Behind Enemy Lines: Previewing the Patriots’ Week 9 matchup with Colts Wire

A little less than two weeks removed from the Monday Night Football meltdown, the New England Patriots (4-4) return to Gillette Stadium for a Week 9 showdown with the visiting Indianapolis Colts (3-4-1).

The Patriots got back on track in a road meeting with the New York Jets last week and put themselves in a position to get over .500 win percentage for the first time this season. They’ll have to knock off the same Colts team that beat them 27-17 last season at Lucas Oil Stadium.

However, things are much different for Indy this year considering the quarterback situation and no Jonathan Taylor, who rushed for 170 yards and one touchdown against the Patriots in the previous meeting.

We caught up with Colts Wire’s managing editor Kevin Hickey to get more perspective from the opponent’s side of this AFC clash.

Here are six questions for Colts Wire:

Sam Ehlinger will be making his second NFL start against the Patriots. What’s one area you’re confident he can do well and one area you’re worried he’ll struggle?

Making plays out of structure is the biggest difference he makes compared to Matt Ryan. That ability helps open up the RPO offense a bit more while adding in some designed runs. He’s also pretty confident in the pocket and showed promise as a quarterback willing to slide and move up rather than immediately bail in the face of pressure.

However, there is still a lot of work to be done on his deep accuracy and ability to recognize pre-snap reads. Going against Bill Belichick will be one of the toughest challenges of his career already, especially considering the history Belichick has against inexperienced quarterbacks.

No Jonathan Taylor. No Nyheim Hines. Are the Colts confident they can get their ground game going with Deon Jackson leading the way?

They shouldn’t be. Even with Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines, they couldn’t get the run game going. The Patriots have been extremely tough against the run this season and even though Jackson has a nice blend of size and speed with the ability to catch the ball, I’m not expecting the ground game to be much of a factor given what we’ve seen during the first two months of the season.

The Colts just fired their offensive coordinator, Marcus Brady. Are there concerns with the team’s ability to adjust ahead of a road matchup with the Patriots?

Potentially. Frank Reich will take over those duties, which included game-planning and play-design. But even if Brady was around, it was expected to be a tough matchup on the road against a team they haven’t beaten in Foxborough since 2006.

The adjustments that need to be made along the offensive line are the biggest keys for the Colts, and there haven’t been many signs that they are getting better in that area, regardless of who is the offensive coordinator.

Like the Patriots, turnovers have been a big problem for the Colts. How can Indy limit the turnovers with a young and inexperienced QB under center?

Lather their hands in stickum. I mean, really, the fumbles have been outrageous, and a lot of it has come from them just failing to hold onto the ball. One of Ehlinger’s fumbles literally came from him trying to switch hands to tuck the ball and run, and he just straight up dropped the ball.

In terms of limiting passing turnovers, they’ll have to be smart when they take their shots, but at least Ehlinger showed some promise in that area of not forcing too many throws into tight windows. We’ll see if that maintains against the Patriots, though.

Stephon Gilmore earned honors as the Defensive Player of the Year when he was a Patriot. How good is he still at age 32, and what kind of an impact do you expect him to have on this game?

He’s been fantastic. Through the first month of the season, he was the team’s MVP. The presence he brings to one half of the field is incredible, and the Colts have really needed that veteran voice in the secondary. Even though he doesn’t travel into the slot, Gilmore will need to be the leader in limiting Jakobi Meyers, who is one of the most underrated receivers in the NFL.

What’s your prediction?

The Colts haven’t won in Foxborough since 2006 and there’s no reason to assume anything will change. They have arguably the worst offense in football without its star running back, and there have been more storylines about off-field issues than on-field ones. The defense will be good enough to keep the game close, but the Colts offense will struggle. Patriots 20, Colts 14

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Story originally appeared on Patriots Wire