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What We Learned: Colts vs. Patriots

New England Patriots v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

On Saturday, the Indianapolis Colts defeated the New England Patriots 27-17, ending the Patriots’ 8-game winning streak against them. Now 8-6 on the season, the Colts have climbed up to the No. 5 seed in the AFC and will be looking to make a playoff push through the remaining three regular-season games.

Here are my biggest takeaways from Indy’s primetime victory.

  • Colts jump to No. 5 seed in AFC playoff picture

After starting 1-4 on the season, Indy has won seven of their last nine games behind historical rushing performances from star running back Jonathan Taylor and a defense that’s forced at least one takeaway in each of the last 11 games.

Offensively, the Colts find themselves amongst the league’s best in several categories. They rank third in points scored per game with 28.4, 11th in yards per play with 5.7, 11th in third-down conversion percentage at 68.18 percent and second in touchdowns per game with 3.4.

Indy’s rushing offense is even more efficient, ranking first in yards per rush with 5.2, second in rush play percentage with 47.85, fourth in rushes per game with 30.1, second in rush yards per game with 157.0 and first in rushing touchdowns per game with 1.5.

With three games remaining in the regular season, the Colts’ top-ranked offense and vaunted defense will look to keep hold of the No. 5 seed in the AFC.

  • Jonathan Taylor’s case for MVP rises drastically

All aboard the Taylor Train! The Colts’ superstar running back ended an 8-game losing streak to longtime rival New England Saturday night after his 67-yard rushing touchdown, which gave Indy a 27-17 lead late in the fourth quarter. Taylor is starting to have his name thrown into the MVP conversation around the league. Minnesota Vikings’ Adrian Peterson was the last running back to win the award in 2012.

Taylor was selected to his first Pro Bowl after earning the most votes of any player in the NFL with 265,370 and currently leads the league in many different statistical categories — including total scrimmage yards with 1,858 and total touchdowns with 19.

The superstar back also has the most games with 100 or more rushing yards this season with eight, has set franchise records and reached NFL milestones through 15 weeks. Even though a non-quarterback hasn’t won the award in nine years, many would say that Taylor deserves the award most.

  • Colts’ defense continues turnover tear

By forcing two more turnovers against the usually mistake-free Patriots, Indy’s defense now has 31 on the season, which is tied with the Dallas Cowboys for the most in the NFL.

The Colts’ defense has forced at least one turnover in their last 11 games and is on pace for nearly 40 total takeaways on the season. As a whole, Indy’s defense has improved little by little throughout the season and ranks ninth in points allowed per game with 21.4 and 14th in total yards allowed per game with 343.7.

If Indy can make the playoffs for a second straight season, the rate at which they’re forcing turnovers could play a crucial role as they’d likely be going up against some of the league’s top offenses.