Colts vs Patriots Championship Playoffs - Part 2
Todd Taylor is an insider for Coltpower.com the Colts site on the Scout Network.
Taylor: Marvin Harrison has been Manning's go-to guy since his rookie season, so using the term "more comfortable" with any other receiver wouldn't seem right. Harrison has at least 1,100 yards receiving in each season with Manning at the helm. In those years, Harrison has grabbed a pass of 50+ yards in every season. But, in his sixth season with Manning, Wayne has definitely become a very dangerous deep threat and is great after the catch. In 2006, Manning and Wayne hooked up for 20+ yard passing plays in 12 of 16 games. In this game, I expect Manning to go to Harrison early and often. In the team's last two regular season meetings, Harrison has abused the Patriots' secondary, catching a combined 17 catches, 273 yards and four touchdowns.
As far as a homerun threat, I'm not sure Harrison or Wayne will fit that role Sunday; I think the Patriots will keep everything in front of them and allow Manning to dink and dunk.
Q) Can you describe the feelings you think will go through Colts fans if the Patriots manage to steal a win in Indianapolis or if the Colts finally knock off the Pats to advance to the Superbowl?
Taylor: If the Colts lose one word comes to mind -- devastation. We are talking about a city that hasn't seen a professional sports team earn a championship since the days of the red, white and blue ball in the ABA. The Pacers have made the playoffs in 16 of their last 17 seasons with nothing to show for it.
This is a Colts' team that people said would never have a better chance to win the Super Bowl than they did last year when they earned home-field advantage. But here they are with a home game against the four seed to earn a trip to Miami. With looming salary cap issues and an incredibly strong AFC conference, the general sentiment in Indiana is that it's now or never - and for good reason. Expect the streets of Indianapolis to be flowing with man-tears should the Colts falter again. If the Colts win it will be a scene of absolute joy and relief.
Q) Colts GM Bill Polian has been in the press again trying to make a point about defenders making contact downfield and that he hoped it would be called correctly. Polian was reportedly the one to insist on stricter enforcement of the 5-yard no-contact rule after the Colts lost to the Patriots in the playoffs a couple years ago. Patriots coach Bill Belichick opted not to say anything about the officials in response to questions about Polian's remarks. Do you see Polian's comments as a calculated move to try to drum up sympathy from the officials before the game?
Taylor: Belichick refused to comment on a controversial issue? No.
In all seriousness, without a doubt, Polian is trying to gain an advantage. The Patriots' success against the Colts in the playoffs was a direct result of their ability to bully Colts' receivers coming off the ball. If the Colts were a grind it out, in your face, defensive team, Polian would argue that these new rules are ruining the game.
While his comments and actions draw criticism from many, he is the type of GM you want leading your team. He will lobby, complain and fight for his team in every waking moment, so what else could you ask for really?
Will Polian's comments effect the game who knows, probably not. Will it serve as bulletin board material for the Patriots that's more likely.
Q) Dan Klecko was a fan favorite here in New England. They guy is very likable, he teammates loved him, he always joked around in practice, at camp. He knew he could be cut from the roster, but he still had fun working hard even through the grueling two-a-days. Has Klecko continued to have that type of impact with his new team? And does he see any action on defense or has he made the transition to blocking fullback a fulltime thing?
Taylor: Klecko has been a nice addition for the Colts. He continues to rotate in on defense, providing breathers for Raheem Brock and Anthony McFarland. But his biggest impact as of late has been his work at fullback.
In Week 16 against the Texans he caught everyone by surprise when he drifted into the end zone and caught a 2-yard touchdown pass from Peyton Manning. Over the past few weeks he's been very effective as a lead-blocker for Joseph Addai. In past years the Colts didn't use a fullback much because Edgerrin James didn't seem to be comfortable being forced to follow the pace and path of a blocking back.
But when the Colts were struggling this year in short-yardage, they gave Klecko a chance to pair up with rookie Joseph Addai, and it's worked out very well. Addai seems to react well to the action in front of him as he follows Klecko into the chaos of the line battle, consistently getting positive yardage behind the big guy.
Q: It's hard to say a rookie can replace a potential hall of fame type of running back, but has Joseph Addai completely replaced the loss of Edgerrin James in the Indy offense? Can he do everything James used to do?
Taylor: It would be easy to point to stats and say, yes, Addai has completely replaced James, but it isn't that simple. Addai had a far better year, but Addai split carries with Rhodes and had a good offensive line in front of him.
If given an option, I would take James. He knows the system like the back of his hand and I would trust him in pass blocking and pass catching situations a little more in the postseason.
That being said, I can't count how many times I have marveled at how much Addai resembles James both on and off the field. Addai, like James, is great at gaining yards after contact, always goes forward, is a threat in the passing game and is a good blocker. Off the field, they are both quiet, ultimate team-players and good guys.
While I would take James over Addai right now, this is no knock on Addai; he is an incredible young talent and has conquered everything put in front of him.
Three For The Road
Who will win and why?
I hate making predictions and my gut tells me the Patriots have another upset in them, but I'll go with the home team here:
Colts 27, Patriots 24.
The Colts will win by being patient and taking what the Patriots' defense gives them. The Colts' defense will come back to their senses, but the pass rush will rattle Brady enough to get the Patriots' offense off balance.
Will Joseph Addai have over 100 yards?
No, but Rhodes and Addai will combine for 100 rushing yards.
Who do you think will win the NFC?
Chicago 24, New Orleans 23
The Bears will make Saints settle for field goals in the red zone and the offense will do enough to win this one.
Read Part 1 where Todd addressed more of your questions about the Colts