It’s finally here. The week our Indianapolis Colts play the New England Patriots and the trash talking has already started. I have seen some pretty insane comments around social media from Pats and Colts fans alike. It may seem crazy, but there is a rivalry on the field but the rivalry between the fans I feel gets more intense every year these two teams play each other. However, there is a game to talk about here and it doesn’t involve deflated footballs, video tapes, bugging, playbook stealing, or UGG boots. It involves arguably the hottest team in the NFL going up against a bitter rival in Indy. There are a few things to watch for this weekend and none of them are real surprises. There are a few things that I think could play a key role in a Colts victory when Sunday Night Football begins.
1. Frank Gore/Ahmad Bradshaw
It finally happened and we all have been rejoicing. The Colts brought back Ahmad Bradshaw. We now can feel more secure in the running game the Colts have with Gore leading the way and Bradshaw giving him a breather. Their running styles are almost the same except Gore does make more cuts and Bradshaw blows out your guts. In my opinion, the running game for the Colts is paramount this Sunday if they want to get the win. Andrew Luck could be 85-90% by game time, but not having our young signal caller have to beat the Patriots with his arm would be great. These games are why Gore was brought here. Bradshaw has the bad taste in his mouth just as much as the rest of the Colts team does. He will be wanting revenge as well and he’ll be doing it with fresh legs.
2. Colts Linebackers
So let’s lay this out there for anyone who isn’t aware. THE PATRIOTS RUN DINK AN DUNK ROUTES ACROSS THE MIDDLE ALMOST ALL GAME!!!! Ahem, now that that’s out of the way that brings me to my key to the game, the linebackers. Clearly D’Qwell Jackson cannot cover his shadow in pass coverage. jerrell Freeman can hold up for awhile, but still not the best in coverage. What does that mean for the Colts? More Sio Moore and Nate Irving hopefully. Irving was brought here because he has good coverage for an inside linebacker. Moore was brought here because he can cover just as well. These two guys have to see the field more than they have been if the Colts want to try and slow down Rob Gronkowski, Julienne Edelman, and Dion Lewis. If he can play downhill then DJax will be proven to be a great asset here, but he cannot drop into coverage. The Colts are not going to stop Gronk from getting catches and they won’t do it to Edelman either. What can be done is slowing them down and limiting the gains. Hell, who knows, Tom Brady may get a big head and try to force one to Gronk and get picked off like he did in the AFCCG. Wouldn’t that be sweet?
3. Colts Secondary
This unit has been bad the last couple of weeks. Vontae Davis, Darius Butler, and a rusty Greg Toler have been dealing with injuries, but they are all back together again and it’s time to see the “No Fly Zone” come back. Mike Adams and Dwight Lowry are playing well and more than likely will be tested deep and often this week. The Pats will more than likely try their favorite play where Gronk goes wide and is covered by a cornerback who he out-muscles and scores a touchdown or gets a huge gainer. Davis has to the be guy on him when they do this. He is the best corner the Colts have and will have the best chance of knocking it down or getting an offensive pass interference call. The one guy that I want to see more of is Clayton Geathers. He had a great preseason and has been alright throughout the season. It’s time to show that leadership we all know he has and put it to use. He can, and more than likely will, cover Gronk. He has the speed and size to hang with him. Geathers was drafted to be a future safety for the Colts. They play him in their dime package and I am assuming we will see a lot of the dime package this Sunday.
4. Andrew Luck
This is a no brainer. Luck is the key to the Colts winning and we all know that. Then why is he on this list? Because he has been a turnover machine this season. Now I’m not sure when he hurt his shoulder or this began and if it happened earlier in the year that could explain some of those issues. That doesn’t excuse him throwing interceptions all season long. Gregg Doyel wrote something that was spot on a week or so ago and it asked if Luck was taking notes while on the sideline. Veteran Matt Hasselbeck showed how to be productive and take care of the ball. Did he “shine” on the field? Nope, but he damn sure led the team to two wins and not one interception. Luck will be playing with a huge chip on his shoulder. He knows he is better than his AFCCG appearance and he will want to correct that. This isn’t the time to show how big your…uh…arm is. It’s time to lead this team to a win and to do that you cannot give the Patriots more possessions than they will need.
5. Colts Pass Rush
It was announced that starting left tackle for the Patriots, Nate Solder, is out for the season now. Don’t get it twisted though, Ole’ Billy Boy makes sure to have good reserves so you can bet that it still won’t be easy to get to “Tawmee”. The Colts pass rush has been putrid this season and if the Colts want to have a chance then the pass rush has to show up. Brady is aging and if you hit him enough he will start to fold a little or want to go to the run game more often than throwing. Robert Mathis has been progressing throughout the season and hopefully this is the bust out game for him. If not, at least Trent Cole has been less than terrible at getting to the quarterback this season. Young star Jonathan Newsome has digressed this season and THAT needs to change this week. Putting Brady on his back is something that must happen. Giving him a clean pocket all game will only allow him to rip a team apart. He is quick at getting rid of the ball so getting to him is going to be hard, but if they do it has been shown that he doesn’t like the ground and meeting it hard can get him a bit rattled.
6. T.Y. Hilton
Hilton is a star in this league. No one can really say he isn’t, right? Wrong. He is a star, but stars emerge in big games and he has even said that he hasn’t done his best in the big games against the Pats. Yes, they double team him but if he wants to be called elite that shouldn’t matter to him. Double or triple team him and still make plays. I don’t think anyone is expecting a 200 yard game with multiple touchdowns (not that we’d be mad if it happened), but I do expect the man that the team just paid a good sum of money for to at least be a viable option for Luck all game long. Hilton knows that this is a game that he has to do much better in and I have a feeling he will. He luckily won’t have Darrelle Revis breathing down his neck all game. Andre Johnson FINALLY emerged last week and Donte Moncrief is showing signs of great things already. The Pats cannot continue to double team Hilton and expect to shut down the Colts passing attack like they did last year. It’s time for “The Ghost” to come out from under the bed and if he can’t, then maybe Philip Dorsett will make that first round pick worthwhile.
This game is being publicized by so many people as the revenge game for both teams. The Colts have been slaughtered by the Pats in the Luck years and the Pats are pissed because the Colts were the bell ringers on “Deflategate”. Screw the revenge aspect of this game. This is a game against two awesome teams that have been rivals since long before the AFCCG last season (but ironically after they were no longer in the same division). One team found their rhythm early and have been dominate. The other has found that rhythm, but they have to keep it going and they can be dominate. I would like to add this as well, to the fans who will be at the game or watching the game in a public place: Be kind to one other. We all love football and there is no reason to make things personal over a football game and the events that happened in Dallas last week are a far cry from what fandom is. Have fun and GO COLTS!!