The New England Patriots are the hottest team in the NFL right now, winners of their last seven games. Bill Belichick and company have officially turned a corner, placing them near the top of the AFC. With an important date with the Indianapolis Colts looming, New England received bad news on Damien Harris.
Damien Harris will miss game against the Colts
The New England Patriots announced that running back Damien Harris is out for the Week 15 tilt against the Indianapolis Colts.
According to the Boston Globe, Harris practiced all week in a limited capacity due to a hamstring injury he suffered in the Week 13 win over the Buffalo Bills. It sounds as if the third-year running back suffered a setback in his recovery.
Losing Harris could prove costly against the Colts. The Alabama product leads the team in rushing with 754 yards and nine touchdowns in 12 games.
The Week 15 game will mark Harris’ second absence in 2021. He also missed the Week 10 victory over the Cleveland Browns.
The 24-year-old tailback played a vital role in the Patriots’ most recent win over the Buffalo Bills. Both teams had to battle blistering winds throughout the game. However, Harris was able to break off a 64-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
When healthy, Damien Harris is a tone-setter in Josh McDaniels’ offense.
The Patriots will need a big game from Rhamondre Stevenson
With Damien Harris set to miss the game against the Colts, the Patriots will turn to rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson as the lead back.
Stevenson is second on the team in rush attempts (100), rushing yards (429), and touchdowns (3). New England selected him in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
The Oklahoma product has been a pleasant surprise for the Patriots. Outside of Najee Harris of the Steelers and Javonte Williams of the Broncos, Stevenson has had the most significant impact on his team of all rookie running backs.
The 23-year-old has made a strong impression since stepping foot in the Patriots’ locker room. Bill Belichick probably wouldn’t have him play such a prominent role in the offense if he didn’t.
“I’ve been impressed by Rhamondre’s growth,” said Belichick per Pats Pulpit. “He’s very coachable. When you ask him to do something, he really tries hard to do it the way that you want him to do it. He’s improved greatly in every area of the game.”
Stevenson’s best game came in Damien Harris’ absence in Week 10. He carried the ball 20 times for 100 yards and two touchdowns. New England will need similar production in a pivotal matchup against the Colts.
With a playoff spot on the line, the Colts want this game bad
The New England Patriots will put their seven-game winning streak on the line when they travel to Lucas Oil Stadium to take on the Indianapolis Colts.
The Patriots are sitting at 9-4, good for first place in the AFC East. With the Kansas City Chiefs winning on Thursday Night Football, New England is currently the 2-seed in the AFC.
Bill Belichick’s squad has knocked off a couple of AFC contenders on their run, but it will likely have its hands full with a hungry Colts team.
Frank Reich’s crew brings a 7-6 record into this matchup. If the playoffs ended today, Indianapolis would hold the 6-seed in the AFC. The playoff picture changes weekly, so the Colts have little room for error.
With the matchup featuring two top-10 defenses, expect this to be a physical game. Neither passing attack is particularly explosive, but the Patriots and Colts both run the ball well.
Since Derrick Henry got injured, Jonathan Taylor has been the most dominant running back in football. The Patriots will try to slow him down as much as possible. On the flip side, Indianapolis will focus on Rhamondre Stevenson.
Stevenson has proven to be a capable back. Still, not having Damien Harris could prove detrimental, especially if the injury lingers beyond Week 15.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference