The old rivalry of the Colts-Patriots is gone forever. The memory of Peyton Manning coming to town made it a week long event. 2003, 2004 and 2006 were playoff classics, and helped add to the storied past we now remember.
Tom Brady will face rookie Andrew Luck, who has led the Colts to a 6-3 record, and rides into Foxboro high on emotion, playing hard for their coach Chuck Pagano, who is on leave while in treatment for cancer. The Colt were not supposed to be good this year, however, they’re in the middle of the playoff hunt.
Our key pressure points:
Talib or not Talib, that is the question: New cornerback Aqib Talib makes his debut, and will get matched up with longtime Colt WR Reggie Wayne. Wayne has been resurgent in 2012, and Talib will get many chances to cover him. We'll get a good look at whether Talib is worth all the hype surrounding him.
Worst of Luck: The Patriots haven't had much success lately with rookie quarterbacks. However, they haven't lost to one at home since Kerry Collins in 1995.
McCourty feeling safe: Devin McCourty had a good game last week, forcing a fumble and getting the game ending interception. He did this playing safety, not cornerback, and it's becoming evident that being the last line of defense suits him much better.
Unwrap the Riddle: The Patriots have something in Stevan Ridley. In his second year, Ridley has broken out to become a prime time running back. His quick decisions and quicker cuts are getting chunks of yards in the Patriots’ new stretch run game. Indianapolis is fast on the edges, but soft up the middle on the defensive line. Expect Ridley to some good runs right up the gut.
The 4-2-5 goes bye bye: Bill Belichick has been playing this defense against the Colts for 6 years. However, Manning and his offense is gone, and Bruce Arians’ is now in effect. Arian was the offensive coordinator for the Pittsburg Steelers, and many are comparing Luck to ole Big Ben. Look for the Patriots to be more concerned with keeping Luck in the pocket and contained.
Patriots-Colts Injury Report
Doubtful: G Logan Mankins (ankle/calf), did not practice Friday.
Questionable: defensive tackle Ron Brace (elbow), safety Patrick Chung (shoulder/hamstring), guard Dan Connolly (back), safety Steve Gregory (hip), tight end Rob Gronkowski (hip), tight end Aaron Hernandez (ankle) and linebacker Dont’a Hightower (hamstring), wide receiver Brandon Lloyd (knee), offensive lineman Nick McDonald (shoulder), defensive end Trevor Scott (hamstring), linebacker Brandon Spikes (knee), offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer (back/knee), wide receiver Wes Welker (ankle), linebacker Tracy White (foot)
Probable: Wide receiver Julian Edelman (hand), defensive tackle Kyle Love (knee) and linebacker Jerod Mayo.
Out: cornerback Vontae Davis (knee) and tight end Coby Fleener (shoulder).
Probable: Running back Donald Brown (knee), nose tackle Josh Chapman (knee), offensive tackle Winston Justice (knee), linebacker Robert Mathis (back) and center Samson Satele (back).
Three and Out
Deion Branch released: the news dominated the later part of the day yesterday. Bill Belichick is up to his old ways of toying with his roster without any emotion whatsoever. Longtime favorite Deion Branch is without a job once again, the second time this season (counting right before week 1) he's been cut from the roster. WR Greg Salas is now looked on to give at least what Branch contributed, and truth be told, wasn't all that much to begin with. We'll see where this goes, but as usual, Branch is probably still in town and will be back at some point.
Out of nowhere, former Patriot and now Colts DB Darius Butler is now being talked about, in a good way. He had the game of his life last week vs. Jacksonville where he recovered a fumble and had two interceptions. Don't believe the hype, as Butler will now get his opportunity to get burned in Foxborough from another viewpoint.
Another former Pat, kicker Adam Vinatieri going to Canton? If Bill Belichick had his way, yes. “He’s certainly one of the greatest kickers I’ve ever seen since I’ve been in the league — the longevity, the production, the performance in championships and big games,” Belichick said. “What more could he do?