Forgive me for adding to the Patriots-Colts hype.
I just can’t help myself.
As a diehard Patriots fan, I've been living a dream these first eight weeks.
Thankfully it’s the undefeated, world-beating Patriots dream...and not the one where Pete Carroll comes back and ruins my life.
New England is playing its best football of the Brady-Belichick dynasty, and some of the best football in recent memory. The Pats' Super Bowl teams won with grit and teamwork; the 2007 juggernaut is winning with offense and more offense.
The latest trend in the NFL is to emphasize offense over defense in building a team. Many observers believe this to be a result of teams' trying to keep up with the Colts—an offensive power whose success relies on their ability to score in bunches.
However, the Patriots didn't revamp their offense to keep pace with Indianapolis. When the Pats and Colts play, the result is rarely a shootout (AFC Championship Game notwithstanding), and New England has had success keeping the Indy O in check.
If anything, Indianapolis’ run to the Super Bowl last year was a result of a strong defense and a dependable running game. If the Colts want to win when it matters, they know they can’t afford to rely solely on the arm of Peyton Manning.
But to win on Sunday, Manning’s arm is going to have to do a lot of work.
The Patriots have effectively flipped the script in this rivalry: New England is the high-scoring, pass-crazy team, and the Colts are the buttoned-down, defending champion stalwarts.
This is what scares me the most.
It used to be that everyone hyped the Colts while overlooking the Pats. Now the opposite is true.
New England's quest for perfection is the story of the year. The Colts' perfect record is an afterthought.
The pressure is on for the Patriots—and Manning and Co. have all the motivation they need.
Bill Belichick's teams have long specialized in taking every little slight and turning it into a rallying point. When critics nitpicked their weaknesses, they turned them into strengths.
Now, there's nothing to criticize, so the Pats have to create their own inspiration.
The overblown Videogate saga has provided plenty of fodder—and the Pats must realize by now that they'll be the bad guys on Sunday.
Everyone loves the Colts, and everyone hates the Patriots. So far, that's been more than enough motivation for New England.
This weekend will be no exception.
In my mind, the Colts aren't even in the same class as the Patriots. It's also worth noting that Troy Brown is a future Hall-of-Famer in my mind, so take what I say with a grain of salt.
The Colts haven't faced an offense like the Patriots' this year. No one has had an answer yet, and I don’t see Indianapolis having one either.
Sure, Manning might get his three touchdowns, but it won’t be enough. Unlike in recent years, the Colts will be the ones trying to play keep-up—and they'll fail.
The Patriots know how important this game is. Critics questioned their championships in the wake of the spying accusations, and they'll question the greatness of this team if it loses to Indy.
Make no mistake: The Pats are great. And they'll prove it on Sunday.
Prediction: Patriots 38, Colts 21
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