The Indianapolis Colts travel to MetLife Stadium on Sunday to take on the New York Jets. While neither team has run the ball particularly well this season, their defenses have failed to stop the opposition from doing so as well.
The Colts rank 26th, giving up 135.8 yards and the Jets rank 31st while allowing 172.4 yards per game on the ground.
Indianapolis is coming off a gutsy, come-from-behind 30-27 home victory over the Green Bay Packers. Andrew Luck is really starting to settle in at quarterback and wide receiver Reggie Wayne is the major beneficiary, with a 13-catch, 212-yard and one-touchdown performance in last week’s win.
In a division with the Houston Texans as the only real threat, Indianapolis could find a way to finish .500 this season—a huge accomplishment for a team that went all-in this past offseason to rebuild its roster.
A close finish in last week’s 23-17 loss to the Texans could provide the Jets with a spark. But playing the Colts on the eve of traveling to Foxboro next week to take on the New England Patriots might do little to draw the positives out of the moral victory to keep the momentum going.
This contest should be won by the team that can control the clock with a steady ground game.
Here is one bold prediction for each team in Sunday’s matchup:
Vick Ballard Rushed for 125 Yards and 2 Touchdowns
With starting running back Donald Brown out a few weeks after knee surgery, the Colts will rely on rookie Vick Ballard to shoulder the load. Good thing for Ballard is that the Jets are second-worst in the league against the run through five weeks.
While Ballard has done little with his carries so far this season (21 rushed for 42 yards), there is a different mindset when entering the game as the starter as opposed to being the backup.
Last week’s 364-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Packers should give Luck a bit more confidence in the pocket. If he can keep the Jets defense soft on the backside, Ballard will benefit greatly—especially since the Colts don’t really have another option behind him on the depth chart.
Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell Combine for 150 Yards and 2 Touchdowns
The Colts allowed the Packers to run for 149 yards in last week’s win and are allowing 135.8 rushing yards per game so far this season. Though the Jets only average 83 yards on the ground themselves, the winning game plan should be to eat up the clock, mitigate Luck’s ability to gain confidence and not rely on Mark Sanchez in the passing game.
It isn’t a knock on Sanchez as much as the fact that the Jets are void of talented targets. With Santonio Holmes out for the season, New York’s top receiving threats are Jeremy Kerley, Jeff Cumberland, Chaz Shilens and Stephen Hill—not exactly world beaters.
Without many positives to draw from this season, the Jets should resort to a damage-control offensive scheme the rest of the way. The goal should be to limit Sanchez’s exposure and prevent other teams from dictating the game action.
Last week’s result from the Texans’ game is a start. The Jets would do well to keep Luck and the Colts offense off the field on Sunday. Regardless of great success, a healthy dose of Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell will accomplish that goal.