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NFL Thursday Night; Colts at Patriots

Julian Edelman is back just in time to give a sluggish New England offense a much-needed boost. Also, Frank Reich was right; ties are the worst. (Photo by Nancy Lane)

I saw a weird stat somewhere over the last few days about Thursday night being the first time Tom Brady will have Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman on the field together since sometime in 2016. With Gronk fading a bit this season (it’s true), Edelman’s return can’t come at a better time for Brady.

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the correlation between this Patriots season and last. How New England was 2-2 through four weeks last season, too. The stats tell a slightly different story. The 2018 New England offense hasn’t been impressive, like, at all. Brady has yet to post 300 passing yards in a game (his high is 277) and the offense is over 100 yards per game behind last year’s offense through one quarter of the season. In 2017, the Patriots were averaging 32 points per game after four games. They’ve scored more than 27 only once thus far and are averaging less than 24.

Of course, there are certain explanations for New England’s slow start on offense. Brady did lose his top two receivers from 2017 (Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola). Two of his top four receivers this season weren’t even on the roster last season. One of those two is a special teams player and the other arrived two weeks ago. The offense also lost its most versatile running back. Like I said, the explanations are certainly there for the slow start. Edelman should add a much needed punch to the offense, especially as Brady’s security blanket in tense situations. It also remains to be seen if Josh Gordon will be another failed reclamation in New England or an actual contributor. These factors will play into how far the Patriots can go this season, and maybe even how successful they’ll be Thursday night. The Colts are better than people think.

Indianapolis’ record isn’t indicative of their play. A late turnover while driving for the winning score sunk the Colts in Week 1 against an impressive Bengals team. In Week 2 they outplayed the Redskins, especially in the red zone, and won by 12. In Week 3, the Colts had the Eagles on the ropes but couldn’t convert on 4th and 3 from the Eagles 4.

Week 4 may have been Indianapolis’ worst performance of the young season. If you looked at the score (34-37), you’d think it was an exciting game, kind of like the Bengals/Falcons game from Week 4. Well, you’d be wrong. That game was a flat out disaster. Colt receivers must have dropped 6 or 7 passes. Andrew Luck fumbled twice inside his own 10, and still, the Colts should have at least tied if new coach Frank Reich hadn’t lost his mind. Or did he?

It took four days, but I’m not totally against what Reich did** at the end of Sunday’s loss to Houston. Here’s why… The Colts aren’t making the playoffs. Ties don’t mean anything when you finish the season with 6 or 7 wins except lower draft picks. Reich would’ve gladly taken the win, but he’s no dummy. A tie doesn’t mean much. A loss is better than a tie, especially come April 2019. PATRIOTS If I were Charles Barkley; Colts +11

(**If you don’t know, the Colts could’ve punted from their own 43 on 4th and 3 with about 27 seconds to go in overtime and forced a tie. Instead, they went for it, failed, and the Texans kicked a field goal after one play.)

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