Location: Gillette Stadium Foxborough, MA
Kick-off time: 8:00 pm EST
Well, here it is: a game between two teams with a combined 1 loss that, supposedly, get no respect by the NFL and the media. Most experts say this is a bloodbath, and that NE will run or throw or do whatever they want all over the Colts.
Key injuries: Bob Sanders will not play again even though he practiced during the week. Note to the Colts: Bob is either ready to play or he isn't. This is now the third week in a row where he's practiced or participated only to get scratched last minute. Either play him on IR him. I'm getting tired of the guessing game. Also, Brandon Stokley is out. I'm getting the feeling we won't see these guys again until the playoffs, should the Colts be fortunate enough to make it there.
Keys to the game:
- Colts run defense. It seems this element of the defense is key every week, but this week it is especially key. If the Colts can't stop NE's running game, pack it in. The Colts cannot win unless they keep Dillon, Maroney, or anyone else from controlling the ground game. If Indy gives up 160 rushing yards to NE, then there is nothing Manning or anyone else can do to stop NE from winning easy. It is literally that simple: stop the run, Colts have a chance. Don't stop the run, Colts have no chance.
- Special Teams. Special teams have often killed the Colts against NE. If it isn't Bethel Johnson running a punt back for a TD, it's Vandy missing a key FG, or Justin Snow botching a punt snap. The Colts must play flawless ST. They must pin NE and force Brady and the offense into bad field position. Adam Vinatieri could be the difference in this game. Vanderjagt missed several big kicks in NE when he was with the Colts.
Attack! The Patriots are the favorites. Everyone expects them to win. They are at home. They are playing the "disrespect card." They want to take Indy's head off.
Good. Bring it.
The Colts should attack deep early and often, forcing NE to back off and protect against the big play. NE's secondary does not have anyone who can cover the Colts WRs one-on-one. They can grab and pull, and they can keep safeties over the top, which is good. This will allow Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes to get yards running the football. But above all, I want to see the Colts attack NE. Punch them in the mouth early.