Key Matchup: Saturday vs. Wilfork

Colts center Jeff Saturday is very familiar with the goals and tactics of nose tackle Vince Wilfolk. Find out why their battle is important to the outcome of today's game from Greg Talmage.

Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork's goal on every down is simple -- to anchor and absorb two blockers. To do this, Wilfork will tilt-in his alignment and try to shoot the guard/center gap on either side of the center.

Last week, Wilfork worked this to perfection, dusting Redskins center Casey Rabach and guard Pete Kendall for several big tackles in the middle and drawing a holding call on right guard Jason Fabini.

Vince Wilfork is playing the best football of his career right now. He's played with consistency and stoutness. And he looks to be the next Patriot not named Moss in line for a big payday. Vince and Colts center Jeff Saturday are very familiar with each other in the trenches.

Jeff knows Vince is an enormous, hard-to-block plugger. He also knows that in order to be successful against the big nose tackle, you have to go right after him and attempt to wear him down. In the past, Jeff Saturday has been just the guy to pull that off.

While he may be not able to overpower Wilfork with pure strength often; he won't let Wilfork overpower him either. Jeff has been successfully holding his own against bigger defensive tackles his entire career. And he has plenty of experience preventing guys like Wilfork from demanding attention from two blockers instead of just one.

Vince Wilfolk
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

If Saturday can control Wilfork without much help, the Colts running game should yield plenty of positive yards between the tackles. If not, the Colts' rushing gameplan will become increasing more predictable because Indy will be forced to run outside and off-tackle.

When running between the tackles, Indianapolis will rely on the quickness of guards Ryan Lilja and Jake Scott to chip Wilfork and reach an inside linebacker. If forced to double Wilfork, it allows an inside linebacker to roam free on running plays.

One of the knocks on Saturday despite his recent Pro Bowl status is that he lacks the strength to move powerful nose tackles off the line of scrimmage. Ironically, the most memorable block of Saturday's career came against Wilfork in last year's AFC Championship. Saturday had no problem finding the strength to move a powerful nose tackle. In fact, it was his pancake of Wilfork that opened a huge hole for Addai's fourth-quarter winning touchdown run in that game.

While Saturday may not possess the strength to overpower Wilfork all afternoon long, he knows how to use his technique, smarts, and work ethic to hold his ground. Another key component is in this matchup is stamina. Three-hundred and fifty-pound defensive tackles become easier to move as the game progresses and they lose their legs a bit as their energy becomes zapped.

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