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Week Three Bold Predictions: Colts’ Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines Shine

The Colts ran 50 plays in Week Two against the Jaguars. Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines had a combined 15 touches for 100 yards. In Week Three against the Kansas City Chiefs, the team should see an uptick in running back usage in order to help a struggling offensive line.

It’s Week Three and the Colts head back to Indianapolis with the hopes of righting the ship against the Kansas City Chiefs in their marquee matchup. The team is currently 0-1-1 after tying against the Houston Texans and losing to the Jaguars, in Jacksonville, for 8th straight season. Here are the bold predictions for Week Three.

Colts’ Jonathan Taylor Sees Heavy Usage In Week Three

After touching the football 35 times for 175 yards and a touchdown in Week One versus the Texans (31 carries for 161 yards and a touchdown; four receptions for 14 yards), Jonathan Taylor only touched the ball ten times (nine carries for 54 yards; one reception for nine yards). Although Frank Reich stated over the summer that he wanted to be more balanced on offense, it was a bit shocking that Taylor did not see more touches, especially since Michael Pittman, Jr. and Alec Pierce were not available for the Week Two matchup.

🚨 JONATHAN TAYLOR FANTASY POINTS! The #Colts are now +315 to beat the #Texans #MakeAPlay ➡️ — Bodog (@BodogCA) September 11, 2022

I’m not sure it’s a bold prediction, but I predict Taylor’s usage will pick up tremendously in Week Three. Jonathan Taylor will have over 180 all-purpose yards against the Chiefs. The Chiefs currently have the 11th-best rushing defense, allowing only 89 yards per game. That stat can be a little misleading; the Chiefs played the Cardinals Week One and the Chargers in Week Two.

The Cardinals’ running backs averaged a little more than four yards per carry and had one touchdown. While the Chargers do not particularly run the ball well, their running backs averaged a little over three yards per carry against the Chiefs. The Chiefs will also be without linebacker Willie Gay who is suspended. I expect the running lanes to be open even more.

Colts’ Nyheim Hines Sees Double Digit Targets

Through two games, Nyheim Hines had a total of 41 snaps and has been targeted a total of 11 times. Of those 11 targets, he’s caught ten passes, and has compiled a total of 87 receiving yards. Hines is currently third in receiving yards behind Ashton Dulin and Michael Pittman, Jr. Hines is also currently tied for sixth with Rex Burkhead, Dalvin Cook, and Saquon Barkley for running back targets through Week Two.

NFL Running Back Target Leaders after Week 2: 1. Javonte Williams, 16 2. Michael Carter, 14 2. Austin Ekeler, 14 4. Joe Mixon, 13 5. Antonio Gibson, 12 6. Rex Burkhead, 11 6. Nyheim Hines, 11 6. Dalvin Cook, 11 6. Saquon Barkley, 11 — Devin Lange (@DevinLange32) September 20, 2022

Last Sunday’s game against the Jaguars showed the desperate need to get Nyheim Hines more involved in the passing game. To start the game, Nyheim Hines lined up in slot and caught a slant across the middle for a 19 yard gain. On the third play of the game, he lined up on the left side of Matt Ryan and then motioned out to the right and caught a screen pass for four yards.

With how the game started, it looked like Hines was going to be used a lot as a receiver in the absence of Michael Pittman, Jr. and Alec Pierce, but he only saw three more targets the rest of the game and only played 11 more snaps.

RB Receiving Yards Leaders, Through Week 2: 1. Austin Ekeler – 91 2. Joe Mixon – 89 3. Nyheim Hines – 87 4. Antonio Gibson – 85 5. Clyde Edwards-Helaire- 76 6, Javonte Williams – 75 7. J.D. McKissic – 74 8. Tony Pollard – 69 9. Michael Carter – 67 10. Aaron Jones – 65 — Russell Clay (@RussellJClay) September 20, 2022

Although the Colts will be getting Michael Pittman, Jr. and Alec Pierce back this week, I believe Hines will see an increase in playing time and usage in the passing game. The Colts have to find a way to help out a struggling offensive line by working the quick pass game. Getting the ball out to playmakers quickly in space can help slow down the pass rush. The team also does not have to substitute Jonathan Taylor out of the game for Hines. Hines can line up in the slot with Taylor in the backfield or both backs can be lined up in the backfield.

Through two games, the Chiefs have given up 17 receptions and 117 (6.88 yards per reception) yards to running backs (Eno Benjamin/James Connor combined eight receptions for 62 yards; Austin Ekeler had nine receptions and 55 yards). For these reasons, my bold prediction is that Hines will see over ten targets this game. I think he catches nine balls for 62 yards and a touchdown.

Colts Hold Chiefs In Check

The Kansas City Chiefs are tied for second as the highest scoring offense in the NFL. Sunday, the Chiefs will see a familiar face on the Colts sideline, Gus Bradley. Gus Bradley was the defensive coordinator for the Chargers from 2017 to 2020 and for the Las Vegas Raiders in 2021. Patrick Mahomes has played against a Gus Bradley-schemed defense seven times.

In those seven games, Mahomes is 6-1 (4-1 versus the Chargers and 2-0 against the Raiders). Against Gus Bradley, Patrick Mahomes has a 65.3% completion percentage (156/239), 17 touchdowns & two interceptions. In three games between 2019 and 2020 as the Chargers Defensive Coordinator, Gus Bradley was able to hold the Chiefs defense somewhat in check:

Although Mahomes and the Chiefs won those games, the high powered offense was held in check, averaging only 26 points per game. Can Gus Bradley game-plan for the Chiefs and recapture some of that success he had with the Chargers?

Frank Reich has faced Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs two times as the Colts Head Coach. In those two games, the Colts are 1-1. On January 12, 2019 in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, the Chiefs beat the Colts 31-13. (Unfortunately, that was the last time we saw Andrew Luck play in a Colts jersey.)

On October 06, 2019, the Colts beat the Chiefs 19-13. In the second game against the Chiefs, Frank Reich deployed the rushing attack of Marlon Mack, rushing Mack 29 times to the tune of 132 yards. The Colts won the time of possession battle, controlling the ball for 37 minutes.

FINAL: @Colts take down the Chiefs! #INDvsKC #Colts (by @Lexus) — NFL (@NFL) October 7, 2019

With the defense feeling exposed against the Jaguars, and Gus Bradley and Frank Reich’s experience against the Chiefs, I believe the Colts deploy a game-plan that slows down the Chiefs and keeps Mahomes on the sideline for the majority of the game.

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