Game Overview ::
- The matchup and expected game environment should tilt the Colts toward being more balanced than they have been so far (one game pass-heavy; one game run-heavy)
- The Jets are treating their losses like wins :: trying to “ice away the game” even when they fall far behind; this doesn’t bode well for shootout potential
- The Colts are likely to play with a lead, and the Jets are likely to drag down the momentum of this game like a lead weight
- Jonathan Taylor is viable once again, while Mo Alie-Cox and T.Y. Hilton each have a few elements pointing their direction
How Indianapolis will try to win ::
After finishing top two in adjusted line yards on defense a year ago, the Jets already rank top two for 2020 as well. In Week 2, they gave up an 80-yard touchdown to Raheem Mostert and a 55-yard run to Jerick McKinnon on a beautiful cutback on 3rd and 31 (they also gave up a long touchdown run to Mostert that was called back due to holding), but outside of these plays, they allowed 27 yards on 23 carries to Mostert, Tevin Coleman, and Jeff Wilson (while allowing McKinnon to go 2-22 on his other two runs). Meanwhile, the Jets have allowed quarterbacks so far to go 55 of 73 (75.3%) for 514 yards, four touchdowns, and zero interceptions.
This creates an interesting setup. We know that Frank Reich is adaptable. We know that after going pass-heavy in 2018 with Andrew Luck, he went run-heavy in 2019 with Jacoby Brissett. And we know that after going pass-heavy in Week 1 against the Jags, he went run-heavy last week against the Vikings. The Colts have the best offensive line in football, but the 49ers’ line is strong in its own right, and it was getting visibly blown up by the Jets last week — pointing to the pass game as the path of least resistance. Put it all together, and we should see Indy throwing the ball more this week than they did in last week’s blowout win (25 attempts for Philip Rivers in that one, with 35 rush attempts between Jonathan Taylor (26) and Jordan Wilkins (nine)) — though the likelihood of the Colts controlling this game could still put a dent in pass game volume on the whole.
How the Jets will try to win ::
The Jets are getting enough of a push with their offensive line, and Adam Gase is in love enough with the run, that the Jets will try to win on the ground pretty much regardless of what is happening in this game. (Down 21-3 coming out of the half last week, starting with the ball inside his own 20, Gase and the Jets went run // run // pass that traveled one yard downfield on 3rd and 3. Down 24-6 (three scores) with 00.27 on the clock at the end of the third quarter, the Jets called a run and then let the clock go to the end of the quarter. Down 31-6 with 10.15 left in the game (down four scores — in a position where it was mathematically impossible for them to win unless they were throwing downfield), Gase opened the Jets drive with a run.) If the Jets force some turnovers and take a lead, they’ll try to kill off this game. If the Jets fall behind, they’ll try to kill off this game. (Remember when Adam Gase coached under John Fox? What a pairing that was!)
The maddening thing about Gase is that if he can keep games close, he can figure out a way to win games he shouldn’t. But this Jets team can’t keep games close; and when they fall behind, they show no urgency — continuing to act as though they are killing off the clock the way they would with a lead. As we said in this space last week: If you know how the Jets should try to win this game, Gase would love to hear from you.
Likeliest Game Flow ::
Either through a long run from Taylor, a couple sustained drives, or a big play to Mo Alie-Cox or T.Y. Hilton, the Colts are likely to take the lead, and once they have the lead, they are likely to hold on. The Jets, meanwhile, will drag down the momentum of this game like a lead weight — allowing the Colts to remain balanced, while eventually slowing down a bit on their end as both teams aim to ice away this game (the Colts with a lead; the Jets with a loss). Ultimately, the Colts should dominate here. If they don’t, it will likely be because of mistakes that keep this game lower-scoring, rather than from the Jets suddenly clicking and putting up big plays.
DFS+ Interpretation ::
On the Colts’ first play last week, they threw a swing pass to Jonathan Taylor. On the 15th play of that drive, they threw a pass to him on 3rd and 10. The matchup isn’t great for Taylor, but it was evident last week — when he played 67.1% of snaps — that the Colts are going to involve him in this offense regardless of what they are doing. The matchup isn’t great against the Jets, but the game environment works in Taylor’s favor, making him a viable tourney play for upside if you want to go there. (As a bonus: the Jets allowed the sixth most receiving yards to running backs last season.) Taylor seems destined to see 20+ touches regardless of matchup, so while the matchup is rough, his floor is relatively solid, and there is definitely upside.
Through the air for Indy, volume is somewhat capped on all players, as it would take the Jets keeping pace in order for volume to truly spike; but with Parris Campbell out and the Colts likely to throw more than 25 times, Hilton and Mo Alie-Cox are interesting targets in a game in which per-play efficiency should be elevated. Eight or more targets for Hilton and six or more targets for MAC are fair median projections. MAC’s role was awesomely downfield-focused last week (of his six targets, four came 15+ yards downfield, and three of those came 20+ yards downfield), while Hilton ranks seventh in the NFL in percentage share of team air yards and is a major regression candidate after catching only 50% of passes thrown his way so far (last week: three of his five targets came 15+ yards downfield — with two of them coming 30+ yards). Even if the Colts “don’t throw the ball,” Hilton lines up well for six or seven looks against a very beatable secondary.
Behind these core pieces for the Colts, Michael Pittman (six targets last week) and Zach Pascal (four targets last week) will soak up a bit of work. You need a role change for Pittman (who worked the short areas last week) or some luck from Pascal to help you win a tourney, but each guy will be on the field plenty in a good matchup if you want to chase.
On the other side of the ball: the Colts — as we know — filter targets away from wide receivers and toward the middle of the field. This is not a talent-rich defense outside of the linebackers; but even at that, they have the talent edge over a Jets team that entered the season with one of the lowest-talent offenses in the NFL and is now likely to be missing all of Le’Veon Bell, Jamison Crowder and Breshad Perriman this week. If chasing here for low-cost upside, Chris Herndon is the only player who stands out (Herndon has legitimate upside; the matchup tilts his direction; and on DraftKings in particular, it’s hard to get 4x from tight end no matter which price range you land in; so giving yourself exposure to a high-usage cheap guy can open paths to an edge if the guy hits, while keeping you relatively protected even if he doesn’t), but if you want to get wild here, you could bet on volume being enough to create upside for Chris Hogan or Braxton Berrios. Or, you could just trust that Gase is trying to hurt your rosters, and you could leave the rest of the Jets alone.
- Frank Reich faced Gregg Williams once (Chargers OC), winning 27-24
- Rivers vs Gregg Williams defense: W 38-24, W 19-10, W 27-24
- Josh Allen crushed this Jets defense (312 pass yds, 57 rush yds, 3 TD) and Garoppolo was 14/16 for 131 yds, 2 TD before exiting early
- Rivers threw 41 times in Week 1 and just 25 times in Week 2
- Rivers Week 2 targets with Campbell going down: Cox (6), Pittman (6), Hilton (5), Pascal (4), Taylor (2)
- Hilton had another costly drop, this time on a potential deep TD, so his 3 rec 28 yd outing would’ve looked much different
- Diggs & Brown scored 16.6 & 19.0 DK pts vs NYJ and it could’ve been more without Allen missing Brown wide open in endzone
- Williams defenses have struggled to contain TEs, and in Week 2 allowed 7 rec for 50 yds, 2 TD to Jordan Reed
- In his start in place of Doyle, Mo Alie-Cox finished with 5 rec for 111 yds
- Of Mostert & McKinnon’s 169 rush yds vs NYJ, 135 of them came on 2 rushes
- The NYJ run defense is much stronger up the gut than to the edges
- Of Jonathan Taylor’s 26 rush att in Week 2, 19 of them were by the tackles or out wide
- Sam Darnold hasn’t even scored 20 DK pts since Week 12 of last season
- Darnold is currently working with a skill group of Herndon, Perriman, Berrios, & Hogan, and the best player of that group, Herndon, spent Week 2 blocking on 36.4% of passing snaps (#1 of TEs) and only playing 74% of the total snaps
- The MIN offense couldn’t do much of anything vs IND with such a mismatch in the trenches, and the NYJ offensive line is in a similar state of despair outside of their lone bright spot (rookie LT Becton)
- The IND defense is designed to limit big plays, which is essentially the only skill Breshad Perriman has displayed in the NFL to this point
- Hogan & Berrios led the way with 8 targets each in the absence of Crowder, with a garbage time 30 yd touchdown saving Berrios from finishing with just 5 rec 29 yds