By Abe Gutierrez
After being denied the opportunity to compete in primetime in last week’s Sunday Night Football game against the New England Patriots, the lowly New York Jets take center stage Monday night when they battle the Indianapolis Colts in the final game on the NFL Week 13 docket. MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey will be the site for this AFC East vs. AFC South clash, which has an opening kickoff slated for 8:30 p.m. ET.READ MORE: Rangers Stay Red Hot, Get 4 Points From Panarin In Rout Of Blackhawks
This will be the 73rd meeting between these intraconference foes, as the Colts will be looking to build on a 41-31-0 edge on the Jets in their all-time head-to-head series. However, Gang Green comes in riding a three-game win streak over the horseshoe.
The last time these teams met dates back to Sept. 21, 2015 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. On that eventful day, the Jets improved to 2-0 on the year, coming away with a 20-7 victory over the hosting Colts.
Turnovers were the story, as quarterback Andrew Luck struggled against the Jets defense, going 21-for-37 on pass attempts or 250 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions for a quarterback rating of 52.8. Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 22-of-34 passes for 244 yards, a pair of touchdowns and a pick to earn a QBR of 93.3, while then-Jets running back Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell combined for 95 rushing yards on 26 carries.
Indianapolis Colts record: 5-6-0
In his fifth season as the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, head coach Chuck Pagano has led this team to a 5-6-0 record, which is good enough for third place in the AFC South. This sub-500 mark includes a home record of 3-3 at home, 2-3 on the road and 2-2 against intradivisional opponents. Indy is also 3-5 when facing AFC foes, 2-1 in non-conference games, and is 3-2 in its last five games played.
Colts on offense
In his third year with the Colts, but first full season as the team’s offensive coordinator, Rob Chudzinski runs a unit that ranks 11th in the NFL in passing yards (257), 12th in points per game (24.5), 15th in total yards allowed (352.4), and 25th in rushing yards per contest (95.4). His offensive philosophy is mainly based on being flexible and attacking opposing defenses as much as possible.
It’s no secret that this offense runs through quarterback Andrew Luck and his ability to attack vertically. However, strategy and game-planning could vary on a weekly basis based on the opponents’ weaknesses and favorable matchups. Running back Frank Gore is also another focal point of this offense, as the five-time Pro Bowler comes in ranked 15th in the NFL in rushing with 670 yards on 178 carries and four touchdowns.READ MORE: NYC Hospitality Alliance: Mayor De Blasio 'Grinch' For Vaccine Mandate That May Keep Tourists With Young Children Away
Colts on defense
When looking for a scapegoat for Indy’s sub-par record, most of the blame falls on the shoulders of Colts defensive coordinator Ted Monachino. In his first season as the team’s DC, the former linebackers coach for the Baltimore Ravens is in charge of a defensive squad that’s among the worst in the National Football League.
Entering Week 13 of the 2016 NFL campaign, Monachino’s ‘D’ ranks antepenultimate (30th) in total yards (395) and passing yards per game (278.7). Meanwhile, in the other two categories, the Colts defense is 27th in the league in points (24.7) and 23rd in rushing yards per game (116.3).
Monachino’s scheme is based on multiple fronts, as he believes the best pass defense is to pressure opposing quarterbacks with a suffocating pass rush. The three leading tackles in this unit are inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson (74 tackles: 50 total, 24 assist), free safety Clayton Geathers (59 tackles: 50 total, 9 assist) and strong safety Mike Adams (51 tackles: 40 total, 11 assist).
Colts players to watch: Andrew Luck, Erik Walden
After missing last week’s (7-28) Thanksgiving Day loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, versatile quarterback Andrew Luck returns to action and is the player to watch on the offensive side of the pigskin. In 10 starts, the former first overall pick has completed 63 percent of his pass attempts, going 236-for-375 for 2827 yards, 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions for a respectable quarterback rating of 93.9. Luck also has the ability to exit the pocket and pick up rushing yards (246 yards, 1 TD), which is something the Jets defense must be weary of.
On the opposite side of the rock, the Fins must account for outside linebacker Erik Walden at all times. In his ninth season out of Middle Tennessee State, the Super Bowl (XLV) champ leads the team in sacks (eight), to go along with his 27 tackles (22 total, five assist) and two forced fumbles.
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Opening NFL Week 13 betting odds give the visiting Indianapolis Colts a slight edge over the hosting New York Jets. The latest point spread for this Monday night showdown has Luck and the Colts listed as one-point favorites over Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets, which could put the Jets in jeopardy of suffering their ninth loss of the season and extend their ongoing skid to four games.