New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts (-7, 46.5 o/u)
What a difference a week makes.
That’s what the Indianapolis Colts (0-1, 0-0 home) are hoping the headlines of the local sports sections read come Tuesday morning. The Colts, pegged as preseason Super Bowl contenders in the AFC, were embarrassed in Week 1, getting shutout 17-0 at halftime by the Bills and eventually falling 27-14. Indy returns home in Week 2 to face a team riding a Week 1-high, the New York Jets (1-0, 0-0 road), at Lucas Oil Stadium on Monday Night Football (8:30 PM Eastern).
The Jets started the Todd Bowles-era in impressive fashion, dominating Cleveland, 31-10. The defense (321 yards against, three sacks, and five takeaways) and the run game (154 yards on 36 attempts) both looked great. Of course, the caveat is that they were facing a Browns team that was forced to go with Johnny Manziel at QB for the majority of the game after starter Josh McCown suffered a concussion early in the first quarter.
Nonetheless, the Jets did what they needed to do, riding Chris Ivory’s two rushing TDs to 17 unanswered second half points.
Ryan Fitzpatrick wasn’t asked to do a lot in the passing game, but he was adequate when his number was called, completing 15 of 24 passes for 179 yards, two touchdowns, and one pick.
Things could not have been more different for the Colts up in Orchard Park. Supposed to feature the league’s best offense, Indy could scarcely manage a first down in the opening frame against Buffalo. Meanwhile, the defense struggled to contain first-year starting QB Tyrod Taylor, either in the pass game or run game. Andrew Luck and company looked a little better in the second half, eventually finding the end zone twice, but the game was already out of reach.
The Indy O-line will have to be better come Monday night if the team expects a different result. They gave up two sacks and only mustered 68 yards on the ground. The Jets’ front seven isn’t quite on par with the Bills’, but they are still one of the top units in the league and will present similar challenges for the Colts.
Luck can take some comfort in the fact that New York CB Antonio Cromartie will miss this week’s game after injuring his knee against the Browns. But the Jet secondary will still be solid, led by a seemingly ageless Darrelle Revis. Buster Skrine figures to get most of Cromartie’s assignments.
Despite their disparate Week 1 performances, sportsbooks evidently aren’t buying into the Jets just yet, nor writing off the Colts. Indy sits as a touchdown favorite at the moment. The Colts should play a lot better, especially considering that this is their home opener, but this is another bad matchup for them. The Jets are built a lot like Buffalo with a solid defense – guided by a great defensive coach – and a strong run game. Indy might get the win, but expect the Jets to keep it close.
Pick: Jets (+7).
(Photo credit: Mark Susina (Mark 2400) (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mss2400/7967230578/) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)