Indianapolis Colts vs. New England Patriots
Sunday – January 18 – 5:40 pm cst
Gillette Stadium – Foxboro
How the Colts Got Here
The Colts come off a 24-13 win over the Broncos in the Divisional round of the NFL Playoffs. It was a game that served notice to the rest of the league that this Indianapolis team has matured and grown when it comes to these games on the big stage.
Luck was solid as he threw for two touchdowns and two interceptions and had great touch on the variety of passes he showed and threw against the Denver defense. The offensive line gave him outstanding protection all day and neutralized the vaunted pass rush the Broncos had shown to have all season long leading into the game.
A key moment was when the Colts in the 4th quarter were able to seal the game with a clock eating drive that took 8:14 off the board and ended with an Adam Vinatieri field goal, giving the Colts an eleven point lead at the time and leaving Denver left to ponder what had just happened to them.
Though they got off to a bit of a slow start, they quickly found their rhythm and points to attack the Broncos defense and get consistent results they were looking for. The big worry was how was Luck going to be able to find open receivers with how well the secondary of the Broncos had been playing coming into the game.
That was quickly erased as Luck was able to find openings in the Denver secondary and got the ball to the likes of Daniel Herron and T.Y Hilton and Fleener, who all had their moments in making big plays to sustain drives for Indianapolis. The run game even got going which was a big bonus for them and helped wear down that Denver defensive line in the fourth quarter.
This unit played one of their more impressive all around games in this one. They were able to get pressure on Manning and force him into some quick and errant throws on key downs to get off the field in quick fashion.
The secondary play really stood out as they battled and won a lot of their matchups against the high powered weapons of the Broncos offense such as Wes Welker, Julius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.
How The Patriots Got Here
The Patriots staged one of the more stirring comebacks in recent NFL postseason history as they rallied twice from 14 points down to win and defeat the Ravens 35-31 at home last Saturday night. They became the first postseason team to overcome two 14 point deficits in a game to come back and ultimately win that game.
It took a true team effort for New England to pull this one off and leaned on Brady and their defense to come up with key plays to stop and then hold off a very game Baltimore team. What was surprising about this was that they made this big comeback with very little production out of their running game. It was literally all on the arm of Tom Brady and the hands of his receivers.Though not their best game by far, the Pats defense came up with some key stops in the fourth quarter to preserve the lead and get the ball back to a red hot offense.
They got off a miserable start as they could not get into any sort of rhythm. They finally found a spark in the short passing game they have been masters at for years. It neutralized the pass rush the Ravens had been getting on Brady with success.
It forced the Ravens to have to play more zone coverage and try to tackle these Patriots receivers in space, something they had difficulty doing consistently. Brady threw to his usual reliable receivers in Edelman, Gronkowski and Danny Amendola. Once they got going, they were nearly unstoppable on certain drives.
This unit struggled to get a handle on the Ravens offense as they could not get pressure on Joe Flacco nor could they stop the run game that was getting as many yards as they wanted to it felt like at times.
Flacco was able to go underneath and create a lot of gains from his short passes, making the Patriots have to come up and commit more people closer toward the line of scrimmage. They did improve in the second half and were able to finally get some tight coverage on the Ravens receivers and force some key punts.
I think the Patriots learned from their mistakes last week and will be ready to start fast in this game. They will get a bounce back performance from their running game and be able to have a more balanced attack to compliment their lethal passing game. Their defense will cause a couple of turnovers and be able to limit Luck’s go to wide receiver in T.Y Hilton. I predict the Patriots advancing with a 38-27 win.