By: Russ Goldman
The Patriots are back in the Playoffs to face the Colts. Here are Five Things for you to look for in this match-up.
1. Can the Patriots score points early and often against the Colts? The Patriots struggles scoring points early in games this season is well known. However, they showed against the Ravens, this ability to score early, and take off from there.
The Colts are coming off of a dramatic 45-44 victory, and have shown the ability to come back from a huge deficit. However, the Colts will be doing it this time on the road, and if you can get up on them, I don’t see this team having the defense to stop the Patriots.
I don’t see the Colts being able to have two come from behind victories back to back. So with that said, getting up on this team by a few touchdowns early, could really put the Pats in the driver seat towards victory.
2. Can the Patriots win the turnover battle against the Colts? The Colts and the Patriots are both excellent in the turnover ratio with the Colts being at a +13 differential, while the Patriots were at a +9 differential.
The turnover differential doesn’t always indicate who wins and loses, but it sure can help. The Patriots defense with all of the injuries this season, could really benefit with creating turnovers in this game. I feel it would increase their margin for victory more in their favor.
3. Can the Patriots commit to the run like they have done the last two games? The Colts were 26th in the NFL in rush defense this season giving up 125.1 yards per game.
The way the Patriots are running the ball lately with LeGarrette Blount and Stevan Ridley, the offense has a great opportunity to control the game on the ground. A great running attack will also benefit quarterback Tom Brady in the play action passing game. If the Patriots can run the ball effectively, it could a huge key in this game.
4. Can the Patriots defense contain wide receiver T.Y. Hilton? This receiver had 82 receptions this season, and was the key weapon for quarterback Andrew Luck against the Chiefs.
I don’t know if the Patriots will put Aqib Talib on Hilton, but regardless this player needs to be bracketed all over the field with two players. If the Pats defense takes him away, the Colts could find it very difficult to move the ball.
5. Can the Patriots defense keep quarterback Andrew Luck in the pocket? Luck is on his way to being one of the best quarterbacks in the game. He is not only dangerous throwing the ball, but has the ability to make plays with his legs.
The Patriots cannot let Luck break containment, or they could be in trouble. The Patriots struggled against quarterback Cam Newton containing him in the pocket, and Luck while not the runner of Newton, can make plays running the ball.
In concluding, the Colts are going to be a team to deal with in future seasons, but they just don’t have the team yet to really contend for a title. I think the Patriots have too much on both sides of the ball, and will pull away to the victory in the second half.
If you are looking for more of an extensive preview of this game, please take a listen below to Patriots Fourth And Two.