By: Russ Goldman
The Patriots are coming off of a very close 37-31 home victory against the Buffalo Bills. They will be looking for a much better performance this Sunday against Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium.
WHERE TO WATCH: The game will be shown live Sunday on WBZ-TV at 4:25 PM EST. You can also listen to the game on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston.
GAME NOTES: The Colts are coming off of a convincing 27-10 away victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The visitors are now 6-3, and are actually looking to get into the playoffs.
On defense, this Colts unit is pretty average, but they do have some players that Patriots fans know very well that can get after Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. The Colts defense is a work in progress, but that doesn’t mean it will be a walk in the park for the Patriots.
Robert Mathis already has six sacks, and Dwight Freeney has two so far this season. They are hands down the two players to watch for on the Colts defense, and the Patriots offensive line needs to know where they are at all times.
On offense, this unit is led by a rookie quarterback who I feel is going to be great someday, and that is Andrew Luck. He already has shown the poise of a veteran, and really knows how to read defenses. He also can extend plays similar to Ben Roethlisburger, and ironically runs the Steelers offense that offensive coordinator Bruce Arians uses. This player is special, and is only going to get better.
The Colts still have wide receiver Reggie Wayne, who is playing at a high level. Wayne already has 69 receptions for 931 yards, and is still a serious threat every time he catches the ball.
The Colts do have an average running game, and are currently 14th in the NFL averaging 109.4 yards per game. However, the main threat on offense for the Colts will be through the air.
The Patriots played poorly last Sunday, and they will need to play much better, if they expect to beat an opponent who is on the rise. However, this is a game that I do expect the Patriots to bounce back in all facets of the game.
Here are my “five keys” which I believe could play a role in a potential victory for the Pats.
1. The Patriots defense needs to find ways to put constant pressure on Andrew Luck. The best way to describe the Patriots pass rush has to be the word “inconsistent”.
Against a quarterback like Luck, the Patriots defense cannot just sit back, and let him survey the field until he finds an open receiver. I feel the Patriots need to blitz, if they are not able to get constant pressure with their front four, on the Colts quarterback.
2. The Patriots defense cannot let Andrew Luck get outside of the pocket. Again, the Patriots defense should treat this quarterback as you would Roethlisburger, and make sure he does not get outside to extend plays with his arm or running with the ball.
3.The Patriots secondary needs to contain Reggie Wayne, and make him a non-factor in this game. The Patriots earlier in the season, did a great job of taking out Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. They will need to do the same against Wayne, and I hope he is double-teamed with a cornerback, and a safety over the top.
4. The Patriots need to run as often as possible against the Colts. This was a key last week, and I feel is very important once again. The Colts are currently 22nd in the NFL in rush defense giving up 120.3 yards per game. I do expect Stevan Ridley to be featured in this game.
5. Offensive tackles Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer must contain the Colts pass rush. Like I mentioned earlier, the Colts still have Freeney and Mathis. It will be up to the Patriots tackles to keeping them quiet on Sunday.
Now, I was completely wrong in my prediction for the last game. However, the Colts defense should be able to be exposed on Sunday, and I expect the Patriots defense to bounce back when they face Andrew Luck. I am predicting once again a 31-17 Patriots victory.
What are your predictions? Feel free to post them in the comments section below.
Also, please feel free to listen to a preview of the upcoming game from the radio show Patriots Fourth And Two.