We are down to just eight teams remaining in the hunt for the Lombardi Trophy. This weekend features four Divisional playoff games, two on Saturday and two on Sunday. With the Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, Cincinnati Bengals, and Green Bay Packers already eliminated, there are only seven games remaining in these playoffs. It only takes three wins to be crowned champion.
The Indianapolis Colts have had yet another successful season. As a rookie last season, Luck took the Colts to an 11-5 record and Wild Card berth. This year, the Colts went 11-5 in Andrew Luck’s second season, but earned a division title. The transition from Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck went as smoothly as possible, and this team appears to be poised for sustained success. Last season, Indianapolis was ousted by the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. This post season could be better for the Colts.
The Colts have to be respected entering the AFC Playoffs, given the teams they defeated in the regular season. Indianapolis ended the Denver Broncos undefeated streak when they beat them 39-33 in week 7. That capped off a span where Indianapolis beat three playoff teams in five weeks: San Francisco, Seattle, and Denver. Just like the Denver game, the win against Seattle handed the Seahawks their first loss.
So the Colts can clearly win against good teams. Unfortunately for Indy, they have also lost to good teams throughout the season. The Dolphins, Chargers, Rams, Cardinals, and Bengals each beat the Colts. Will we see the Colts that ended undefeated streaks, or the Colts that lose to strong defenses?
The Colts have shown the ability to pass the football, as well as run it. They have a fast, talented, young receiving corps that can make plays. Donald Brown has stepped up in the wake of injuries to Ahmad Bradshaw and Vick Ballard, and has compensated for Trent Richardson’s inconsistent play. If you let the Colts gain momentum in both the pass and run game, you will have a tough time beating this team. Make their offense one-dimensional. In four of their five losses, the Colts have either not ran the ball well, or not passed the ball well.
Cover the top on passing plays. Whether it’s TY Hilton, Reggie Wayne, or Darrius Heyward-Bey, the Colts have shown the ability to blow the top off of a defense. It might mean bump in run coverage, or double teaming Hilton, but the Pats cannot allow the Colts to hit those 20+ yard passes, or they will be in for a long night. Thankfully for New England, their defensive backs are capable. Play conservative at the safety position, and force Indianapolis into short/medium length pass completions.
In their five losses this season, the Colts have allowed 663 yards rushing. That is 132 yards per game. If you find success in the rushing game, you can keep the Colts offense off the field and win the time of possession battle. Running the football also opens up the play-action passes, and keeps the Colts defense guessing. The Patriots have been dominating the run game lately, and Tom Brady is great at developing the play-action throughout the game. The weather in Foxborough could lead to another ground and pound type approach from Bill Belichick.
(Keys to Beating the Seattle Seahawks) (Keys to Beating the New Orleans Saints) (Keys to Beating the San Francisco 49ers) (Keys to Beating the San Diego Chargers) (Keys to Beating the Cincinnati Bengals) (Keys to Beating the Kansas City Chiefs) Keys to Beating the Philadelphia Eagles) (Keys to Beating the Green Bay Packers)