Due to the results of recent past matchups between Andrew Luck and the Patriots, fans and odds makers alike are having a hard time figuring out how this game is going to go. Luck has 8 interceptions while going 0-3 with a losing margin of 26 points per game. It hasn’t been all Luck’s fault however, the Indy defense hasn’t come close to doing its part either, allowing over 450 yards per game and over 40 points in all three contests. Here are a few keys to Sundays matchup:
Tight Ends vs. Defenses
There are some very talented tight ends in this matchup. Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen each had 8 touchdowns from Luck this year, with the Patriots general inability to cover tight ends this year these two will be worth keeping an eye on. TY Hilton is the big play threat, but the tight ends will keep possession and the clock moving with intermediate chunks of yardage. Fleener went absolutely bonkers during the regular season matchup with 7 catches for 144 yards.
On the Patriots offense everyone knows about Rob Gronkowski, expect the Colts to be game planning for him once again, with it yielding another 100 yard day for Gronk. One to keep an eye on this game is Tim Wright, he has been quiet as of late, but it’s always when you least expect it that a new Patriot is featured in the game plan (Amendola against the Ravens).
The story of this matchup since Peyton Manning left has come down to turnovers. Patriots have had few, Colts have had many. In order for this game to live up to AFCCG expectations, the Colts need to reverse the script of history and win the turnover margin. Dan Herron is a relatively new addition to the Colts attack that should allow Luck to return some balance to the Colts offense. Running backs Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson had 4 yards on 13 carries earlier in the year, Herron looks to be a more impressive presence in the backfield and short passing game. With the running game possibly having more of a presence for the Colts, this may take pressure off of Luck feeling the need to push the ball downfield into creative defenses so often.
Much of homefield advantage theories are based on history and many times history is thrown out the window in the playoffs, but homefield advantage is a tough stat to ignore when it comes to the Patriots. Tom Brady is 90-15 while playing in the confines of Foxboro, MA. The Patriots are a different team at home and the crowd has stepped up its game this playoffs with one of the louder crowds I’ve heard on TV in a long time (Slick was it loud?). Andrew Luck is a mere 14-10 on the road, but it’s hard to tell what the pattern will actually be so early in his career.
Home team wins 37-24