....its a good thing that this game is on in the evening so I have enough to time to pontificate and still be relevant. For the first time in a LONG time the Pats will come at the Colts with enough quality DBs to have a chance to really confuse Manning, and his kind of undermanned receiver corps. Here are the facts. The good news is that Collie and Pierre Garcon are coming back to earth. There real threats outside are STILL Clark and Wayne. Also the Colts running game is worse than the Pats. The bad news is that bad news is that Manning is having his best year of his career. Good enough that he's lifted the 28th ranked rushing attack to the point where the Colts lead the league in total offense. Think about THAT. He's been THAT good. So how are the Pats going to attack the top ranked offense on their home field in front of 70, 000 odd liquored up Hoosiers. Here are a few thought. 1. I can be said that over the years the Pats offense has morphed into the Colts offense. Well THIS year, it can be said that the Pats DEFENSE has morphed into the Colts D....to a certain extent. That extent is that more than likely we will attack the Colts with a 4-3 look that will rely MORE on speed than bulk. In this scenario, the Pats like up with 2 big guys (Warren and Wilfolk in the middle, with 2 undersized DEs (Burgess and TBC). Now THAT would be very Colt like. 2. Now in reality the Colt defense is morphing more into the Pats D. In the past the Colts would be very vanilla, lining up in a Tampa 2 almost every play. It was the polar opposite of the Pats. Dungy believed that if a player lined up in the same position all the time, there would be less likely for him to make mental mistakes, AND as the game went along he'd react better to what was in front of him BECAUSE he's seen it all day from the same position. Dungy was able win a lot of games with this because his complexity came up front with the front seven, while he remained mistake free in the secondary. This year with a new DC, the Colts are using more man to man, hybrids and blitz packages. But I digress.... 3. Common wisdom states that, like with Brady, you Blitz Manning at your own peril. That is why I was thinking that 4-3 package with TBC and Burgess you get our best outside pressure rush, while Warren/Wright/Wilfolk push the middle. IMHO, this is the CRITICAL strategy. I've always thought that getting pressure up the middle was the key, even more than off the edge. Pressure up the middle forces Manning to move his feet and throw off rhythm 4. Nw you can drop 7 back into coverage and keep the game in front of you. 5. Now the Pats can do a couple of things here, and most assuredly they will do all that I suggest and more. I doubt very much if Manning will get the same coverage 2 plays in a row. 6. Lets take a look at one coverage I'm sure we'll see. That would be to lock on in man to man coverage underneath (4 across) with 3 deep safeties. Manning like Brady has made a living on the short pass this year. In fact the key to Manning's improvement over the last few years, is that he's become more patient, and less likely to give up the short sure pass to go for the bundle. I suggest cutting off that short pass option and lure him into throwing deep balls into our deep S coverage. And frankly for the first time in years, I like our match ups. So lets assume a 3 wide formation with Collie in the slot Clark at TE, with Garcon and Wayne on the outside. Underneath I'd lock on the receivers with Boddin on Wayne, Butler on Garcon, Willhite on Collie, and Springs on Clark. Yes I know that everyone assumes it will be McGowan on Clark, but Clark is more of a true WR who pushes around DBs when they are assigned to him, while outrunning LBs. In this scenerio you have a bigger CB who isn't easily pushed around, but who has CB skills to cover. Behind them you have 3 guys who are looking to jump receivers who look to have beaten the underneath coverage. By having 3 guys behind the underneath coverage you kill the seam routes that Clark loves, and have deep protection on the WRs OK if you are set on McGowan covering Clark, you can switch him and put Springs back at S or even Chung. BTW- the Pats don't just come out and lock on, they do it on the snap of the ball. Now Peyton has to go to his 2nd and 3rd reads because his usual dump off pass isn't there. Switching this D up with a 4 under Zone can be really confusing and 3 deep. 7. Now the Pats can also go with an old favorite, which is the 5 under zone and 2 deep. THIS is the D that got Ty Law all his picks. Here the CB looks like he's in zone, but has over the top help, so he can fall back into the play when Manning tries to hit the deep out INFRONT of the rotating S. It also puts pressure on the short route that Manning likes so much. Having 5 under ALSO means he'd be throwing slants into a lot of traffic, and of course it kills the screen game. This is more of a first and 10 or 3rd and 7+ D 8. Up front, again, pushing the middle is more important than rushing the DE's. I DON'T want to spend all day watching Burgess and TBC running past Manning drops to the outside. I WANT to see him throw on the run. So when the Pats Blitz, I want to see that double A gap blitz up the middle. I want to see that delayed S blitz up the middle. See the pattern here. UP THE MIDDLE thats the key word. I want the DE's to really sqeeze Manning with power moves inside. I want to see them halt their up field rush when they get as deep as the drop and squeeze. Manning is one QB I don't mind breaking contain so I would take more risks in my outside rushes. 9. I can't help but remember the 2003 strategy when the Pats put Jarvis Green over the C and he overpowered Saturday in the Middle and a had a career day being in Manning's face. This would have been a perfect spot for Seymour this game, and the first time I will really miss him. Could Pryor fill that bill. He looks like he can be explosive up the middle. So has Matt Wright. So this also could be a strategy from the 3-4 look. Relieving any run responsibility for the nose and letting him push the middle while occupying the G with bluff blitzs by the LBs 10. Finally I'm sure we will see a lot of 3 Safety looks, with McGowan, Merriweather, Chung, with Springs rotating in as a S at times. BOTTOM LINE so many possible looks with so many possible personell packages. Its a nice feeling to think we have so many options for a change, because IMHO THAT is what will keep Manning off the board For that reason, I think we have to fake the blitz a lot more than we actually use it. 11. Worry points. The fast no huddle. That would be what I would use to keep the Pats from substituting at will. Secondly the running game. Addai hasn't been much of a threat on the ground this year (though he's been a good receiving threat), but Donald Brown would seem to present a more serious threat, and he's back. I worry about that.