I’ve been licking my chops about this one all week, since the Colts dismantled the Jaguars 9 days ago on prime time. They will be in tough as they face the AFC powerhouse Patriots. In a rivalry that used to feature the two best quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, we now have a battle between rookie quarterback sensation Andrew Luck facing off against Brady.
In the Bill Belichick era, no rookie quarterback comes into Foxboro and wins. That is, before the secondary became brutal. The Patriots have been putting up enough points to bail out the defense, but they will be in tough again this weekend against the Colts offense. Look for this game to be a shoot out, as both teams feature a poor secondary, and the Colts are hit with injuries on the back end.
The Patriots will have Aqib Talib in the line up for Sunday’s game. Talib was picked up via trade from Tampa before the deadline, but was suspended for a drug charge and will be making his debut against the Colts. Look for him to try to control Reggie Wayne, who has been rejuvenated in the new Colts offense under Bruce Arians.
The Colts will be without corners Vonte Davis, and Jerrod Powers, which is not good when the Patriots feature so many offensive weapons. If you have Patriots on your fantasy squad this week, you are going to have a big day! The Patriots are putting up 430 yards in offense, and 33 points a game. The Colts can’t stop the run or pass, but have been playing well and are hungry to prove that this 6-3 run is not a fluke.
The Colts are the best story in the NFL this year. We all know about their coach Chuck Pagano and everything that he has been dealing with. They will be playing with heavy hearts for the rest of the season, and it’s hard to put away a team who has something to play for. I don’t expect the Colts to slay the dragon, but I expect them to compete hard and make a statement.
Andrew Luck has been as good as advertised this year. He is on pace to break a lot of rookie passing records, and has looked like a veteran in the pocket showing poise and awareness. What’s most fascinating is that he is looking down field and opening the up the playbook so early in his career. He understands the offense better than most quarterbacks in the league, not just the rookies. He will have a good day against this Patriots defense.
However, Luck hasn’t been great on the road with the except of last Thursday against a bad Jaguars team. They also haven’t been consistent running the ball this season, even though they are averaging over a 100 on the ground. Much of this is Luck and his ability to scramble and make plays with his feet. If Vic Ballard and Donald Brown can be effective, this game will be down to the wire.
Why the Patriots will win – The Patriots are too talented on offense and will put the Colts into a lot of vulnerable situations that they won’t be able to stop. Brady will spread the ball as expected, and use Stevan Ridley and Danny Woodhead to keep the balance. Brady will use his match ups to his advantage and expect a heavy dose of Rob Gronkowski down in the red zone. I expect a long day for the Colts who are allowing 350 yards a game in total offense. If Brady is on the field, they will be scoring points.
Why the Colts will win – Andrew Luck has been asked to do a lot this season in his freshman year. Look for him to throw against a bad Patriots secondary. They are a big underdog in this game, but they are playing motivated football. If Luck can score points, and the defense to step up and pressure Brady, the Colts can keep it close late and Luck can add to his resume of 4th quarter comebacks.
What is more likely? - The Patriots will be too much for the Colts to handle and will put this game away comfortably at the half, but will allow Luck to have some great garbage time numbers. Welker, Ridley, Gronk, and Lloyd will have good days, and they make a statement against the Colts.
Fantasy – If you have Patriots or Colts, play them… except their defenses!