After just one week, where he stunningly led the NFL in passing yards, Jets’ quarterback Mike White will get to display his talents in primetime against a Colts team that has three wins and two one-possession losses in their last five games. And those two drops were to Tennessee and Baltimore — both teams currently leading their divisions. This will be a solid test for White.
While the Bengals were surely a great measuring stick for his first start, there’s now a whole game’s worth of film on White that the Colts will be able to dissect and game-prep for, a luxury that the Bengals did not have. Not to mention that White’s first career start last week came at home. Tonight will be White’s first start on the road, and while Indianapolis isn’t known for having a huge home-field advantage (2.45 True Advantage), it is bigger than the Jets’ advantage at MetLife Stadium (2.14).
While Zach Wilson should be healthy enough for the team’s Week 10 matchup against Buffalo, head coach Robert Saleh seems unwilling to make any commitments to either Wilson or White for the future. So, a solid outing against Indy could be all that Saleh needs to see in order to hand the starting job to White over the team’s No. 2 overall pick.
Another player who played a huge role in the Jets’ enormous Week 8 upset over Cincinnati was Michael Carter, the fourth-round rookie running back. In Week 8, Carter posted season-highs in carries, rushing yards, targets, receptions, and receiving yards. He was integral to the Jets’ victory, and one of White’s favorite targets. He’d shown flashes of being able to lead a backfield prior to last week, but Week 8 was the first time he was able to put together a complete performance. The Colts boast a stellar run defense. While it may not show in their box scores, being 15th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game, the Colts actually lead the league in run-defense DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) and are fifth in total defensive DVOA.
They have also done well preventing backs from making an impact through the air. The Colts have allowed the 10th-fewest receptions to running backs and the seventh-fewest receptions per game. Carter arguably made more of an impact through the air in Week 8 — leading the team in targets, receptions, and receiving yards — and if Indianapolis can continue limiting backfield production through the air, the Jets might have a much tougher time moving the ball downfield tonight.
10.5 points is probably too big a line to bet on any team with a record under .500 like the Colts have. However, it seems far more likely that the Colts bounce back from their Week 8 loss than the Jets repeating their performance from last week. Mike White definitely looked good, but relied a little too much on the short passing game — an area of strength for Indy’s defense — for me to have faith that White will produce similarly to what he did last week. That’s not me saying he’s a bad quarterback, in fact, I think he played at a very high level last week and looked capable of leading an NFL team (I’m not ready to give him the reins over Zach Wilson yet, though). Rather, the Colts defensive strengths match up well against the Jets, and New York needs every advantage it can get if they want to walk away with a win tonight.