Tom Brady, Patriots Beat Andrew Luck, Colts 38-24 in Julian Edelman's ReturnOctober 5, 2018
The New England Patriots moved to 3-2 with a 38-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
Tom Brady finished 34-of-44 for 341 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions in what was Julian Edelman's first appearance of the 2018 season after coming off a four-game suspension. Edelman had seven catches for 57 yards.
Andrew Luck threw for 365 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions without No. 1 option T.Y. Hilton, who missed the game due to a hamstring injury.
Julian Edelman Return Sees Tom Brady Back to His Best
Edelman's final numbers aren't all that impressive but don't speak to the full effect of his presence in New England's offense.
Edelman was indirectly involved in much of New England's success because the Colts had to account for his presence when he was on the field. Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett weren't getting the same kind of treatment when they had to compensate for Edelman's absence during his suspension.
Entering Thursday night, the Colts didn't have one of the NFL's top secondaries but ranked 18th in passing yards allowed (268 per game) and 13th in pass defense DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average), per Football Outsiders.
For the most part, Brady had his way with Indianapolis' defense, which isn't a good sign for the rest of the league.
Things got dire for the Patriots earlier this year with regard to their receiver situation. Now, Edelman is back, the unit is healthy and Josh Gordon continues to get more work on the practice field. New England's offense looks unrecognizable from the one that gained just 209 yards against the Detroit Lions in Week 3.
Colts in Trouble Until Ailing Defense Regains Full Strength
Colts fans who live in the Indianapolis area may soon receive a phone call to try out for a roster spot. The defense in particular is a mess after losing even more players to injury Thursday night.
On the first drive of the game, the Patriots went 75 yards in six minutes, two seconds, with Cordarrelle Patterson catching a one-yard touchdown pass. The night was shaping up to be a blowout. Instead, the Colts hung around, despite missing so many of their regular starters.
An Erik Swoope touchdown catch with 12:48 left in the fourth quarter helped cut the deficit to just seven points, 24-17. Then the Patriots scored two quick touchdowns to stave off Indianapolis' comeback attempt.
A fully healthy Luck might have been able to put the team on his back and carry the Colts to victory. But the three-time Pro Bowler is still working his way back from shoulder surgery and isn't back to his best yet.
Indianapolis doesn't have a consistent running game, either, that could take some pressure off Luck and the aerial attack.
Until Luck is back to his old self, the Colts need to lean heavily on their defense, and that isn't ideal when so many players are out injured.
Patriots Build Important Momentum Ahead of Chiefs Matchup
According to OddsShark, the Patriots (+700) are the top betting favorite to win the Super Bowl in the AFC. The Kansas City Chiefs (+800) follow closely behind. The two teams play in Week 6.
Plenty of football fans had already started clearing their calendars for 8:20 p.m. on Oct. 14 before the Patriots reeled off two wins a row. Now that New England is looking like a title contender again, the matchup takes on an added importance.
Midway through the 2018 season, the Patriots can show the AFC title might once again have to go through Foxborough. For the Chiefs, defeating the Pats in Gillette Stadium would prove beyond a shadow of a doubt they're for real.
Kansas City's hot start isn't necessarily built upon a house of cards, but the team is last in total defense (451.8 yards per game) and 25th in scoring defense (28.8 points per game). That doesn't seem sustainable for a Super Bowl hopeful—a problem that could be laid bare against a Patriots offense that's finding its footing.
The Indianapolis Colts stay on the road in Week 6. They play the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Oct. 14. The Patriots' focus shifts to their highly anticipated matchup with the unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs. The winner will position itself as the team to beat in the AFC.