The Indianapolis Colts (4-5) will be looking to gain some momentum heading into the bye week, but they first take on the New England Patriots (2-7) at Deutsche Bank Park in Frankfurt, Germany on Sunday.
The overseas games are always unpredictable in nature. Players are dealing with an entirely new environment while the jet lag from the flight over likely still lingers a bit. Most games come down to a few key matchups whether it’s a one-on-one battle or between position groups as a whole.
Here are the key matchups to watch in this Week 10 bout:
Patriots DL Christian Barmore vs. Colts interior OL
Barmore is enjoying another strong season spending most of his time rushing the passer from the three and five techniques. His 24 total pressures rank 16th among all interior defensive linemen while his 12.3% pass-rush win rate ranks 14th among qualified interior defenders, according to Pro Football Focus. The interior offensive line for the Colts has been stout this season. Quenton Nelson is enjoying a strong bounce-back season while Ryan Kelly has been playing as one of the best centers in the NFL. Right guard Will Fries has played solid football as well, making this the matchup that likely determines the outcome.
Colts WR Michael Pittman Jr. vs. Patriots CB Jack Jones
Jones popped up on the injury report Friday with a knee injury so it will be interesting to see how that impacts his performance on Sunday. It hasn’t been all that fun for Jones in the three games since making his season debut in Week 7. He’s allowed a 134.0 passer rating in coverage thus far albeit on a very limited sample. The Colts are going to lean heavily into the services of Pittman Jr., who leads the offense in every major receiving category.
Patriots RB Rhamondre Stevenson vs. Colts front seven
The Colts will truly miss the presence of Grover Stewart in this game as they have throughout his suspension. Stevenson may be one of the league’s most underrated backs, especially from a versatility standpoint. The 25-year-old back is tied for fifth among running backs with 29 receptions and is eighth among backs with 215 receiving yards. The Colts defense has struggled against the run for the majority of the season and even more so without Stewart. They’ve allowed the most rushing touchdowns (15) and the sixth-most rushing yards (1,130) in the NFL entering Week 10. Stopping Stevenson will be a major focus.
Patriots WR Demario Douglas vs. Colts VB Kenny Moore II
This will be a fun matchup to watch. The rookie Douglas has come on steadily as a contributor from the slot. With Kendrick Bourne out for the season, Douglas becomes the leader in the receiving room. Among active players on the roster, Douglas leads New England wideouts targets (37), receptions (24), receiving yards (277) and first downs (13).
Meanwhile, Moore is having an excellent bounce-back campaign. He’s playing at a Pro Bowl level and is coming off a historic game in which he returned two interceptions for touchdowns. According to Pro Football Focus, Moore has allowed 35 receptions on 46 targets for 292 yards and a 64.8 passer rating. His passer rating allowed in coverage is good for eighth-best among qualified cornerbacks. He’s enjoying an elite season from the slot and has been a consistent game-changer every week.