The New England Patriots defeated the Indianapolis Colts 26-3 in Foxborough in the Week 9 AFC showdown. The Patriots dominated the Colts defensively throughout the entirety of the game, and New England’s outside linebacker Matthew Judon gave a Defensive Player of the Year-level performance. Let’s break down the three takeaways from the Patriots’ victory over the Colts.
Mathew Judon: The Next NFL Defensive Player Of The Year?
As we reach the halfway point in the NFL regular season, Matthew Judon is leading one of the league’s best defenses and is making his case for the Defensive Player of the Year award. According to Sports Illustrated’s Richie Whitt, Judon leads the NFL in sacks with 11.5 thus far.
Whitt adds if Judon were to continue at his current pace, he will “flirt” with breaking the regular season record of 22.5, set by New York Giants legend Michael Strahan in 2001 and Pittsburg Steelers’ TJ Watt in 2021. Judon would end the season with 22 sacks if he were to continue at this rate, which prompts the argument to be made: Should Matthew Judon be considered the NFL Defensive Player of the Year?
Matthew Judon’s showing against the Colts proved to lead New England’s elite defense against a weak Indianapolis offense. Already entering the game without star running back Jonathan Taylor, the Patriots were expected to handle the Colts’ offense with ease. Judon made sure that was the case and delivered an NFL Defensive Player of the Year caliber performance.
The outside linebacker had six total tackles, four of which were solo and two that were assisted. Judon also tallied three sacks and proved to be a constant nuisance for the Colts’ offensive line and quarterback Sam Ehlinger. Going into the bye week, Judon will be hoping to come out rested and fully charged against the Jets at home in Week 11 and continue making his case to be named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Mac Jones With Another Solid Performance
Throughout much of the regular season, the main topic of discussion surrounding the Patriots was who should be New England’s starting QB: Mac Jones or Bailey Zappe? However, after starting in back-to-back victories against the Jets and the Colts, it appears Mac Jones has reclaimed his role as the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots.
Jones completed 20 of his 30 passing attempts (66.7% completion rate) for 147 yards and threw a three-yard touchdown pass to running back Rhamondre Stevenson. The second-year QB out of Alabama posted his season-best QB rating of 89.2, and after last week’s rating of 79.9, it looks like Jones is starting to find his consistency once again.
A common critique of Jones’ performances throughout the season thus far has been his pass selection, but against the Colts his ball security and composure were vital to limiting New England’s turnovers against a strong Indianapolis defense.
New England’s Offensive Line Troubles
Though the Patriots put up 26 points against the Colts, it was by no means an easy game offensively for New England. Throughout much of the first quarter, the team that was on offense was forced into three-and-outs over and over again. The Patriots in particular had a difficult time dealing with the Colts’ defensive pressure and the weak performance of New England’s offensive line did not help in the slightest.
According to The Boston Globe’s Christopher Price, QB Mac Jones was sacked four times and was constantly under pressure when he dropped back in the pocket to pass. Veteran center David Andrews has missed the last two weeks due to suffering a concussion against the Bears in Week 7. Once Andrews returns, New England will hope that their offensive line struggles will be mitigated.
Entering The Bye Week Victorious
The Patriots enter their Bye Week with a 5-4 record, sitting above .500 for the first time this season. Though they still remain at the bottom of the AFC East, New England will hope to move up in the standings in their Week 11 matchup against the Jets at home.
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