The Indianapolis Colts (3-4-1) will be on the road in Week 9 to take on the New England Patriots (4-4) at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.
Before getting into this matchup that boasts plenty of history, we caught up with Patriots Wire managing editor Jordy McElroy to get the latest scoops on the team from Foxborough. Be sure to follow Jordy and Patriots Wire for all your Patriots needs leading up to the game.
We went behind enemy lines to ask Jordy five questions about the upcoming matchup:
How much of a quarterback controversy is there, and who has shown the most promise between Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe?
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Jordy McElroy: Zappe-Mania swept in like a thief in the night and robbed some Patriots fans of their love for the way the offense operated with Mac Jones under center. Bill Belichick didn’t do his second-year quarterback any favors by benching him after one interception thrown against the Chicago Bears. Then Zappe came out and threw two interceptions, and now, we’re right back on the Jones train.
I can’t deny that it’s been a mess. But no, I don’t believe the Patriots are dealing with a quarterback controversy—at least not right now. That could obviously change in a few weeks if Jones keeps playing hot potato with too many interceptions.
I still believe the Patriots are a better football team with Jones as the starter. I’m refusing to live in a world where New England wants to replace a former first-round draft pick because the backup had a couple of good games against the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns. No thank you!
The Patriots are dealing with a lot of injuries. How might they impact the game?
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Jordy McElroy: The biggest concern right now for the Patriots is along the offensive front with right tackle Marcus Cannon and center David Andrews being out. Mac Jones got pancaked by the New York Jets’ pass-rushers last week for six sacks and eight quarterback hits.
So yes, fingers are crossed that Jones isn’t doing snow angels in the dirt on Sunday. The Colts have defensive playmakers that can get after the quarterback, and the Patriots’ offensive line loves to hand out sacks and free penalties.
If Jones gets pummeled and starts making mistakes, the Zappe chants could echo throughout Gillette Stadium, again.
The Colts have been pretty stout against the run. How would the Patriots offense thrive if it needs to lean on the pass?
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Jordy McElroy: The Patriots aren’t as anemic of a passing offense as some might think, especially if they’re able to lean on the play-action pass. But as you eloquently pointed out, the Colts have a legitimate run-stuffing defense. Can the Patriots run the ball effectively enough to even be able to work out of the play-action pass?
Your guess is as good as mine.
But Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson is a threat as a pass-catcher and somewhat of a newfound safety blanket for Jones. Outside of Jakobi Meyers, no one really stands out as a playmaker for the Patriots at receiver. But make no mistake, they do have a lot of good players at the position with rookie Tyquan Thornton, Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne (DeVante Parker is out with an injury). We’ll see if “good” is good enough against an underrated Colts defense.
Which players might be flying under the radar entering this game?
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Jordy McElroy: I’m going to give the rookies some shine in this segment. Let’s keep the focus on the receivers with Thornton. The rookie second-round draft pick has the kind of speed that can blow a grown man out of his shoes. He’s still playing catch-up after missing the early part of the season with a broken collarbone. So it could only be a matter of time before he has a breakout performance.
On the defensive side of the ball, Jack Jones is flashing rare potential as a future lockdown cornerback in the league. If the Colts struggle to move the ball on the ground, Jones is going to be someone in coverage Sam Ehlinger needs to watch out for when attempting to make throws downfield.
Prediction, final score?
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Jordy McElroy: The Patriots are playing at home and coming in with some confidence after a big win on the road over the New York Jets. I love their chances facing a Colts team that just fired their offensive coordinator with no Jonathan Taylor in the lineup. Sam Ehlinger making his second NFL start against a Belichick-coached defense should end well for the Patriots. Colts 14, Patriots 28