New England Patriots vs. Indianapolis Colts Pick-Odds-Prediction 1/11/14
Indianapolis Colts (11-5) at New England Patriots (12-4)
NFL Football: Saturday, January 11, 2014 at 8:15 pm (Gillette Stadium)
The Line: New England Patriots -7 -- Over/Under: 52.5 See the Latest Odds
The Indianapolis Colts travel to New England to play the Patriots in the Divisional Playoff Round on Saturday.
Andrew Luck's first visit to New England resulted in the worst defeat of his two-year career, a 59-24 beating at the hands of the Patriots in his rookie season. Luck appeared on the way to absorbing a defeat of similar magnitude a week ago, but he rallied the Indianapolis Colts from a 28-point second-half deficit to a stunning 45-44 victory over Kansas City in the opening round of the playoffs. The improbable win earned Luck a second crack at Tom Brady and host New England on Saturday night. Luck has amassed 11 wins in the fourth quarter and overtime in his first two seasons, the most in the NFL during that span, but now the Colts have to find a way to take down the winningest quarterback in postseason history. While Luck stole the headlines by leading five second-half touchdown drives and throwing for four TDs and a career-best 443 yards, second-year receiver T.Y. Hilton also had a coming-out party by hauling in 13 catches for 224 yards and a pair of scores in the second-biggest playoff comeback in league history. The onus will again be on the Luck-to-Hilton combination due to the absence of a consistent running game by Indianapolis, which has relied more on Donald Brown than early-season acquisition Trent Richardson, who fumbled on his lone carry last week. Another concern for the Colts is a defense that allowed a total of 20 points in winning the last three regular-season games but was shredded by a Kansas City offense that was without its top weapon in Jamaal Charles for the majority of the contest. Colts OLB Robert Mathis led the league with 19.5 sacks during the regular season and had a pivotal strip-sack in last week's victory.
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New England finished the regular season with a 12-4 record overall and won the AFC East division. Multiple injuries to Gronkowski and the departure of Wes Welker to free agency has left New England scrambling to pull together an effective passing attack and it's reflected in the numbers, Brady's 25 touchdown passes and 87.3 passer rating are his lowest since the 2006 season. Brady is 17-7 in the playoffs, which includes five trips to the Super Bowl and three championships, and guided New England to an 8-0 home record this season. Brady is working with a patchwork receiving corps that is missing TE Gronkowski, who caught two touchdown passes against the Colts last season. Brady, who is 11-3 at home in the postseason, needs three TD passes to surpass Brett Favre (44) for the second-highest total in playoff history. Converted college quarterback Julian Edelman helped fill the void with 105 receptions, nearly tripling his previous career high, and 1,056 yards, but the Patriots have shown an increasing reliance on sledgehammer running back LeGarrette Blount, who rambled for 265 yards and four touchdowns in the last two games. The defense, which lost Pro Bowl tackle Vince Wilfork and middle linebacker Jerod Mayo to season-ending injuries, suffered another blow when third-leading tackler Brandon Spikes was placed on injured reserve. The Patriots joined San Francisco as the only teams to win at least 10 games in 11 consecutive seasons.
The Colts should feel pretty good about themselves after their comeback win against Kansas City last week. However, with a comeback like that comes fatigue and a sense of relief. I know the Colts aren’t satisfied with one win in the playoffs, but the toll that game played on their minds and body will carry over to this game. Meanwhile, the Patriots will have had two weeks to prepare and rest for this game at home, where they play extremely well. I think New England will win another close game, something they are familiar with this season, but the Colts will cover the spread and keep things interesting.