The time has come, Colts Nation!! It’s Colts-Pats week. We have had this game marked on the schedule with a big red circle since week one. It may not be the same as it was with Peyton, but nevertheless, it’s a game that Colts fans look forward to seeing. We love watching the Colts punish Brady and make Belichick pull his hair out.
This game’s importance has not changed either. The Colts are trying to break through the wall to be viewed as an elite team. Dating back to last season, the Colts have knocked off many of the NFL’s elite – San Francisco, Seattle, Denver come to mind. This year they attempted the comeback against the Broncos in week one but fell short. Playing New England this Sunday and beating them will lift them to elite status for sure. There is also that bad taste in the Colts mouth from the divisional playoff beating the Colts suffered last season in New England. So as game day approaches, these are my keys to a Colts victory. Here we GO!!
Offensive Keys to Victory
1. Keep Luck Upright
I am aware this is a Captain Obvious choice. If you keep Luck upright and clean then he can pick this Patriots secondary apart. Luck plays well under pressure for sure, but he also makes many of his boneheaded decisions while under pressure. If he makes a high throw this week or reads the wrong route, the Pats will capitalize on it and could quickly result in a pick-6. The Colts offensive line will have to be put on point and with Cherilus possibly not playing Sunday they are going to be down one of their OL leaders. Joe Reitz will more than likely get the start so you can bet that Belichick will try to bring a lot of pressure on the right side of the line with Reitz and Thornton over there.
2. Find The Tight Ends
T.Y. Hilton will be double and triple covered at times to keep him from blowing the top off the defense. Wayne will be his old reliable self but he isn’t the weapon of years past. Nicks hasn’t done much this season so he won’t be keyed on by the Pats defense. So that leaves the running backs and the tight ends. Luck does a very good job of finding his check-down routes with the running backs. He will need to find those guys but if he wants to bust a hole in the Pats coverage, Luck will need to find Fleener and more importantly Allen this Sunday. These two guys need to show up and be ready for Luck to find them.
3. Heavy Doses Of Richardson and Bradshaw
This is going to be a game where Luck can’t do it all on his own. T-Rich and Bradshaw will need the ball early and often. The Colts have done a very good job this season of using the pass to set up the run. The Colts are going to have to flip the script this Sunday. Use the run to set up the pass and wear out the defense. The Colts don’t need 100+ yards from either one but they are going to need them to convert on the 3rd-and-shorts and pound the ball ahead to make the defense so tired they won’t be able to keep up with the Colts receivers. This is the game where Ahmad and Trent earn their pay in my opinion.
Defensive Keys to Victory
1. Take Away Gronk and Edelman
Once again another Captain Obvious selection and it’s the truest statement I’m going to make. If the Colts can’t take away one or the other then this is going to be a long game. Gronk is a mad man on the field and the Colts are going to have to use guys like Freeman and Brown to double him up. Darius Butler will have the chance to show his former team what they are missing by bottling up Edelman one on one. These are the top two offensive weapons the Pats have and if Brady doesn’t have them to get rid of the ball to then he will have to rely on his underneath game with Vereen.
2. Create Pass Rush Without A Ton Of Blitzes
A four man pass rush is vital to a Colts victory. They can’t blitz Brady to much or he will key on that quickly. Defensive coordinator Manusky will have to have a good mix of blitzes along with a four man rush. Redding needs to show up big this game as he seems to find his way through the line without the bltzes. Walden indicated that he will be playing so we will need to see Werner, Walden, Newsome and even Studebaker get to Brady and make his visit to Indy a nightmare.
3. Don’t Get Gashed By The New England Running Game
We all know what happened the last time the Colts and Pats played. Blount had the game of his career and the Colts defense was left licking their wounds. Belichick is a master of tweaking his game plan when something isn’t working well. Along with the defensive backfield, the defensive front is going to have to put a helmet on the running backs and punish them.
This game has every bit of the chance to become a shootout. Luck is looking to turn out a better game against New England and will need a complete TEAM effort to complete his mission. The Colts defense won’t pitch a shutout but they will need to take away – or at least minimalize Gronk’s role in this game and must put Brady on his butt early and often. I know we all will be glued to the television or screaming our heads off inside LOS to show our support of our team. This is going to be a barn burner. A possible first round bye in the playoffs is on the line and adding another victory notch in this heated rivalry is at stake.