Thursday Night Observations

There was plenty of scoring in this one, but unlike last week’s Rams-Vikings matchup, it still had the feel of a Thursday night game. There were several drops, mostly by the Colts, but Julian Edelman had an egregious one on the second series, and Chris Hogan had one bounce of his hands for a pick. Tom Brady missed some open receivers too, throwing at their feet for no good reason.

• Brady had a big fantasy day with 341 yards on 7.8 YPA, three passing TDs and a rushing score. He’s decisive, great at spreading the ball around and knows where his receivers will be. But he threw low a few times, missed a wide open James White down the field and had all day to throw. The picks weren’t his fault – both deflections – but despite the big yardage and 38 points, I didn’t think he was that sharp. The YPA was modest given how much time he had, that all his receivers were healthy and that the Colts were playing with third-string DBs.

• James White led the team with a 14-10-77-1 line. It could have been bigger too had Brady hit him down the field. He’s essentially an extra receiver (two carries for no yards) while Sony Michel (18-98-1) is the team’s lone back. Michel, who looked solid, but doesn’t seem to have much wiggle, caught his lone target for 12 yards.

• Edelman went 13-7-57, dropped the one deep ball, but otherwise made plays, fought for extra yards and looked like himself. The target total is a good sign. Rob Gronkowski went 7-6-75 and lost a deflected pass that resulted in a pick (though on the broadcast they said it was a fumble.) His volume is what it is, though the TDs will probably be there if he stays healthy.

• Josh Gordon, Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett split the scraps with Gordon making a nice catch in coverage on a Hail Mary-type throw. He’s still yet to be fully integrated into the offense.

• Andrew Luck played a good game on a short week, on the road, without his top receiver. Luck largely had time to throw (only one sack on 59 attempts), but lost yards to drops and threw two picks. He finished with another 365 yards on three TDs, and given the non-existent running game will keep producing so long as he doesn’t get hurt, a bigger risk when you can’t run.

• Nyheim Hines was the primary back, but he had 15 carries for only 45 yards. Jordan Wilkins ran through some bigger holes in the second half, going 6-for-39. Hines also went 9-7-45 as a receiver, making the 5-9, 198-pounder the team’s workhorse for the time being.

• Eric Ebron had a short drop early, but otherwise was a monster, going 15-9-105-2. With Jack Doyle out, he’s arguably a top-five TE. Chester Rodgers (11-8-66) had another high-volume day, but dropped at least one pass. Ryan Grant (9-6-58), same thing. Backup TE Erik Swoope caught one TD and had another called down at the half-yard line, setting up Ebron’s second TD.

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• It wasn’t a great game, but there was some ATS drama when the Colts (getting 10.5 points) cut it to 24-17. The reason the Pats have been such a spread-covering machine over the years is they keep the pedal down so that the last Colts TD didn’t backdoor them. Even up 21, with three minutes left, the Patriots threw on 3rd-and-4 to try for the first down rather than just take another 30 seconds off the clock.