The Teams: New England Patriots (5-2) at Indianapolis Colts (3-4)
The Terms: Regular Season Week 9
The Place: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana
The Time: 8:15pm
The Channel: NBC
3 Burning Questions:
- Can the Patriots front seven continue to step up? It sounds like beating a dead horse, but as usual the outcome of this game relies mostly on the Patriots defensive front seven. Richard Seymour and Adalius Thomas played up to their expected level last week and caused havoc for the St. Louis Rams. We need more of that from those two as well as the other veteran ‘money’ players in the D-line and linebackers. Against a Colts offensive line which isn’t what it used to be, Joseph Addai not 100% and Peyton Manning looking like a mortal, look for both of those guys to have another good game, and don’t be surprised to see Mike Vrabel make a big play (INT, multiple sacks or fumble force/recovery). Jerod Mayo and Tedy Bruschi just need to keep the running game from making a big play.
- Will Kevin Faulk and BenJarvis Green-Ellis provide enough ground support? It’s incredible that the Patriots are 5-2. Just take a step back and think of how many other teams could lose their starting quarterback week 1, starting running back week 5, backup and third string runners week 6 and their defensive leader week 7 and still be tied for their division lead. It’s incredible. Anyways, Sammy Morris and Lamont Jordan are once again inactive for today’s game. Faulk ran well last week (13 carries, 60 yards) and needs a similar output today. No one is expecting 100 yards on the ground, it’s all about keeping the threat of a big running play in the back of the minds of the defenders. The Patriots offensive line has had troubles pass blocking, but rush blocking has been serviceable. The Colts rank 2nd best in the league in pass defense but 26th against the rush. Belichick knows these stats and I’m sure the Pats will make a conscious effort to pound the ball and control the clock.
- Can you believe how far this matchup has fallen in just 12 months? Last year’s matchup between the 7-0 Colts and the 8-0 Patriots felt like a playoff/Super Bowl atmosphere. I certainly was on the edge of my seat the whole game. Now fast forward to 2008 where Tom Brady is fighting a knee infection from ACL surgery and Peyton Manning still doesn’t look fully recovered from off season surgery. The Colts are 3-4 right now and already trail the mighty Tennessee Titans by four games in the AFC South. If the Patriots win tonight and so do the Titans, Indy’s playoff chances could be bleak unless they made some kind of incredible run. It doesn’t look like 9-7 will get a wild card this year in the AFC. There is a lot of pressure on the Colts to win tonight, especially because of their struggles at home so far this season. Both teams will come ready to play and even though their records don’t indicate it, it might still be a playoff atmosphere.
The Patriots have lost two ugly games so far and have some gritty wins. The Colts are just a couple of plays away from being 1-6. With the Colts at home and a depleted running back corps for the Patriots not predicted to expose the Colts major weakness, a lot of pundits are picking Indy. I think the Colts are an aging team (more so than the Patriots) and their confidence just isn’t there. If Manning makes a couple early mistakes the Patriots must pounce on them. This will end up being a defensive battle into the fourth quarter but I think the front seven of the Patriots are peaking at the right time, and Cassel showed he is maturing thanks to the late game-winning drive against the Rams.
Patriots 24, Colts 20
Tags: Adalius Thomas, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Bill Belichick, Jerod Mayo, Joseph Addai, Kevin Faulk, Matt Cassel, Mike Vrabel, Peyton Manning, Richard Seymour, Sammy Morris, Tedy Bruschi, Tom Brady