Monday Night Football
Indianapolis Colts (5-6) at New York Jets (3-8)
KICKOFF: Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET, MetLife Stadium. TV: ESPN, Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters.
SERIES HISTORY: 69th regular-season meeting. Colts lead the series, 40-28. The Jets have won the last three regular-season games, including the most recent game Sept. 21, 2015, when QB Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for a pair of touchdowns and the Jets forced five turnovers in a 20-7 win at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Jets are 3-1 in four playoff games against the Colts and earned the biggest win in franchise history on Jan. 12, 1969. QB Joe Namath guaranteed the AFL champion Jets would beat the NFL champion Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III and then directed a 16-7 upset victory that remains one of the defining moments in pro football history.
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Colts hope to have QB Andrew Luck is back after he sat out against the Steelers with a concussion. The 5-6 Colts are still hanging around in the AFC South, just behind division leaders Houston (6-5) and Tennessee (6-6).
Indianapolis already swept the two-game home-and-home series with the Titans but lost to the Texans 26-23 in overtime after letting a double-digit lead slip away in the fourth quarter. The Texans visit Lucas Oil Stadium next week for the rematch.
First up, however, is a trip to MetLife Stadium to face a 3-8 Jets squad that came up short in a 22-17 home loss to AFC East leader New England last week.
The Jets unveiled a safe approach last week for QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who relied mostly on dumpoffs and short passes in the narrow loss to the Patriots. Expect more of the same this week and plenty of RB Matt Forte and RB Bilal Powell against a Colts defense that ranks among the worst in the NFL against the run. Forte and Powell had just 25 touches against the Patriots but should push for 40 on Monday night.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
–Jets C Nick Mangold or Wesley Johnson vs. Colts NT David Parry. The New England Patriots shut down RB Matt Forte last week, but the Colts — who are surrendering 4.6 yards per rush, tied for the third-highest figure in the league — should be a far easier task for Forte. Johnson has played well in place of Mangold, who has a chance to return this week after missing four games due to an ankle injury. Johnson or Mangold creating holes against Parry will give the Jets their best chance at winning the time of possession and keeping the ball out of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick’s hands.
–Colts WR T.Y. Hilton vs. Jets CB Darryl Roberts and FS Marcus Gilchrist. The Jets long ago gave up on using one-time great CB Darrelle Revis on the opposition’s best receiver. Roberts and SS Calvin Pryor have fared well against Los Angeles Rams WR Kenny Britt and Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski over the last two weeks; but, with Pryor in the concussion protocol, expect the emerging Roberts to handle Hilton, with Gilchrist providing safety help.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Jets WR Quincy Enunwa. Just when it looked as if Enunwa was settling in as a jack-of-all-trades-but-master-of-none, he had the best game of his career against the Patriots, whom he victimized for four gains of more than 20 yards on his way to racking up a career-high 109 receiving yards. Can he keep it up? If so, the Jets may have their future No. 1 receiver.
FAST FACTS: Colts QB Andrew Luck has 1,106 yards passing and eight TDs in the last four games he has played. … Colts RB Frank Gore is one of only five players in NFL history with at least 12,500 yards rushing and 400 receptions (405). … Colts WR T.Y. Hilton ranks second in the NFL with 20 catches of at least 20 yards and is fifth with 942 yards receiving. The Colts’ Erik Walden is one of only five NFL linebackers with at least eight sacks (8) and two forced fumbles (2). … Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick passed for 269 yards and two TDs last week. … Jets RB Matt Forte has collected 508 yards from scrimmage and five TDs in the last five games. … Jets WR Brandon Marshall has 37 catches for 420 yards and four TDs in the last three games vs. the Colts. … Jets DT Leonard Williams has 5.5 sacks and five tackles for loss in the last seven home games.
PREDICTION: The Colts have incentive as they try to keep their playoff hopes alive.