Thursday Night Football Picks: New York Jets vs. Indianapolis Colts Predictions
- Key Stat: In Week 8, both the Jets and Colts set season highs in pass attempts and Pass Rate Over Expected (PROE)
New York Jets vs. Indianapolis Colts Prediction
Thursday Night Football brings us a matchup of two teams who played things very differently in Week 7 than they had previously. For the Jets, who upset Cincinnati, that meant going with a heavy pass lean that featured a season-low average throw depth — they essentially became the type of offense you’d associate with Drew Brees’ Saints teams, where the short passing game is an extension of the run. Mike White had a big day as a passer, but the Jets’ 3.5-yard average throw depth was way down. Prior to Week 7, in games Zach Wilson played the majority of, the Jets’ season-low passing aDOT was 7.7; in Week 7, with both Wilson and White playing a chunk, they combined for a season-low 6.2; in Week 8, it was way down from even that figure.
On the flip side, the Jets threw a season-high 49 times, seven more than their previous high, and ran a season-high 78 plays, as well. Their Pass Rate Over Expected (PROE) was +13.4%, 7.1 percentage points over their previous season high and one of the highest figures for any team this season. Hilariously, despite the season-high in pass attempts, the passes were so short that they had a season-low in total air yards — the combined depth of all those throws was only 171 yards downfield, a full 89 below their previous season low.
As a result of that, running back Michael Carter led the team with 14 targets, nine receptions, and 95 receiving yards. Secondary back Ty Johnson added five catches on six targets for 71 more yards and a touchdown. And slot receiver and low-aDOT weapon Jamison Crowder saw another nine targets, with eight catches and 84 yards. Defensively, the Colts are top 10 in success rate against the run, while they rank 31st in success rate against the pass, so this short passing game replacing rush attempts looks like a good bet to stick. Corey Davis is also doubtful and will likely miss again; if you’re looking at the prop market in this game, the Jets’ underneath receiving targets are a great place to start.
The Colts were somewhat similar, though there’s not as clean of an explanation as the quarterback change the Jets had to explain it. Indianapolis had a season-high +5.5% PROE and attempted a season-high 51 passes, but they were pushing the ball downfield more, also setting a season high in air yards with a whopping 483, which was 189 more than their previous season high. Carson Wentz still somehow averaged only 4.5 yards per attempt, an egregiously low number given how vertically he was pushing the ball.
Of these two massive shifts, Wentz’s pass volume in Week 8 is the one I’m far less confident will stick, primarily because they lost, and they lost in large part due to an interception from Wentz in overtime after an earlier bone-headed pick-six. Jonathan Taylor meanwhile was electric, and the Colts getting him just 19 touches in favor of those 51 passes was very obviously a poor choice. Taylor was just as efficient on a per-carry basis (4.4) and Wentz was on a per-attempt basis — which should never be the case — and Taylor was also easily the Colts’ most efficient receiver in terms of yards per reception or per target.
The Jets don’t have the type of defensive tendencies the Colts do, ranking 15th in success rate against both the run and the pass. My expectation — or maybe hope — is the Colts feature Taylor more. That would probably be good for the Colts’ offense overall, even as I’m a huge proponent of most teams being more pass-first offensively.
But it might slow the game down a bit. Even with that potential, though, I think the value here is on the over. The Jets’ offensive shift seems real, at least as long as White is under center, and both of their past two games have combined for at least 65 points. If they are going to throw often, that should help their potential to score, but it should also raise the overall play volume and scoring potential in the game.
Thursday Night Football: Jets vs. Colts Picks
Pick: Over 46.5 @ +100
Week 9 NFL Expert Picks
The 2021 NFL season reaches its halfway point this week as Week 9 gets underway. This week's Thursday Night Football matchup features a New York Jets team coming off a win, which is a rare occurrence, and a Colts team that suffered a heartbreaking loss to division rival Tennessee last Sunday. Week 9 in the NFL features the battle for Ohio as the Bengals and Browns meet, as well as intriguing matchups between the Chiefs and Packers, as well as the Titans and Rams, among others. Luckily for you, we have NFL expert picks coming your way for every single game on the schedule.
Our impressive stable of handicappers, featuring Ben Gretch, Mike Spector, John Hyslop, Derrik Klassen, Jason Radowitz and much, much more are on hand to give you the best picks.