Patriots - Colts Preview: The Grudge Match

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have been plotting how to get back on top of the AFC since the seconds ticked off the clock in Indianapolis last year. The feeling of blowing a big lead late gnawed at players and fans alike. Reloaded for 2007, Sunday's game against Indianapolis looks to be one heck of a grudge match.

Pats Look For Revenge In Their Return Trip To Indianapolis
By Rich "Mell-o" Lyons

"Be prepared for hysterics and even a fainting spell. Better have smelling salts handy and a nip of brandy." ~Witness for the Prosecution

Trends:

New England:

Since 2005:

o 3-2 vs. AFC South opponents
o 12-5 after a home game
o 10-2 as a road favorie (current line: NE -6)
o 24-6 playing on turf
o 18-4 after allowing less than 17 points in the previous week (last week: 7)

Indianapolis:

Since 2005:

o 18-1 at home
o Has not been underdogged at home
o 5-0 vs. AFC East opponents
o 12-2 when the over/under is over 47.5 (currently 57)
o 2-0 vs. New England

Last Meeting: 1/21/07 AFC Championship Game: Indianapolis 38, New England 34 (RCA Dome)
Last Regular Season Meeting: 11/5/06: Indianapolis 27, New England 20 (Gillette Stadium)

Interesting Fact: The meeting between the 8-0 Patriots and the 7-0 Colts will be the first time in the history of the NFL that two teams had met this late in the season that were both undefeated.

Stats:

 

TOTAL OFFENSE

 

 

NE

IND

POINTS/GAME

41.4 (1)

32.0 (3)

YARDS/GAME

439.5 (1)

399.0 (3)

TURNOVERS

7 (3)

5 (1)

PENALTIES

37 (10)

29 (2)

PENALTY YARDS

305 (12)

183 (2)

3RD DOWN

48.8% (13)

53.9% (2)

4TH DOWN

66.7% (2)

66.7% (2)

SCORING EFFICIENCY

57.8% (1)

54.9% (2)

 

 

 

 

TOTAL DEFENSE

 

 

NE

IND

OPP. POINTS/GAME

15.9 (5)

14.6 (2)

OPP. TOTAL YARDS/GAME

265.8 (3)

272.9 (4)

OPP. 3RD DOWN

28.7% (1)

46.2% (22)

OPP. 4TH DOWN

66.7% (29)

50.0% (28)

OPP. SCORING EFFICIENCY

21.3% (1)

24.6% (4)

 

Opponents' Grades and Analysis:

 

PASS OFFENSE

 

QB

PEYTON MANNING

A+

WR

MARVIN HARRISON

A+

WR

REGGIE WAYNE

A

WR

ANTHONY GONZALEZ

B-

TE

DALLAS CLARK

B+

TE

BEN UTECHT

B-

It's no secret that Peyton Manning has been one of the best signal-callers not only of the past decade, but of all time. Manning's ability to confuse defenses at the line of scrimmage and break down defensive coverages and blitzes has been well-documented. Of course, a lot of his success has been because of the weapons he has utilized, mainly Harrison and Wayne. While Harrison has been out the past few games with a bruised knee, Reggie Wayne has filled in tremendously in his absence. Wayne could easily be a #1 receiver on just about any other team in the league. He showed he can catch the ball over the middle and on deep balls last week in the game I went to when the Colts played Carolina at Charlotte. Wayne could not be covered by the Panthers' corners, and went for 168 yards on seven receptions, including a 59-yard bomb down the sidelines. With Harrison likely coming back this week, the gold standard of receiving duos will be reunited. Another facet of the passing offense that Manning utilizes is the middle of the field. While Harrison and Wayne occupy the defensive secondary downfield, it leaves the middle wide open for tight ends Dallas Clark and Ben Utecht to roam free under the coverage. Both these offenses are so effective because there are so many options for both quarterbacks to go to, making it tough on a defense to commit their attention to just one man.

 

 

RUSH OFFENSE

 

RB

JOSEPH ADDAI

A-

LT

TONY UGOH

C

LG

RYAN LILJA

B+

C

JEFF SATURDAY

A+

RG

JAKE SCOTT

A-

RT

RYAN DIEM

A-

 

Addai has really impressed me this season, and especially in the game I saw him in last week. The whole "sophomore slump" precedent has not had any effect on Addai this year. Against the Panthers, Addai was able to pick up four to five yards almost every time after initial contact, an attribute all the great backs possess. This will be a great contest between two second-year running backs with Addai and Laurence Maroney. The Colts run a somewhat unusual offense in that they do not have a fullback on the field to lead-block for Addai, and honestly, they really don't need one with Jeff Saturday at center. Saturday has become the best center in football, and is so explosive off the ball that few nose tackles have the ability to stay near the line when Addai runs through. In addition, the line will be solid for years to come with Lilja, Scott, and Diem all being terrific, and all 28 and under. The big question mark will definitely come with Tony Ugoh, who simply has not been effective this year. It was tough on the Colts when Tarik Glenn suddenly retired during the preseason, and they simply did not have enough time to find a suitable replacement. Richard Seymour is still recovering, and looked rusty last week. If he can get himself back to "game speed" for Sunday, this will be the biggest mismatch on either side of the ball.

 

 

RUSH DEFENSE

 

RDE

DWIGHT FREENEY

A+

RDT

EDWARD JOHNSON

C+

LDT

RAHEEM BROCK

B

LDE

ROBERT MATHIS

A-

ROLB

TYJUAN HAGLER

C

MLB

GARY BRACKETT

B

LOLB

ROCKY BOIMAN

C

 

Freeney has always been a nuisance against the Patriots, and for that matter, the entire league. On the turf, the Freeney/Matt Light matchup has been completely one-sided, with Freeney able to use his size and speed to blow by Light and cause havoc to Tom Brady. Robert Mathis is also a tremendous pass rusher on the other side. Nick Kaczur will be another guy that will have his hands full on Sunday trying to stop Mathis. Ed Johnson and Robert Mathis have been good at stuffing the middle, but if the Patriots run the ball, look for them to go after the middle of the line, as it is next to impossible to get to the outside with the speed the Colts have on the ends. Gary Brackett is a very underrated middle linebacker, and will be called upon to get Maroney and anyone else who chooses to attack the middle of the field. The outside linebackers will be used mostly on blitzes to add to the pressure coming from the outside. Again, the middle of the field is going to be key for both the Patriots' run and pass offense. While Vinny Testaverde was throwing for the Panthers, he effectively used short passes over the middle to drive Carolina all the way down the field on their opening drive for a touchdown.

 

 

PASS DEFENSE

 

RCB

MARLIN JACKSON

B+

FS

ANTIONE BETHEA

B+

SS

BOB SANDERS

A+

RCB

KELVIN HAYDEN

B-

 

Bob Sanders is finally getting the respect that he deserves. After flying under the radar for the last two seasons, for whatever reason, Sanders is now heralded as one of the best secondary players in the league. Sanders adds a terrific dynamic in terms of aiding the run defense, but also lends himself to making the big hit in the passing game. Despite both their starting cornerbacks from last year's Super Bowl team now off the team, Marlin Jackson has been tremendous this year. However, his biggest test will come this week trying to cover Randy Moss. The same goes for Hayden, who will likely be lining up opposite Donte' Stallworth or Wes Welker. Bethea will do everything he can to try and help the young corners out, but it will be tough to account for all the targets Brady will have on the field.

 

Advantages:

When New England Has The Ball:

 

NE OFFENSE

IND DEFENSE

ADV.

RUN YARDS/GAME

135.8 (8)

107.4 (13)

PUSH

YARDS/CARRY

4.2 (14)

4.1 (17)

PUSH

RUSHING FIRST DOWNS

76 (1)

52 (25)

NE

RUSHING FUMBLES

2 (8)

3 (20)

NE

PASS YARDS/GAME

303.8 (1)

165.4 (1)

PUSH

COMPLETION %

73.6% (1)

65.7% (26)

NE

PASSING FIRST DOWNS

125 (1)

67 (3)

PUSH

QB RATING

133.2 (1)

69.9 (3)

PUSH

INTERCEPTIONS

3 (3)

9 (9)

NE

SACKS

8 (3)

12 (22)

NE

 Advantage: New England

 

When Indianapolis Has The Ball:  

 

IND OFFENSE

NE DEFENSE

ADV.

RUN YARDS/GAME

140.3 (5)

87.0 (6)

PUSH

YARDS/CARRY

4.4 (10)

4.2 (22)

IND

RUSHING FIRST DOWNS

69 (2)

42 (15)

IND

RUSHING FUMBLES

1 (3)

0 (31)

IND

PASS YARDS/GAME

258.7 (6)

181.5 (5)

PUSH

COMPLETION %

65.4% (8)

59.7 (11)

PUSH

PASSING FIRST DOWNS

89 (11)

86 (23)

IND

QB RATING

102.5 (2)

73.0 (5)

PUSH

INTERCEPTIONS

3 (3)

11 (4)

PUSH

SACKS

5 (2)

22 (5)

PUSH

 Advantage: Indianapolis

 

Key Injuries:

 

New England:

Eugene Wilson: Questionable (ankle)

• Benjamin Watson: Questionable (ankle)

Sammy Morris: Doubtful (chest)

 

Indianapolis:

Tony Ugoh: Questionable (foot)

Marvin Harrison: Questionable (knee)

• Marlin Jackson: Day-To-Day (neck)

Game Time: 4:15 (CBS), RCA Dome, Indianapolis, IN
Announcers: Jim Nantz and Phil Simms

 

Read more of Rich's pre game analysis in his Keys to the Game.

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