An old playoff rivalry will be renewed this Saturday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough when the Indianapolis Colts take on the New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional Round. Do the Colts have what it takes to upset an old rival, Tom Brady? Here are five bold predictions for the game.
5. Donald Brown rushes for over 100 yards, scores a touchdown
Brown had just 55 rushing yards and a touchdown this past week for the Colts. However, you can expect plenty of more handoffs and bigger production for multiple reasons.
Trent Richardson fumbled on his only handoff of the game which led to a Chiefs touchdown. Don’t expect the Colts to trust him by increasing his carries. Brown should be the go-to guy in this game.
The Colts are also facing the 30th-ranked rushing defense. With Brandon Spikes now out for the season, it depletes the Patriots already-awful rushing defense much more. Brown should be able to get over 100 rushing yards and at least a touchdown in this game.
4. Patriots rushing game has over 150 yards, two touchdowns
New England has transitioned from a pass-first offense into a ground and pound team. They had the ninth best rushing offense this season. The backfield is loaded with LeGarrette Blount, Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen.
The Colts recently allowed 150 rushing yards to the Chiefs without Jamaal Charles in nearly the entire game, and their 26th-ranked rush defense may find it hard to stop this strong running game.
Don’t be surprised if the Patriots are able to get over 150 rushing yards in this game, along with two touchdowns.
3. Coby Fleener leads team in receiving
With the Patriots likely to focus heavily on T.Y. Hilton, who could easily face double-coverage, Andrew Luck may be forced to spread the ball out more to other receivers, but more often to tight end Coby Fleener.
Fleener had 52 catches for 608 yards and four touchdowns, but he lost a lot of production when fellow tight end Dwayne Allen and Reggie Wayne were all healthy. Now, Fleener is going to be counted on a lot more.
Expect Fleener to lead this team in receiving, and by the end of the game, he could have over 100 receiving yards and a touchdown or two.
2. Andrew Luck outduels Tom Brady in the stat-line and game
Andrew Luck is leading a young Colts team on a mission to take down one of the league’s elite teams.
Luck will be more determined than Brady in this game, and he’s one of the best in the league at using his unknown receivers. If the Patriots take away Hilton from the game, then it just leaves Luck more chances to give the ball to other players.
Brady has shown that Julian Edelman is the only receiver he can rely on this season. Also, the Patriots are likely just going to try and run the ball down the Colts’ throats all game long.
This gives plenty of reason for anyone to trust Luck to have a better game than Brady. Keep in mind when these teams met last season, the Patriots won 59-24, but Luck completed three more passes and had just two less passing yards. He threw three interceptions that included two pick-sixes. He’s not a rookie anymore and has learned from his mistakes.
In the end, Luck will have around 27 completions for 280 passing yards and two touchdowns. Brady will be closer to 23 for 250 passing yards and one touchdown.
But in the end, Luck will have the bigger day.
1. Colts win 28 to 23
It seems as though everyone believes the Patriots will win this game. Hey, does anyone remember Super Bowl 42 or when Mark Sanchez led the Jets to a playoff victory in New England?
People always forget that NFL playoff upsets happen every year, but the Colts are just as good, if not, better than the Patriots. The Colts beat Denver, KC (twice), San Francisco and Seattle. Four playoff teams right there, while the Patriots only beat New Orleans and Denver (they were very close, too.) While the Colts dominated their opponents that were playoff teams.
Chuck Pagano is a defensive mastermind, and as a former Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator, knows how to draw up solid gameplans to slow down Tom Brady. This isn’t the same team that had Rob Gronkowski, Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker, along with Jerod Mayo, Spikes and Vince Wilfork on defense.
The Colts are simply a better team now than last year, and in the end, this team that’s on a mission will travel to New England and shock their old rivalries 28-23 as Luck has a career playoff game, and the defense makes some big plays.
The Colts will move on to the AFC Championship.