AFC South Game of the Week: Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots

The 6-3 plucky upstart Indianapolis Colts head to New England this Sunday for one of the best games of the weekend, and a defining test for this young Colts squad. Vegas originally had the Patriots pegged as nine point favorites, but it has been bet up to 10 points. I think that’s far too high, and not giving Andrew Luck nearly as much credit as he deserves. I’m not sure if the Colts can pull out the outright win, but they can (and will) come darn close. The reason is simple, and it’s the same reason the Patriots have been troubled all year: they simply cannot stop the pass. Combine that with the fact that they will be taking on a young, well-rested and confident Colts team, and you’ve got all the recipes for a nailbiting game in Foxborough.

Last week, the Colts thumped the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars 27-10, and seem to be building some confidence. That was also a Thursday night game, so they will head into this huge match against the Patriots with two days’ extra rest.

“This win was huge,” Luck said after the Jacksonville game. “We wanted to keep our winning streak going. Jacksonville got us earlier this year. We didn’t want to go 0-2 against a team. This is a good step in the right direction, but no one looks back at the fact that you were 6-3 in the middle of the season. It’s what we do at the end of the season.”

Through it all, Andrew Luck has had one of the best and most consistent offensive weapons in the league on his side: Reggie Wayne. The two lead the league in conversions (18), completions (20) and yards (302) on third down. They could and should make hay against a miserable Patriots secondary. (However, that secondary shouldn’t be as miserable as it has been; Aqib Talib, the former Buccaneer, will come off of his two-game Adderall suspension for this game.) They’re going to need all the help they can get, because the Patriots have been getting lit up through the air, never worse than in a narrow 37-31 win over the putrid Buffalo Bills last weekend. Ryan Fitzpatrick and the bills racked up an astounding 481 yards of offense against the Pats. If Fitzpatrick can do that, what do you think Luck will be able to do? Here are some more sobering stats about the Patriots defense against the Bills, courtesy of ESPN: “The Patriots allowed 187 yards after the catch on Sunday, matching their highest total of the season (against the Bills on Sept. 30), according to ESPN’s Stats & Information tracking. They also allowed 40 rushing yards after initial contact, 12.5 yards over their season average.”

After the Bills game, defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said all he and his teammates have to do is believe.

“I saw that guys believed,” said defensive lineman Vince Wilfork after the game. “That’s the main thing. When you get a team to believe that you can do whatever you set your mind to do, that team is unstoppable. With this defense, when I said what I had to say, I saw guys believing and we went out and made the plays.”

However, that simply isn’t the case. Mere belief isn’t going to stop Andrew Luck from running wild on Sunday. Yes, I think the Patriots will win. Their offense is too prolific, and it’s not as if the Colts defense is any great shakes, either. However, Luck will keep it more than uncomfortably close for Patriots fans. If you’re betting, take the Colts and the points here.

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