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During the season, Bent's Game Analysis charts games for some of the New York Jets' upcoming opponents, enabling a breakdown of what to watch out for on game day…
This week's Monday Night Football will see the Jets hosting the 5-6 Indianapolis Colts. Despite having endured a disappointing year so far, the Colts were just one game out of first place in the AFC South entering this weekend. The Colts have lost three of their last four games, albeit to three potential playoff teams in Green Bay, Kansas City and Pittsburgh. The teams met early last year with the Jets defeating the Colts 20-7, again on Monday Night Football, in one of the best performances of the Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan era.
Let's break down the positional groupings (BGA-style) for the Colts to try and highlight what to watch out for.
While it might seem like Andrew Luck's inevitable ascension to ultimately becoming the league's best quarterback has never materialized, he is perhaps still progressing toward that goal. Although they've had some disappointing results in 2016, he has bounced back nicely from an injury-prone 2015 campaign. Including his postseason numbers, Luck is actually posting career-best numbers for quarterback rating, completion percentage and touchdown-to-interception ratio.
While the Jets have struggled against quarterbacks who tend to get the ball out quickly, that isn't how Luck plays; he spends more time in the pocket than most of the quarterbacks the Jets will face this year. However, he's a dangerous runner with 246 rushing yards on the season.
There was some doubt over whether Luck would be able to play on Monday night as he missed a few practices this week while passing through the concussion protocol. He should be good to go, but former Packer Scott Tolzien will be waiting in the wings. Tolzien started the last game against the Steelers, a 28-7 loss.
The Colts have an interesting group on the offensive line, led by Anthony Costanzo, who has developed into a very solid left tackle since being drafted in the first round five years ago. The Colts smartly dipped back into the first round lineman pool this year to select center Ryan Kelly, who is already showing signs of being a steadying influence on a group that has seen many changes over the past few seasons.
The Colts are strong on the left side of the line with Jack Mewhort providing excellent run blocking in between Kelly and Costanzo at left guard. Mewhort was arguably the Colts' best lineman in 2015 and got off to a great start this year. However, since his recent return from a month out with a triceps injury, he has looked like he might not be back to 100 percent yet.
The Colts are not quite as solid on the right side, where the inexperienced pair of Denzelle Good and Joe Haeg are listed as the starters. Good was a seventh-round pick last year and Haeg is a fifth-round rookie. They've given up 13 sacks between them and Good has also struggled in the running game.
Reserves Joe Reitz and Jonotthan Harrison have both seen extended work at guard and tackle respectively due to injuries. Haeg moving inside to guard is another option they've employed at times. Good is listed as questionable with a shoulder injury and Kelly didn't finish the Steelers game either, although he practiced fully all week.
Veteran Frank Gore, who has 670 rushing yards and four touchdowns, leads the Colts' running game, though he averages fewer than four yards per carry. Gore is consistent, but not as productive as he used to be. He had a 100-yard rushing game against the Titans in October, but that was his only one since leaving the 49ers after the 2014 season. The Jets held Gore to 57 yards last year.
The other Colts backs don't feature much in the running game, but veteran backup Robert Turbin and rookie Josh Ferguson have caught 36 passes between them. Gore has 29 receptions himself. Dump-offs and check-downs are a big part of the Colts offense, so the Jets will have to ensure they do a good job of tackling in space.
T.Y. Hilton has developed into a leader for the Colts this year and is putting up big numbers with 60 catches for 942 yards already. He has been dealing with a back injury, but was a full go at the last two practices.
Hilton, now in his fifth year, is mentoring the other three receivers on the Colts roster -- Donte Moncrief, the speedy Phillip Dorsett and undrafted rookie Chester Rogers.
Moncrief is tied with Hilton on five touchdown receptions and Dorsett has shown a knack for making big plays with a 16.5 yards per catch average, but both have had key dropped passes in recent games. Rogers made some good contributions early, but hasn't had a reception since Week 7.
The tight ends are a big feature of the Colts offense with Jack Doyle's role increasing since Coby Fleener joined the Saints. Doyle entered the year with 42 career catches in three seasons, but already has 39 this year. The Colts run a lot of two tight end sets with the dependable (but unspectacular) Dwayne Allen and even some three tight end personnel packages with Erik Swoope.
The Colts looked to be building a promising defensive line last season, despite Arthur Jones -- their highest-paid lineman -- missing the entire year with an ankle injury.
Youngster Zach Kerr, a 2014 undrafted free agent, provided unexpected production alongside veteran Kendall Langford and rookie Henry Anderson. All three returned this year along with Jones and David Parry, whom they hoped would build upon an inconsistent rookie campaign. They also drafted 307-pounder Hassan Ridgeway in the fourth round.
Things haven't worked out too well. Langford is now on injured reserve after a rough start to the season. Kerr and Anderson haven't performed as well as they did last season and Parry is still struggling. Jones hasn't had the same impact he did in his first year with the Colts back in 2014 either. Ridgeway, who is questionable with a back injury, has been contributing and is listed as a starter, but the Colts are often in a 2-4-5 nickel within which Parry and Jones are the current starters anyway. That personnel package will often see two of the outside linebackers moving to defensive end.
The Colts will be without the injured Robert Mathis, but they are able to replace him with veteran pass rusher Trent Cole, who was just activated from injured reserve. In any case, the Colts' biggest pass rushing threat this year has been Erik Walden. The ninth-year veteran has already surpassed his career high with eight sacks. Prior to this season, he'd only exceeded three sacks in a season once.
The Colts have struggled to find a suitable partner for the versatile 33-year old D'Qwell Jackson on the inside, but over the last few games it's been Edwin Jackson. The younger Jackson, who did not play as an undrafted rookie last year and lacks experience against top-level competition, has started three of the last four games.
Veteran Akeem Ayers is the primary backup on the outside, while special teamer Josh McNary would usually be the first guy off the bench to play on the inside. They've also been trying to gradually work rookie Antonio Morrison into the rotation.
Veterans Vontae Davis and Darius Butler, each of whom has faced the Jets many times in their careers, are likely to be the starters. Expect backup Rashaan Melvin to see plenty of work too, as he's their biggest corner at 6-foot-2. Butler, who leads the team with two interceptions, will probably see most of the reps in the slot.
The Colts were dealing with an injury crisis at cornerback earlier in the season, but matters had improved for them of late. However, Patrick Robinson suffered a groin injury, so they are down one starter for this game.
At safety, Clayton Geathers is out with a head/neck injury, so veteran Mike Adams will be paired with rangy rookie T.J. Green, a second-round pick who has seen action as the third safety but has struggled in coverage. The Colts rely on their safeties to contribute in run support as Adams and Geathers have combined for 110 tackles.
Former Jet Darryl Morris and two undrafted rookies that have played just 16 snaps between them comprise the available secondary depth off the bench.
The Colts' kicking game is one of the best in the league with Pat McAfee averaging over 50 yards gross per punt and Adam Vinatieri still one of the best kickers around. However, Vinatieri has missed two of his last three field goal attempts after a streak of 44 consecutive successes. McAfee, who also handles kickoffs, is a dangerous athlete that the Jets need to be wary of on fakes. He completed a 35-yard pass against the Steelers on a fake punt last week.
Nine different players have returned a punt or kickoff for the Colts this year, but they currently list Rogers as their top punt returner and back-up running back Jordan Todman as their primary kick-off returner. Todman had a 99-yard touchdown return earlier in the year.
In kick coverage, linebackers McNary, Jackson and Morrison have made all good contributions so far this year.
I'll be back on Monday to recap the game.
Pro Football Focus provided stats for this article.