The Colts are already three wins back of the AFC South leading Tennessee Titans, but if they can improve to 4-5 with a win over the Jets, they might fancy their chances of catching the Titans after Derrick Henry’s injury. The Jets lost 36-7 to the Colts last year in a game that saw the Colts defense score two touchdowns and a safety.
Following the retirement of Philip Rivers, the Colts moved quickly to trade two picks for Carson Wentz in March. The move reunited Wentz with his former offensive coordinator; current Colts head coach Frank Reich.
Wentz overcame a preseason injury to be healthy in time for the opener and has been statistically solid over the first eight games. However, he’s let the Colts down in the clutch as they’ve lost one game by three and two in overtime.
He had a 400-yard game against the Ravens a few weeks ago, but otherwise his season high has been 251 yards.
On Sunday, Wentz threw two interceptions including a pick-six having had just one interception in the first seven games.
Sixth round rookie Sam Ehlinger is the backup. He’s yet to make his NFL regular season debut.
The Colts offensive line has been crucial to their running attack and pass protection for the past few years. However, center Ryan Kelly is the only starter to have played in all eight games and their play has suffered slightly. They gave up multiple sacks in each of first six games although they settled down in the last two games, giving up just one in each.
Former sixth overall pick Quenton Nelson is the team’s best lineman at left guard but he’s missed three games and also missed some practice time this week and is listed as questionable.
Eric Fisher, the former first overall pick, joined the team during the offseason after eight seasons with the Chiefs but he has six penalties and has given up four sacks in seven games this year.
The right side of the line has Mark Glowinski at guard and Braden Smith at tackle. Glowinski has had some struggles and Smith only just returned to the lineup after several weeks out.
Sam Tevi was brought in to compete for the swing tackle role but tore his ACL in camp so Julién Davenport took that spot. He ended up starting the first four games of the year but gave up three sacks and hasn’t played since.
Chris Reed has made starts this year at both guard spots and Matt Pryor started three games at right tackle and played pretty well.
Danny Pinter hasn’t played much and rookie Will Fries has yet to see any action off the bench.
Jonathan Taylor leads the running attack as he had 1,169 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground last year and is headed for even bigger numbers in 2021 after having had three 100-yard games in the last five weeks.
Third down back Nyheim Hines caught 63 passes last season but hasn’t been as productive so far this year.
Marlon Mack is the third string back while undrafted rookie Deon Jackson was just elevated from the practice squad.
TY Hilton hasn’t had a thousand-yard season since 2018 but still led the team in receiving last year. However, he’s had a slow start to this season and is ruled out of Thursday night’s game.
With Hilton out, Michael Pittman Jr. has been enjoying a breakout season with 45 catches for almost 600 yards and four touchdowns. Zach Pascal, who caught 44 passes and led the team in yards per catch last year, will be the other starter.
Ashton Dulin has mostly been a special teamer but may be expected to step up with Hilton out.
At tight end, Mo Alie-Cox is emerging as their best option and already has four touchdowns. Jack Doyle caught 80 passes in 2017 but has only averaged 25 per year since then.
Two draft picks, tight end Kylen Granson and wide receiver Mike Strachan, have just six catches between them off the bench.
The Colts’ pass rush got younger during the offseason as they let veterans Denico Autry and Justin Houston go.
To address this, Kwity Paye became the Colts’ first first-round pick since 2018 and he’s now starting at defensive end. While he hasn’t registered a sack yet, he’s been pretty good against the run and has recovered three fumbles.
The other starter, Al-Quadin Muhammad and backup Kemoko Turay have picked up the slack with three sacks each.
Isaac Rochell, Ben Banogu and second round rookie Dayo Odeyingbo provide depth off the bench and someone from this group should get more time because Tyquan Lewis just went on injured reserve.
On the inside, the Colts are led by all-pro DeForest Buckner who is leading the team in sacks, tackles for loss and quarterback hits for the second year in a row. He had 9.5 sacks last year and has four this year.
The 333-pounder Grover Stewart is the other starter on the interior with Antwaun Woods and Taylor Stallworth backing up. Khalil Davis rounds out the rotation.
Bobby Okereke has moved into a full-time role and currently leads the Colts with 67 tackles. However, all-pro Darius Leonard is the key to their defense. He has showcased his playmaking abilities with five pass breakups, two interceptions and three forced fumbles.
Zaire Franklin is the third linebacker but the Colts don’t often have three linebackers on the field. EJ Speed has also seen some action but Matthew Adams and Jordan Glasgow have just been special teams contributors.
The Colts’ defensive backs have some playmaking ability, combining for four pick-sixes last season, including two against the Jets. They’ve yet to score on defense this year though.
Nickelback Kenny Moore embodies this as he had four interceptions and 13 passes defensed last year and has two interceptions already this season. However, he’s been picked on a lot in coverage.
Xavier Rhodes and Rock Ya-Sin are the starters on the outside but Isaiah Rodgers has also played a lot because they’ve each missed a few games. TJ Carrie was also in the rotation but is now on injured reserve.
Anthony Chesley and BoPete Keyes haven’t played much but provide cover on the bench. It’s not clear who would play in the slot if Moore got hurt.
At safety, the Colts lost starter Justin Blackmon for the year after a recent Achilles tear so the starters are now veteran Andrew Sendejo and Khari Willis. However, Willis has been ruled out with a calf injury.
George Odum is the third safety so will probably move into the starting lineup. Josh Jones was just promoted from the practice squad for extra depth.
The Colts brought in the man known as the Money Badger, Michael Badgley, to kick for them when Rodrigo Blankeship got injured and he’s done well so far with no misses in 14 kicks.
Punter Rigoberto Sanchez is in the middle of the pack statistically but did have a 79-yard punt, the second-longest in the NFL this year.
Rodgers is the team’s kick returner, with Dulin backing him up, while Hines returns punts. Rodgers had one touchdown return last year.
The Colts have plenty of special teams talent with Odum - an All-Pro last year - and Dulin leading the way. Dulin has eight special teams tackles and two fumble recoveries including one for a touchdown. The reserve linebackers - Franklin, Speed, Adams and Glasgow - all contribute too.
You can check out the odds for Thursday’s game from our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.