December 30, 2010
Is Indy The Patriots' Biggest Threat?
BY: Mike Saver
With the post-season only weeks away, the playoff picture is starting to uncloud itself. There's a pretty good idea of what teams will be there: the Patriots, Chiefs, Jets, Steelers, Ravens and Colts are almost virtual locks to represent the AFC in January.
Out of those teams, there's one that poses the biggest threat to the Patriots. The Colts.
In an appearance on sports writer, Bill Simmons' podcast, "The BS Report", NFL Network analyst Michael Lombardi was asked who he thinks the Patriots do not want to see next month."
"The Colts", said Lombardi definitively. "[Earlier this year against them] even though [the Patriots] had a 17 point lead with 12 minutes to go in the game it wasn't safe. [The Colts] can score with them. Teams that can score with the Patriots are a problem".
Lombardi's right. While outscoring your opponent is the goal of every game, teams will have to score a lot to keep up with the Patriots. New England currently has the highest scoring offense in the league, averaging 31.9 points a game. That's not against stat-padding defenses either.
The Patriots have faced 8 of the league's top 10 defenses and average 31.1 points against them. New England is scoring in bunches, going over 30 points in 10 on their 13 victories. In fact, the Patriots haven't put less than 30 points on the scoreboard since that November 7th loss at Cleveland.
Since that loss, only two teams have been able to go toe to toe with the Pats and almost win - the Colts and the Packers - and both teams did it in New England's stadium.
"The Packers - even with Matt Flynn - the Packers can score", said Lombardi. "Those receivers of the Packers are tough yards after the catch, look how many missed tackles the Patriots had [that Sunday Night]".
"I think the Colts are the one team in the AFC that they're worried about", continued Lombardi. "I think Peyton Manning is the one guy they want eliminated...[To beat the Patriots] even if you fall behind you still know you're in the game and only one team can do that, that's the Colts".
Peyton Manning's comebacks against the Patriots are fresh in the memories of Boston fans and that has to be what scares fans the most. There was the comeback in the AFC Championship game in 2006 and the fourth and 2 comeback last year. Even this year, Patriots fans were convinced it was going to happen again when Peyton brought his team within a touchdown after trailing 31-14 in the fourth quarter.
"When it comes to re-matches, if the Colts make it to the playoffs and through the first round, I feel that would be a tough out," said former Patriots linebacker, Tedy Bruschi. "I know the Ravens look good and the Chiefs know the Patriots better than anyone, but I feel the Colts would have confidence coming to Gillette based on how they almost got the victory in the first game".
One thing's for sure. The Pats would prefer not to see Peyton Manning in the playoffs.
Here's my list of teams the Patriots don't want to see in the playoffs (in order from scariest to easiest, includes all teams in the hunt):
1. The Indianapolis Colts
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