Colts vs. Patriots: A Luck-Brady Hype Machine Matchup Preview

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistNovember 15, 2012

Andrew Luck will have to carry the Colts yet again.
Andrew Luck will have to carry the Colts yet again.Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

The Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots have given the football-loving public some of the best games in recent memory.

They square off again in Foxborough in Week 11, and the media frenzy over the first matchup of Andrew Luck and Tom Brady is already heating up. The game has been moved to a 4:30 start time, and CBS's top announcing crew of Jim Nantz and Phil Sims has been assigned to work it.

Here's everything you need to know about the matchup.

What it Means

The Colts and Patriots are tied for the third-best record in the AFC, and both teams harbor legitimate playoff hopes. In fact, this could well be a preview of Wild Card Weekend.

Indianapolis needs to find three wins over their final seven games to lock down a likely playoff spot. No one is counting the trip to New England as a likely victory, so if they can steal a win, they'll virtually assure themselves of a postseason berth.

The Patriots are clinging to a two-game in the AFC East but still have to play second-place Miami twice. New England is only two games behind the Texans for the first overall seed in the AFC, and they play Houston in Foxborough in December.

The Pats can finish anywhere from one to four in the AFC, but a win over Indianapolis is a must-have if they hope to avoid playing that first weekend.

Matchup To Watch

Indianapolis Secondary versus Rob Gronkowski and Wes Welker

With Vontae Davis out at least another week and Jerraud Powers on IR, the Colts are reduced to starting Cassius Vaughn and Darius Butler at corner.

There's a reason the Colts have the 32nd-ranked pass defense in football.

The Patriots just happen to have the most efficient passing attack in the NFL.

The Colts are going to have their hands full against both of Tom Brady's favorite targets. They don't cover tight ends well and struggle with receivers.

The Colts' best hope for success against the New England passing game is going to come from patience.

Indianapolis can't afford big mistakes and blown coverages. Tape of the New England-Buffalo game shows how the Bills simply forgot to cover Gronkowski on a 24-yard gain over the middle.

Those are the mistakes Indy can't make if they are going to stay close. It's one thing to get beat by a superior athlete. It's another to leave him wide open.

Tom Brady could well throw for 500 yards on Sunday if he decides he wants to.

Stat that Matters

Turnover Differential

The Patriots are a staggering plus-16 in turnovers on the season. They are tops in the league with just seven on offense and third with 23 on defense. That's the best differential in football.

The Colts have turned it over 15 times on offense (19th) and collected just six on defense (32nd). That's a differential of minus-nine. That's good for a tie for 28th.

Biggest Advantage for Indianapolis

The element of surprise is about all Indy has working for them.

Andrew Luck can be frustrating for opposing pass-rushers to deal with because of his mobility. His accuracy on 3rd-and-long can prove frustrating for a secondary expecting to get off the field.

On paper, this game should not be close. The only thing the Colts have going for them is Luck's unique skill set.

The hype may be premature when it comes to renewing an old rivalry with the Pats, but there's no question Luck will have to live up to it for Indy to steal a win.

Biggest Advantage for New England

Having already covered the complete mismatch that is the Indianapolis defense versus the Patriots offense, the New England running game might as well get some love too.

As if the passing disparity wasn't enough, this game also features the fourth most efficient run offense against the 31st ranked run defense.

Steven Ridley has played at a Pro Bowl level all season and is quietly having possibly the best season by any runner in Patriots history.

Even if Brady has a bad day, the Pats could still just run the Colts out of the stadium.

Best Video Only Tangentially Related to the Game

Fitzy is very, very not safe for work, children or house pets. He's also hilarious when the Patriots lose.

The Colts Will Win If...

...the Pats play like they did against Buffalo.

Andrew Luck is a better quarterback than Ryan Fitzpatrick, so if Indy can just keep piling up points, Luck will likely succeed in getting the final score Fitzpatrick couldn't.

The Indy offense will have to put up at least 35 points to win this game.

The Patriots Will Win If...

...they can stop the Colts' passing attack every once in a while.

New England is going to score at will on the Colts, the only question is whether they can stop the Colts from doing the same.


Indy's in the middle of a great run, and they are a wonderful story.

The real flaws in their roster are going to cost them against quality teams, and this is likely to be one of those weeks where they are just flat outclassed.

The Buffalo near-upset in Week 10 gives them hope that they can compete, and knowing Indy, they'll keep it closer than it should be.

New England is just too strong, however.

Luck v. Brady may only happen a couple of times. Fans should sit back and enjoy it while the can, no matter who wins.

Patriots 42 Colts 31


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