Heather Hill Lloyd (a.k.a The Blue Mare) returns from the bye week to share her insights with Phillip B. Wilson on the Indianapolis Colts hosting the rival New England Patriots Sunday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Phil B: So you’re refreshed after your bye week. Your perspective is sound and clear. What are your thoughts about the game Sunday?
Heather: It’s a big game, it’s a really big game. Being able to play the Patriots at home for the first time during this era is huge because, first of all, I kind of feel like this is the first time they’ve been ready for a game like this. Certainly they’ve played big games before, but I kind of feel like in this era of Colts football, this is the first time they’ve played the Patriots at home and are really ready and can definitely win. If they go out there and execute and reduce their mistakes and keep their focus, I think they absolutely can and will.
Phil B: I’m ready to trade you Tom Brady in fantasy football if you want him?
Heather: No, I don’t take Tom Brady in fantasy football. I have a funny fantasy team. I will only draft players that I like.
Phil B: I know that. I’m teasing. You told me about Tom Brady before. I figured I had to bring him up. You can admit he’s a good-looking man with a great-looking wife. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be Tom Brady. Deep down, you admire him, don’t you? (Laugh.)
Heather: He is a good-looking guy. He is a great football player. He’s just not for me. (Laugh.) Listen, I have to say that unlike a lot of Colts fans I actually do respect Tom Brady. I really do. I think he’s a great football player. He works so hard, his determination. He’s everything you would want in a quarterback, but personally, I’m a Peyton Manning guy, I’m an Andrew Luck guy. Tom Brady is kind of a different quarterback, he’s kind of the GQ quarterback. We’ve always had the more down-home Hoosier-type quarterback.
Phil B: My No. 1 concern is not necessarily Tom but ‘Gronk.’ How worried are you about Rob Gronkowski?
Heather: Gronkowski is all the way back and healthy. He’s playing about the best football you could ever ask. I know they’re not going to say and we’re not going to know, but the main thing I’ve been thinking all week is A, we need to get pressure on Brady, and I think we can do that, and B, how are we going to slow down Gronkowski? Who are they going to put on him? What combination of people are they going to put on him? That’s going to be a really big thing, how to slow him down. A great strategy would be to keep the Patriots offense on the bench a lot. In every game, time of possession is huge. But in this game, the longer you can keep Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski on the bench, the better. Maybe that’s the best strategy right there. You’ve got to take your best couple of people and put them on him, you’ve got to try to rush the quarterback, but I think the absolute best scenario is you have them on the field for as little time as possible.
Phil B: We’ve talked about this before. The Colts are in a big game and if they lose this, everybody is going to be convinced they’re not AFC contenders, they’re pretenders, they’re not as good as some of us think they are. We’ve talked about not putting too much into one game, but I don’t know, I kind of think they’ve got to win this or a lot of people will write them off. Do you think that’s true?
Heather: Realistically, that’s what would happen. Does that mean it’s true? No. Yes, it’s a big game and if they win this game, the implications are big. If they don’t win this game, though, I don’t think they’re out of the playoffs by any means. Because the reality is, if you take the teams that they’ve lost to, you take the Broncos, you take the Patriots, you take the Steelers, those are AFC playoff teams. Here’s the funny thing about the NFL, though. We go and get killed by the Steelers, so everyone is devastated over that loss. Well, look at what just happened to the Steelers? They just turned around and had a bad week and got beat by the Jets, which I don’t know if there’s a more cupcake team right now than the Jets. It just goes to show you that, again, every week is just a week you have to go out and try to win somehow. The reality is you can get beat my one team one week and they can turn around and get beat by the worst team in the league the next. It’s huge, but if you just take the AFC side of that and leave out the Eagles loss, we have playoff teams that we’ve lost to here. That just means when we get to January, maybe we have some different people in the lineup, maybe the offense is keyed up a bit more, we’ve got our mistakes dialed back a little bit more, maybe the defense is looking again like it did in a few of these games, where it looked like the best defense in the league. Guess what? I’ll take another go at the Broncos. I’ll take another go at the Steelers. If the Colts don’t beat the Patriots, I’ll say, hey, give me another shot at the Patriots, too. No matter what, this is the team we have right now. The team we have in January, who knows what that’s going to look like?
Phil B: If the playoffs were today, the Colts would play Bengals in the first round. And if they won, they would probably end up going to Denver in the second round. I don’t know, we start thinking about this stuff as the weather turns cold.
Heather: Sure you do. It’s that time of year. I would love any scenario where we can get a playoff game here. Obviously the first round, better yet in the second round, but it all depends on how things go. The great thing about this time of year in the NFL is not only does it matter what your team does every week, it matters what every team does every week from here on out because they all have playoff implications. Every time the Patriots lose a game, it has playoff implications. Every time the Broncos lose a game, there are playoff implications. I’m getting tweets already from Broncos fans hoping that the Colts beat the Patriots.
Phil B: Isn’t that funny?
Heather: I know, exactly, that’s how it is. Every week, you’re going to get bandwagon fans from other teams hoping you can help their scenario come to life. This is when it really gets fun. The first half of the season, like we said before, it was figuring out who your team is and figuring out who these other teams are. The fun part now is, now we have an idea of who the teams are and it’s really a matter of seeing how things fall into place through the end of the season. This is the most fun part of it, right now. I love it.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.