The New England Patriots (4-0) return to Lucas Oil Stadium to face the Indianapolis Colts (3-2) on Sunday night in a rematch of a game that sparked months of contention. The Patriots trounced the Colts in the AFC Championship, 45-7, but controversy ensued after the infamous Deflategate.
But Colts head coach Chuck Pagano insists that Deflategate is in the past, with his squad focused on winning an important Week-6 matchup.
“I really haven’t given it any thought to be honest with you for the past eight months,” Pagano said. “Our focus has been on this football team getting ready for our season.”
After originally being suspended four games and slated to return Week 6, Tom Brady appealed the decision and won. Meanwhile, Brady has been stellar this season, throwing 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions while completing 73 percent of his passes. He also leads the league in passer rating (121.5), with New England tops in average yards per game (423.8).
Brady has spread the wealth, as six different receivers have touchdown receptions this season, and Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski and Dion Lewis each have over 20 receptions. Edelman is eighth in the NFL with 34 catches, while Lewis is third in receptions (23) amongst running backs. Gronkowski is on pace for 16 touchdowns and 1,500 yards, and his fourth Pro Bowl selection.
The highly effective Patriots offense will be a tough test for a Colts' pass defense that has had its share of struggles. Indianapolis allows an average of 286.8 passing yards per game, the fifth worst in the league. The Colts rush defense has faired better at No. 19 (112 yards per game).
While Brady has been particularly effective, the Colts are hoping they can receive a boost from their own quarterback. Andrew Luck, who has missed the last two games with a shoulder injury, is listed as questionable after being limited in practice the last three days. Veteran backup Matt Hasselbeck has done a serviceable job in Luck's place, completing 63 percent of his throws, while tossing three touchdowns without an interception.
Luck may not be exactly thrilled to return from injury and face Bill Belichick’s defense. He has completed less than half of his passes, including a 12-for-33 performance in the AFC Championship, and is 0-4 against New England. He has turned the ball over 11 times while throwing for just six scores in two regular season games and two playoff contests against New England.
The Patriots defense is looking to maintain their steady play, having allowed just 406 total passing yards and 23 points. On the season, New England has the N0.12 defense, allowing an average of 342.5 yards per game.
The Colts are looking for their fourth consecutive win, while the Patriots hope for their first 5-0 start since their near-undefeated 2007 season.
Start Time: Sunday, 8:30 p.m.
Betting Odds: New England -9.5 points
Over/Under: 55 points
Live Stream: NBC Sports