Patriots vs. Colts Game Preview: A Rivalry Renewed
Once again the Patriots are in one of the biggest games of the week, going against the Colts. The Patriots are currently 7-2 (4-0 at home) whilst their now long time rivals are close behind at 6-3 (2-3 away from home).
This is a game that could be very important for the Patriots if they wish to win their division as going a game behind the Jets at this stage could be disastrous. However the stakes are even higher for the Colts, with the Titans and the Jaguars just one game behind them each.
Here are my takes on the key match ups and points going into this key AFC match up.
Patriots Offensive Line vs. Colts Pass Rush
The Colts very possibly have the most talented pass rushing tandem in the NFL with both Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney coming off the edges. If the Patriots want to keep Brady upright the offensive line is going to have to keep those two at bay.
Last week against the always talented Pittsburgh defence the Patriots allowed no sacks at all. This was down to excellent offensive line play and if they can recreate this sort of play then Brady will have enough time to pick apart the Colts defence.
It will be interesting to see the individual battles that Mathis and Freeney will be in against Sebastian Vollmer and Matt Light respectively. Vollmer actually did a terrific job last year when he was matched up against Dwight Freeny in the absence of Light. Hopefully he will have another great day against the Colts.
Peyton vs. Brady
A big part of this game is going to come down to quarterback play. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are two of the, if the the two, best quarterbacks in the league. They both are sure Hall of Famer's, but which do you choose?
Brady was back to his best against the Steelers throwing for 350 yards and three touchdowns. This marked Brady's first 300 yard passing game of the season, but I'm sure he would love to get his second this week.
Manning will be going up against a very young and inexperienced defence which has a weakness against the pass. Although Manning is going to have to work with a depleted receiving core, which takes us on to our next point.
Colts Receivers vs. Patriots Secondary
The Colts, like the Patriots, have had many injuries this year with both teams having 10 players on IR. However the Colts have really been hit in their receiving corps.
They have lost All-Pro TE Dallas Clark for the season as well as WR Anthony Gonzalez and TE Tom Santi. Receivers Austin Collie and Blair White have also had injury troubles, leaving only Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon (who has underperformed) as the only recognisable receivers left.
Luckily for the Colts they have Peyton Manning at QB, who has managed to make the best out of a bad situation. And this week they go up against the 30th ranked pass defence, although they are improving week by week.
If the Patriots plan to win they they must at least slow down Manning and his bag of unknown receivers.
Patriots Run Game vs. Colts Run Defence
The Colts come into this game with the 29th ranked run defence in the NFL allowing over 133 rushing yards a game. Last week BenJarvus Green-Ellis broke off the longest running play against the Steelers all season along with maintaining a YPC average of 4.8. This week the Patriots expect Fred Taylor to be back and this should enable the Patriots to keep both fresh and able to run the ball.
If the Patriots plan to win they must play to the weaknesses of the Colts and capitalise on them. If they can pound the ball up the middle with Taylor and Green-Ellis 25 times this Sunday and be able to succeed with it then they have a great chance to control the clock and win the game.
The Patriots are excellent at home and coming off a big win over the Steelers they have plenty of momentum behind them. Those are two of the reasons I like the Patriots over the Colts this week. Another is that the Colts don't look great this year and the Patriots for the most part look like they could go all the way.
I fully expect this to be a close game and it's another Patriots game I wouldn't be surprised to go either way but from both teams performances this year I have to believe the Colts won't be able to keep up the the Patriots.
Score Prediction: Colts 27-34 Patriots