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AP Photo/Joe Mahoney
The Indianapolis Colts beat the Denver Broncos in Denver, pulling the surprise of the playoffs so far and earning a trip to Foxborough to play the Patriots in the process. The Colts have had their struggles against the Patriots in years past, losing 44-23 last year in the AFC Divisional round, then getting blown out again in Indianapolis this season.

The common theme in both those games was the Patriots dominating the Colts in the run game, with Lagarrette Blount and Jonas Gray scoring 4 touchdowns apiece in January and November respectively. Blount ran for 166 yards in that game and Gray went for 201 back in November. The run game wasn't much of a factor in Denver, as the Colts held the Broncos to 88 yards total, but it figures to factor into Sunday's game. Lagarrette Blount re-signed with New England after the Pittsburgh Steelers cut him and Jonas Gray should see some good minutes as well. Gray might have been in the doghouse earlier this year, but I don't think Bill Belichick will leave him on the bench this time, and he'll give him a chance to show his worth this game.

Fast forward to tonight. While the Colts played well enough to beat a Broncos team that looked off color, playing the Patriots with a full complement of weapons on offense and a much improved defense in Foxborough is a much different prospect. They didn't show me anything that convinced me that they can beat us at our place. Let's start with Andrew Luck. He threw for 265 yards and 2 touchdowns behind an offensive line that protected him well. So, yes, he is dangerous with time, but he'll also give the Patriots corners a chance at the ball. In addition to the 2 touchdowns, he had 2 interceptions against Denver because he forces throws, so the Pats secondary will have a chance to make plays.

Defensively, the Colts were pretty stout...against a lackluster Denver team. Denver not playing well had as much to do with them losing as the Colts defense making plays. Peyton Manning was making all sorts of bad throws (surprise, surprise, right?), and that's why the Colts were able to hold a normally high-powered Denver offense to 13 points. I didn't see anything from the Colts defense that'll be be a potential problem for Tom Brady and Co.

The Colts are probably the easier match up on paper and based on recent results, and they didn't show me anything against Denver that the Patriots shouldn't be able to handle, but this is the playoffs. This could still be a bannana peel game for the Patriots if they're not careful. BUT I think the Pats will be well prepared and they'll go out and handle their business on Sunday.

Conor Frederick 1/11/2015 09:00:00 PM Edit
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