Another reason the Pats-Colts match-up this week is so fascinating is the fact that itâ€™s a rematch of a huge game that was played so recently, but there have been so many changes, particularly on the Patsâ€™ side, that itâ€™s been hard to find analysis that isnâ€™t based on outdated perceptions. So, I thought Iâ€™d take a look at last yearâ€™s game, and how the teams have changed since then. One thing that jumps out when you look at the stats from the AFC title game was just how badly the Pats were outplayed according to the stat sheet. The Colts had 32 first downs to the Patsâ€™ 17; they outgained the Pats 455 yards to 319, with edges in net rushing and passing 125-93 and 330-226, respectively. The Pats did not score an offensive touchdown over the last 40 minutes of the game, managing just a pair of field goals during that time. In fact, the Pats only averaged 24 ppg throughout last season. How dramatically the offense has been transformed has been well-covered, but itâ€™s worth looking at again: the Patsâ€™ leap from 24 ppg to 41.4 is really remarkable. The Patsâ€™ defense, meanwhile, has managed to stay on par with the ppg level of last year, when opponents managed 14.8 against the Pats, compared to 15.9 this year. This is one example where the numbers really donâ€™t tell the story, though. The Patsâ€™ defense has naturally lost its intensity at times this year, as the team has been up 30-40 points per game. With the addition of Thomas, Harrison being back and healthy, and a secondary that is (knock wood) so far managing to stay on the field, I donâ€™t think anyone would argue that this yearâ€™s defensive squad isnâ€™t markedly better than last yearâ€™s. The Colts, meanwhile, have continued to score points this year on par with years past, including 2006 (their average ppg is actually up about five points). At this point, the Coltsâ€™ offense is a known quantityâ€”unlike the Patsâ€™ offensive package, which has an entirely new arsenal for the Colts to digest, the Patsâ€™ players and coaches know the Colts personnel quite well. As always, the key is stopping them, but again, the Patsâ€™ defense right now is quite simply a different one than last January. As far as the Coltsâ€™ defense goes, theyâ€™ve improved from last year overall, shaving nearly a TD per game off their average. Keep in mind, though, that improving on last yearâ€™s regular season defense isnâ€™t hard to do. A better measuring stick is the post-season, when a healthy Bob Sanders madeâ€”and continues to makeâ€”a big difference for the entire squad. But again, this is the defense the Pats saw in January, while the Patsâ€™ defense, like the offense, has several different, and improved, pieces. So how does this break down? It is, as everyone knows, a game between the two best teams in the league, far away. And that includes the Coltsâ€™ defense, which, shockingly, might be the best the Patriots see. But weâ€™re talking about an offense that is shattering records, so the points will come. Will they come for the Colts? There certainly wonâ€™t be any letdown for this game from the Patsâ€™ defense. No, I think weâ€™ll see Manning walking off the field with that look quite a few times, tugging off his chin strap. The motivation of the Pats this year is well-documented, and in many ways itâ€™s been building to this game. After the bye week of course, itâ€™ll build to something else, something bigger. But this is obviously IT for now. The game might be close, and it might be safer to think that way, but I just donâ€™t see it. My prediction is that the Patriots take it going away, 40-17.