New York Jets vs. Indianapolis Colts: Matchups, prediction for a surprisingly intriguing prime-time encounter

How do the matchups break down in this New York Jets vs. Indianapolis Colts game, and what is our prediction for how it may turn out?

Thursday Night Football’s New York Jets vs. Indianapolis Colts game took on a new look with the performance of Jets quarterback Mike White. Let’s take a look at the matchups for this Jets at Colts game, and make a prediction for what might happen when New York and Indianapolis face off in prime time.

New York Jets offense vs. Indianapolis Colts defense

The transformation in the Jets’ offense under White last week was quite something. The Bengals’ defense isn’t all of a sudden a problem — they’ve put up some solid numbers defensively this season.

Under White, the Jets scored their first points in the first quarter this season. They also crossed the 30-point mark for the first time in 2021. Now, they need to do it again on Thursday against the Colts.

Mike White vs. Colts defense

It is hard to read too much into one performance from White. We often see a new QB play well during his first couple of starts. Prior to that, a limited amount of film is available on a QB, and defenses are having to adjust to him on the fly during games. As defenses get more familiar with a QB and his nuances, we tend to see performances slightly drop.

The encouraging sign from White under center for the Jets is that he came out the gate firing and had the offense moving. He completed 10 straight passes to open the game. He then stumbled a bit (2 interceptions in 3 passes) before composing himself and regrouping.

When you look at the numbers for the game, the Jets still played it somewhat safe with White. He averaged just 3.7 intended air yards per pass attempt. That was nearly half the numbers posted by Bengals QB Joe Burrow. White benefited from his receivers averaging 7.5 yards after the catch on average, giving him 277 yards after the catch in total. For context, Burrow got 5.8 yards per completion and 121 yards in total.

The positive for White is that this week he faces a fairly mediocre defense. The Colts are allowing a 70% completion rate (third-highest number in the league). Additionally, their 7.4% touchdown rate allowed is the highest in the league. The one thing that White needs to be cautious about is the opportunistic defense of the Colts — they have 9 interceptions at a rate of 3.5% of pass attempts being intercepted. The Jets should be able to move the ball, but White needs to be careful of costly turnovers.

Advantage: Jets

Jets skill-position players vs. Colts secondary

The Jets’ skill-position players helped White out in their Week 8 game against the Bengals. Michael Carter and Ty Johnson added 182 yards after the catch, with Jamison Crowder and Elijah Moore averaging over 5 yards after the catch per reception. Against the Colts, they may not need to be as efficient. But unless the Jets open up the offense, they will still rely on their skill-position players to make impact plays with the ball in their hands.

The Colts’ secondary and coverage linebackers are certainly there to be exploited. In Week 8, White had tremendous success throwing to the running backs. Seeing that Bobby Okereke allows a passer rating of 110.5 when targeted (including 2 touchdowns) will be music to the Jets’ ears.

Related | How long is Zach Wilson out? Injury timeline, return date, updates on Jets QB

On the outside, Rock Ya-Sin and Xavier Rhodes are both allowing passer ratings above that when targeted. Rhodes is especially struggling, with a completion rate against of 70%, 2 touchdowns allowed, and an average of 11.5 yards allowed per target.

There is a risk-reward element for the Jets against this defense as well. Kenny Moore and Darius Leonard have both given up 3 touchdowns in coverage, but each also has 2 interceptions this season. The Jets should be able to move the ball in this matchup, and their skill-position players should be able to help White out again this week.

Advantage: Jets

Jets offensive line vs. Colts defensive front

This is where the pressure will flick back onto White and the passing game because the Colts’ defensive front should neutralize the impact of the Jets’ running game. The Jets’ offensive line has been one of the worst in terms of run blocking this season. Correspondingly, the offense is averaging a third-worst 3.6 yards per rush attempt.

In contrast, the Colts’ defensive front has been solid against the run, allowing an eighth-best mark of 4.0 yards per attempt. However, the Colts’ pass rush has struggled this year. They rank as the league-worst in pressure rate (16.3%) and hurry rate (4.5%). However, they make it count when they do get pressure, with a league-average sack rate of 6.2%. Even so, White should have the time to stand in the pocket and complete his passes.

Advantage: Push

Indianapolis Colts offense vs. New York Jets defense

The Colts’ offense has been on a roll in recent weeks. After starting the season averaging less than 20 points per game, they have topped that mark in each of their last five. Additionally, they have scored over 30 points in each of their last three games. If the Colts do that again this week, it would be hard to see them losing to a Jets team that has scored just 30 points once this season.

Carson Wentz vs. Jets defense

When trying to make a prediction for this Jets-Colts game, projecting the play of Carson Wentz is one of the toughest elements. Pro Football Network’s Offensive Value Metric highlights this perfectly.

Wentz’s season has been a roller coaster. In Indy’s games between Weeks 4 and 6, Wentz drove the offense and was a big part of why they went 2-1. However, against the Titans last week, he provided below-average value to his offense and was a big factor in why they lost.

[bet-promo id=”160605″ ]

When playing against mediocre defenses, Wentz has at least impressed, and that is what he has this week. The Jets have the seventh-highest completion percentage allowed at 68.2%, and their yards allowed per attempt are among the 10 worst in the league (7.9).

They are also not an opportunistic defense, with just 1 interception this season. However, they do not allow many touchdowns (a 3.8% touchdown rate). It is an interesting mix for Wentz in this game. He should be able to avoid the costly turnovers, but Wentz might struggle to find the end zone against a pass defense that has allowed just 10 touchdowns through seven games this season.

Advantage: Push

Colts skill-position players vs. Jets secondary

This is an intriguing matchup because the Colts’ skill-position players have been incredibly hit and miss this year. Michael Pittman has developed into the leader of the group, but he has lacked consistency. The positive is that T.Y. Hilton was a full participant in practice on Wednesday and could be active for just the second time this year.

The Colts’ passing game has had to lean heavily on their running backs and tight ends. After Pittman and Zach Pascal, the next four most-targeted players are either backs or tight ends. Mo Alie-Cox has been a dangerous red-zone threat, with 4 touchdowns on 25 targets and 13 receptions. He is tied for the lead in receiving touchdowns with Pittman.

Jonathan Taylor has also stepped up in the receiving game this year. The second-year back has turned his 25 targets into 21 receptions for 265 yards and a touchdown. His development into a dual-threat back has added an extra dimension to this offense.

Taylor’s prowess in the receiving game could be a problem if he draws a matchup with C.J. Mosley. Mosley has allowed an 87.5% completion rate on 32 targets this season. On the outside, the Jets have had mixed success. Bryce Hall and Brandin Echols have performed admirably, but both Michael Carter II and Javelin Guidry have had their struggles predominantly covering the slot.

Advantage: Colts

Colts offensive line vs. Jets defensive front

Despite having injury problems on their offensive line, the Colts have performed well for the most part. With a back as talented as Taylor behind them, all this unit needs to do is be an average group and Taylor will make plays. That is exactly what has happened, with the Colts ranking among the top 10 in rush yards per attempt.

However, the Jets’ defensive line has been strong against the run this season. Their 4.0 rush yards allowed per attempt is in the top 10. If they continue to play strong and force the ball out of Taylor’s hands and into Wentz’s, they increase the chances of forcing a mistake from the often-erratic quarterback.

Related | Best offensive lines in the NFL ranked for 2021

The pass-rush battle could be intriguing. The Colts’ offensive line is very much a middle-of-the-pack unit this season in terms of protecting Wentz. However, that is the same for the Jets, whose numbers are slightly above average rushing the passer.

Whichever of these two units can come out on top will be crucial in this matchup. If the Jets’ defensive front can dominate, they can limit the Colts’ time of possession and reduce the need for their QB to make big plays. However, if the Colts’ offensive line can open lanes for Taylor to move the ball consistently, it could pile the pressure on the Jets’ offense to make plays when on the field.

Advantage: Push

Jets at Colts betting line and game prediction

If either team harbors any hopes of making the playoffs, they simply cannot afford to lose this game. The Jets impressed last week, but now they have to prove that it wasn’t just a one-game showing and is actually a sign of an improving roster.

The Colts are coming off a grueling overtime loss that has all but ended their hopes of winning the division. They need to put down a marker here against what is believed to be one of the worst teams in the AFC.

It is somewhat surprising that this game has a double-digit line. Nothing the Colts have done this season suggests they should be 10-point favorites over anyone other than maybe the Houston Texans. When you look at the matchups, the Jets should be more than capable of holding their own, especially after the Colts had to go to overtime last Sunday. The Colts should win this game, but Thursday Night Football has the potential to be very close.

Jets vs. Colts Prediction: Colts 24, Jets 21

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast!

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review!

Related Articles