12 Things to Watch for in Sunday's Colts-Patriots Game
This Sunday's matchup has that kind of feel about it.
The Colts have now ripped off two wins since we last met for Eyes. Now they return to New England to take on Tom Brady and the Patriots. The War of 1812 is over, and now we begin a new era of the once great rivalry. This week, be on the watch for...
1. Watch for the air show. The Colts and Patriots have two of the worst defenses in football and two of the biggest-name marquee quarterbacks in the game. Even if you are just a casual fan, you want to see Tom Brady play Andrew Luck. Some of my favorite NFL memories are watching a young Peyton Manning square off against Dan Marino in 1998 and 1999. It's rare you get to see a can't-miss legend-to-be play one of the recognized top 10 quarterbacks of all time. Enjoy this. We all hate Brady, but try to see past the old grudges and take it in, being thankful that your quarterback is still goofy, super-smart and relatable as opposed to an Ugg-wearing super-douche. Ok, so maybe the hate won't die so easily...
2. Watch for the Patriots run game. I can't believe I'm saying that after all of these years. The Patriots tout the league's best offense in no small part due to the effectiveness on the ground. They are averaging almost 150 yards per game rushing, good enough for 5th in the NFL. As much as the Colts need to fear the aerial assault Mr. Bundchen will inevitably employee the Colts need to find a way to slow down the Patriots running backs.
3. Watch the middle. Rob Gronkowski makes the Pats offense go, and Indy is 30th in DVOA against tight ends. Moise Fokou has been solid in coverage, but most of the Colts' linebackers really struggle. They are going to have to shut down the throws up the seam if they have any hope of holding the New England offense under 30.
4. Watch the injury reports. Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez and wide receiver Wes Welker both have missed time this week and aren't certain to play Sunday. While it would be a surprise if they didn't play, their absence certainly changes the dynamic for the Patriots offense. Overall the Patriots are much deeper but also much more banged-up than the Colts. The injury report could be one of the big factors in Sunday's matchup.
5. Watch for vengeance. Darius Butler spent his first two years in New England getting owned by Tom Brady in practice. After being cut after those two years, you can bet that Butler wants to take out some anger on Brady and Bill Belichick. The question is, can he do it? Getting a few turnovers against Blaine Gabbert and the Jaguars' joke of a receiving core is very different from getting even one from a Brady-led offense.
6. Watch for the Children's Crusade. 1812 is done, but 1212 is famous for the supposed invasion of the Holy Land by bands of children. That more or less sums up the state of the Colts offense right now. With so many young guys who have never been to Foxboro, let's hope that this expedition ends better than that one.
7. Watch the rookie. The Pats' pass defense is average against #1 wideouts, amazing against #2s, but last in the NFL against third and fourth wideouts. Look for a huge game from T.Y. Hilton. He's been getting better each week, and the Colts need a near 100-yard effort out of him if they are going to score enough to keep up with the Pats.
8. Watch for a renewed rivalry. Will the fans in Beantown hate Andrew Luck they way they hated Peyton Manning? Will Fitzy go on a rampage? While we know that Tom Brady's football career is slowly fading into his modeling career it wouldn't be a shock if these two powerhouses rekindled the spark and made this one of the season's most watchable games. A competitive game would go a long way in restoring what is one of the great sports rivalries. Let's hope they somehow find a way to put the punch back in this slugfest.
9. Watch the end of a legacy. The Colts and Patriots have played every year since 2003, and before that they played twice a year as far back as the NFL merger in 1970 (with the exception of the 1982 strike season). Barring something unforseen, these two teams won't play in 2013. The Colts would have to win the South or the Pats would have to lose the East and that's probably not going to happen. All good things must come to an end, and the Colts Pats will be put on hold, at least for the time being.
10. Watch the spike-off. Gronkowski is famous for a lot of things, but one thing he's famous for on the football field is his emphatic spikes after touchdowns. Last week Andrew Luck pulled out a little Gronk-like spike after a five-yard touchdown run. Who's going to get to add to his total today, and, more importantly, who's spikes will be more impressive?
11. Watch for a surprise. Tom Brady has faced the same defense in Indianapolis every single year since the start of his career. The Colts, prior to the new front office, basically ran the same set of coverages for the past decade. But this year, the Colts have, as Football Outsiders put it, "no traceable tendencies." In years past, everybody knew exactly what the Colts would be doing, to some extent. This year, Greg Manusky just seems to roll a couple of dice to choose what kind of coverages they're going to run, thus freeing up his mind for more important things.
12. Watch for a bump in the road. I want to take the Colts in this game. Honest I do. A win over New England would be almost as great an achievement as winnging a playoff game, and would signal that perhaps the Colts have a little substance to go with the smoke and mirrors. As much as I wish I could, I can't pull the trigger on a prediction here. New England's offense is too good. Indy puts up a good fight, but falls. Patriots 42 Colts 31.
Eyes is the joint product of Kyle Rodriguez, Todd Smith and Nate Dunlevy.
That 42-31 prediction looks about perfect to me. Perfect "reality" as opposed to what I'd like in a perfect world, I mean (and have YET to see a 100-0 Colts win, but I'll keep on dreaming). I keep thinking that this looks like Giants Pats 2007 all over--if the Colts can keep it close and respectable, within three, and go back to Foxboro to face them in the playoffs... all bets are off. I know BB USED TO have a big advantage over teams he faced a second time each season. That may or may not have had something to do with our fine friends at the Sony Corp. I believe that edge has disappeared the past few years, giving some level of believability to the video-advantage theory. Again, Giants/Pats 2007--Giants won the second game.
I'd love a win here. But even more, I'd love a win in Foxboro come January.
Unique as always (oxymoron?). I never thought about number 9, not playing NE next year. It's always been a given. Children's Crusade? Yeah, I'm sure everyone got that reference. When are we going to get a column comparing the Colts players to characters on a TV show? How about The Walking Dead (we're the zombie killers, not the dead) ?
I'm just going to add this:
"Watch for the Children's Crusade. 1812 is done, but 1212 is famous for the supposed invasion of the Holy Land by bands of children. "
Most nerdy football preview sentence I've ever seen. Kudos and well done sir.
is it just amazing coincidence that as I read this there is a Zappo's ad on the side for the "UGG Classic Short???" Seems like it's too good to be true.