The Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots renew their postseason rivalry, albeit with several different players, in Saturday night’s AFC Divisional Round matchup at Gillette Stadium.
The Colts are 1-2 all-time against the Patriots, with both losses coming on the road under former quarterback Peyton Manning. But current Colts quarterback Andrew Luck looked poised last week to end Indianapolis’s woes in the East.
Frigid temperatures greeted the Colts in the two losses, but Luck has the added benefit of more mild weather conditions, with the temperature hovering near 53-degrees with rain and wind near kick-off.
Indianapolis stormed back from a 28-point deficit in the third quarter last week against Kansas City, with Luck making up for his three costly interceptions with four touchdown passes and 443 yards. Receiver T.Y. Hilton made 13 catches for 224 yards and two scores, and running back Donald Brown compiled 102 total yards and two touchdowns from scrimmage.
Seeking its second trip to the AFC title game in the last three years, New England won five of its last six games to earn the conference’s No. 2 seed and a first-round bye, losing only on the road to Miami in Week 15, which cost them home-field advantage throughout.
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Several injuries to the Patriots receiving corps limited the offense at times during the regular season, with tight end Rob Gronkowski returning from back and forearm injuries only to be knocked out for the rest of the year with a blown out knee. Danny Amendola’s numerous injuries limited him to 12 games, and Tom Brady was forced to break in a new batch of receivers.
Brady ended the regular season with 4,343 passing yards and 25 touchdowns to 11 touchdowns, with fifth-year tight end Julian Edelman his top target with 105 receptions for 1,056 yards and six scores, nearly tripling his previous career-highs.
Two-time super bowl MVP Brady has actually gone 3-5 in his last eight postseason starts dating back to 2007’s championship loss to the New York Giants. However, New England was a perfect 8-0 at home this season.
The Patriots also go many as three-deep at running back, with Stevan Ridley and veteran LeGarrette Blount combining for 1,545 yards and 14 touchdowns, and Brandon Bolden chipping in another three scores. In the regular season finale, Blount ripped off a career-high 189 rushing yards and two touchdowns. It was Blount’s first 100-yard rushing game since 2011.
With Luck and Brady leading the offense this season, neither team will be comfortable with any lead. The Colts came back to win four games this season, including three in the fourth quarter. New England was down 24 points at half time to Denver earlier this season, only to score 31 unanswered points to force overtime and win 34-31 back in Week 12.
In terms of injuries, New England has ruled out receiver Aaron Dobson (foot), while cornerback Alfonso Dennard (knee/shoulder) and receiver Kenbrell Thompkins (hip) were both limited in practice this week and are questionable.
Indianapolis will only miss receiver Darius Heyward-Bey (hamstring), while safety LaRon Landry and linebacker Josh McNary are both probable despite concussions.
Betting Odds: New England -7.5
Over/Under: 52 points
Time: Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET
TV Channel: CBS
Live Online Stream Info: CBS Sports here
Prediction: New England 34, Indianapolis 20