When the season began, running back LeGarrette Blount was a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. But he was eventually released by the team late in the season for leaving the field too early at the end of a game and causing disruptions in the locker room.
Fast forward to Nov. 20, and the Patriots re-signed Blount, the same back that torched the Indianapolis Colts for 166 yards and four touchdowns in last year’s AFC Divisional round, which ended the Colts season.
Now Blount and the Patriots can once again knock the Colts out of the postseason, but this time it’s for a spot in the Super Bowl against either the Green Bay Packers or the defending champion Seattle Seahawks.
With their eighth appearance in the Super Bowl on the line, New England plays host to Indianapolis on Sunday night at Gillette Stadium.
Blount helped the Patriots overcome some injuries and poor play in the backfield, and while he was little used in last week’s 35-31 comeback win over Baltimore in the Divisional round, he could play a critical role against Indianapolis’ 18th ranked rushing defense.
Blount can certainly complement New England quarterback Tom Brady’s aerial display with tight end Rob Gronkowski and receiver Julian Edelman. In five regular season games in a New England uniform, Blount totaled 281 yards and three touchdowns. He only got three touches for one yard against Baltimore after New England fell behind early.
Brady threw for 367 yards and three touchdowns with one interception as the Patriots overcame two 14-point deficits to beat the Ravens and advance to their fourth straight AFC title game.
Gronkowski, who earned his second first-team All Pro selection this season, totaled seven receptions for 108 yards and a touchdown, while Edelman caught eight balls for 74 yards and threw a 51-yard touchdown bomb to receiver Danny Amendola that tied things up against the Ravens.
New England is favored by a touchdown over the Colts, but third-year Colts' quarterback Andrew Luck knows a thing or two about being an underdog.
Indy upset Peyton Manning and defending AFC champion Denver 24-13 on the road last week, a huge second playoff victory for Luck’s career. He threw for 265 yards and two touchdowns, connecting with tight end Dwayne Allen and receiver Hakeem Nicks.
Besides Luck’s solid play, the Colts also got a huge boost from running back Daniel "Boom" Herron. The third-year back rushed for 63 yards and a touchdown and led the team with eight receptions for 32 yards.
Herron will need to pull off a similar performance this week with running back Trent Richardson not making the trip to New England. Colts head coach Chuck Pagano started Herron over Richardson against Denver last week.
Why the former first-round pick and the Colts leading rusher in the regular season wouldn’t join his team for the conference title game is unclear, but the Colts official website reported Richardson was staying back for personal reasons.
Start Time: 6:40 P.M. ET
TV Channel: CBS
Betting Odds: New England -7
Over/Under: 54 points
Prediction: New England over Indianapolis, 33-24