted on AFC East opposition. He gashed the New York Jets for 172 yards on the ground and a total of four touchdowns, two each on the ground and through the air.

He also helped steamroll the Buffalo Bills with 185 yards on the ground, four rushing touchdowns, and one through the air. That’s five for that day.

Simply put, he’s been virtually unstoppable and if the Patriots are going to come out of Indianapolis with a win, their No. 1 objective has to be limiting Taylor.

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick is known for taking away the other team’s best asset and letting them try to beat you if they can without it. That’s easier said than done with Taylor.

Since he can beat you both on the ground and through the air, it’s a tall task. If the Patriots can’t limit Tayor, it’s simple, they’ll likely lose this tilt.

New England Patriots second key is controlling the ball on the ground

One way to keep Taylor quiet is to keep the ball away from Indianapolis’ offense. That’s done by a ground-and-pound approach similar to the one employed to stuff the Bills in Week 13.

The Colts surrender 4.5 yards per carry. Give that up to the Patriots’ three-headed rushing attack of Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, and Brandon Bolden and it could be a long day for the Colts.

In addition, after a quiet afternoon against the Bills, Patriots quarterback Mac Jones will be fired up to gash the Colts’ passing defense if they key on the run.

The Colts have given up 26 passing touchdowns, tied for second-most in the league, and a  completion percentage of 65.2. Jones will beat that easily if the Patriots pass.

Yet, the Patriots’ best bet is still to grind out yards and clock on the ground keeping the dynamic Taylor on the sidelines.

With their offensive line punishing defenses and their solid backs, they’re quite capable of doing just that. In this one, they’ll have to.

New England Patriots have to get sacks

The Colts’ passing game led by Carson Wentz completes a modest 63.1 percent of their passes.  Yet, he has thrown for 22 touchdowns and only five interceptions. That’s impressive. The Colts have a multi-faceted offense and that spells trouble.

Michael Pittman Jr. is their best receiver with 882 yards on 67 catches and five touchdowns. Taylor is third with his 36 catches.

While concentrating on Taylor is the prime directive, Wentz can wreck your afternoon if given time to throw. That’s why New England’s pass-rush must produce.

Pro-Bowler and maybe All-Pro to be Matt Judon as well as the Patriots’ pocket collapser, Christian Barmore are the keys there.

If Barmore continues blowing up passing plays, the Colts will be forced to go wide with both their rushing and passing attacks.

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Taylor can be devastating in each. They’ll then have to keep contain to thwart the Colts offense and sack Wentz at big moments.

The Week 15 Colts game is huge (as they all seem to be now) for the New England Patriots. To win they’ll have to bring their A-game both on offense and defense.

That’s the NFL in crunch time and the Patriots are right in the thick of it. These are three keys that may help them win if they can execute them. What do you think are the keys to this game?