Preview: Spotlighting the Patriots vs. Colts in the Divisional Round

Credit: New England Patriots
Credit: New England Patriots

This isn't a complete shoe in for the Patriots. Sorry, but when Andrew Luck is on the other side line--as young as he is--the Colts can come probably come back from 28-point deficits. Oh wait, they did. 

Also, no, we are not playing a reincarnation of Matt Schaub and his high school band crew from last year. That guy is a slouch and I knew we'd show everyone he was a fraud. Guy probably knitted the letterman jackets himself.

But anyways, onto the Colts. They are not the superior team, but they do present some problems. Besides Luck,  receivers T.Y. Hilton, tight end Colby Fleener and their two running backs could present a few issues. On defense, defensive end Robert Mathis is the boogeyman in the closest. Don't fall asleep or he'll get ya. 

Defense: What to watch for? Never doubt Andrew Luck and his assortment of side-kicks. That is what the Patriots are facing this week. While many have dismissed the Colts and have already booked a trip to the AFC Championship game, I caution. Luck is no Andy Dalton or Alex Smith. He doesn't have noticeable or significant limitations.  

Much like his predecessor, Peyton Manning, Luck can distribute the ball to all corners of the field. That ability instantly makes those players better. The matchup most are watching this week is Patriot's corner back Aquib Talib on Colt's newbie receiver Ty Hilton (82 Rec, 1083 yds, 5 td). He is strong, quick, and fast. He can run past and under the defense. You always have to account for him. Jam Hilton at the line of scrimmage and get him off rhythm.

I might also watch their running backs. The Colt’s aren’t deep in the backfield. Running backs Ahmad Bradshaw is injured and Trent Richardson has not totally lived up to expectations. Yet, both Richardson and Brown have 28 and 27 catches respectively out of the backfield and have netted around 8 yards per catch plays. 

While now injured Brandon Spikes was not a coverage linebacker, this only puts more spot light on rookie linebacker Jamie Collins and veteran Dane Fletcher. They are better in coverage and will see the field in most defensive types.

Offense: This is not Tony Dungy and Jim Caldwell’s defense. The Colts are bigger up front and play a 3-4. But, they are still vulnerable. They are 26th in the league in stopping the run. When the Colt’s try to match up personnel, New England should run and run hard. After all, if you have a deep running back group who can match up against probably any defense, why not use it? Run LeGarrette Blount and Ridley right at them. 

The obvious spotlight here is veteran defensive end and long-time Colt, Robert Mathis. The beast had 19.5 sacks this year and 9 forced fumbles. I thought this guy was walking around some retirement home. Neutralizing him will be a big deal. Yet, maybe more so, the Patriot’s receivers need to get open fast.

Overall: New England should win this game, but Luck does make me lean forward on my seat. He knows he’s good and he will test his arm. The Colts will also rely on him more than anyone else, so the Patriot's defenders need to intercept that damn ball, force some fumbles and throw off his rhythm.

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