Patriots overseas trying to seize season, crash Colts in Germany
Posted on: 10 Nov, 2023 at 07:43 PM
Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Not to be confused with Brady vs. Manning, NFL fans in Germany will be treated to another matchup of popular NFL teams when the sub-.500 New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts play Sunday in Frankfurt.
After the NFL came to Germany for the first time last season, Frankfurt received a turn with games in consecutive weeks. Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Miami Dolphins 21-14 there last week.
The Patriots (2-7), the designated home team, have international marketing rights in Germany and are a fan favorite there because of their German-born former offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer -- not to mention their six Super Bowl victories from 2001 to 2018.
"It's a unique opportunity," said coach Bill Belichick, whose Patriots teams are 3-0 in international games all-time. "When it gets there, we'll look forward to it."
Owners of the worst record in the AFC, the Patriots are not at all playing like the dynasty of the past two decades, and while it may have been unthinkable a few years ago, the proverbial seat is getting hotter for Belichick as New England continues to lose.
A 20-17 defeat to the Washington Commanders was the Patriots' fifth loss in six weeks. They'll have their bye week upon returning from Germany.
Mac Jones steadied to some degree after a dismal early October. He threw for 220 yards and one touchdown against Washington and didn't take a sack, but he was intercepted on the last drive of the game as the Patriots scored just three points after halftime.
"Just being consistent and trying to work together," Jones said of the offense's struggles. "We have some young guys playing, and just making sure we're all on the same page and out there executing each week. Like I say, each week's different and it's important to understand what we need to do this week."
This week's task involves getting past an opportunistic defense. Kenny Moore of the Colts (4-5) scored two pick-6s in a 27-13 win over the Carolina Panthers last week. That ended a three-game losing streak that saw the Colts allow 37, 39 and 38 points.
Jones is tied for the league lead with nine interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns.
As for the Colts' offense, Gardner Minshew has been under center since rookie Anthony Richardson's season-ending shoulder injury. But the Colts are a run-first team, and while Jonathan Taylor is the household name, Zack Moss ranks second in the NFL with 615 rushing yards this season.
"We know this stretch, this back-half stretch, is where teams have to bolster up," Taylor said. "You're either gonna go up or you're gonna go down, so (the game will) do a lot in order to make sure that we can continue to trend upwards."
Both the Colts and Patriots are practicing at home through Thursday and taking a flight overseas Thursday night, landing Friday morning Frankfurt time.
"We're going over there on a business trip to go win a football game," Colts coach Shane Steichen said. "That's the message -- it's just a long road trip. Stay focused."
One player not making that trip is Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson, who reportedly is being disciplined for reporting late to the team hotel last Saturday. Belichick told reporters Friday that he expects Jackson to be available to play when the Patriots visit the New York Giants on Nov. 26 following a bye week.
Jackson was ruled out along with left tackle Trent Brown (personal/ankle) and wide receiver DeVante Parker (concussion) as the Patriots departed for Germany on Thursday.
Defensive lineman Christian Barmore (knee), linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley (hamstring) and cornerback Jonathan Jones (knee) made the trip but were limited in practice.
On Thursday, the Colts ruled out tight end Andrew Ogletree (foot) and cornerback Julius Brents (quadriceps).
--Field Level Media