When and where: Gilette Stadium. Foxboro, Massachusetts. 8:15pm
The Colts come into Foxboro off the heels of a stunning come from behind victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, a game in which they trailed by 28 points in the second half. It took a Herculean effort by second year quarterback Andrew Luck to propel the Colts through to the divisional round, and it will likely take another to get Indy past the Patriots.
The Patriots come into this game as the number two seed in the AFC with a 12-4 record. The Patriots are a balanced team, generally more noted for their offensive prowess in recent years but this year they ranked seventh in both total offense and total defense. What sets the Patriot offense apart is that they score more points than having the seventh ranked offense would suggest. They were third in the league in scoring offense. This year but suffered a huge blow when star tight end Rob Gronkowski was lost for the season. The offense is still efficient but without Gronk they lack the go to big play target. Quarterback Tom Brady a down year statistically compared to years past, but still put up very good numbers, posting 4,343 yards, 25 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions, but when you compare that to 5,235 yards and 39 touchdowns from two seasons ago those numbers look less impressive.
The Colts are also spearheaded by their quarterback, however, Luck is far from the Hall of Fame lock that Brady is, but he very well could be going down that same career path. The Stanford product threw for 3,822 yards and 23 touchdowns in his sophomore season. The Colts managed to put up a very impressive 11-5 record en route to a AFC South division championship despite both their offensive and defensive units being in the middle of the pack (1th overall in defense, 15th in offense) due to the fact that the rest of their division was not very good.
Prediction: It’s tough to pick against Tom Brady and the Patriots at home in the playoffs, but I’m about to do just that. I think the Patriots are a vulnerable team with Gronkowski’s big play ability. Brady seems to always find a way, but I think he won’t be able to pull this one out alone. What I saw from Luck last week was enough to convince me that he has the ability, and the ‘intestinal fortitude’ to go into this harsh environment and pull out a victory. It’s going to take another huge day from the Colt’s QB, but I think he has it in him.
Colts – 23 – Patriots – 21
(all stats via NFL.com)