Dec 29, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (13) runs with the ball after making a catch against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indianapolis defeats Jacksonville 30-10. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots vs. Indianapolis Colts: Three Matchups That Could Decide This Game

We are only two days away from the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts taking the field in the first of two AFC divisional matchups (grab your New England Patriots tickets now from PrimeSport) and I think we will be in for an awesome football game. Both of these teams will come out firing, and it will definitely come down to the wire.

Every single NFL game has a few matchups that alter the game’s result, and that no different in this playoff tilt. Here are three matchups that will have an impact on this game.

Oct 20, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis (98) reacts during the game against the Denver Broncos at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

1. Robert Mathis vs. Nate Solder/Marcus Cannon

This single matchup could really decide the outcome of this contest. The Colts defense isn’t very good, but Mathis is a guy that can hurt the opposing offense. He led the NFL in sacks this year, as he posted 19.5, and if he has to, he will try to win this game by himself. If Tom Brady has time in the pocket, he will find open receivers. The Colts secondary has been bad all year long, and even though the Pats offense is beat up, they will be able to win that particular matchup. But if Mathis gets to Brady, the complexion of this game will change. Brady will be skittish in the pocket, he won’t be able to pick apart the Indianapolis defense, and I guarantee there will be some New England turnovers. That is why Solder and Cannon must contain Mathis, because if he gets going, the Pats may not advance to the AFC Championship Game.

Nov 18, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; New England Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib (31) on the field in the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

2. T.Y. Hilton vs. Aqib Talib/Alfonzo Dennard/Kyle Arrington

Keeping Hilton under control is a huge key for the Patriots defense, but we don’t know how they will go about defending him. Aqib Talib is one of the best cornerbacks this league has to offer, but he has shown in the past that he struggles with smaller receivers, who can really turn on the jets. Bill Belichick has been known to take away your best offensive threat, and I think we should expect Hilton to have a quiet game this Saturday night. Kyle Arrington is probably the fastest defensive back the Pats have, although he has a reputation for getting burned on the outside. Alfonzo Dennard may be New England’s best man coverage player, which would lead us to believe that he could see some action defending Hilton. No matter what the Pats do, they have to make sure Hilton is under their watchful eye, because if you let him run wild in the secondary, the Colts offense will have a big day.

Dec 29, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount (29) runs past Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Stefan Charles (96) during the second quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

3. Pats Running Backs vs. Colts Front Seven

I personally don’t think that this matchup will be a close one, because the New England running game is currently on fire, while the Colts run defense has struggled all year long. LeGarrette Blount and Stevan Ridley do the heavy lifting for the Pats, as they pound away at the opposing defensive front, and then Shane Vereen comes into the ballgame on third down, where he becomes a dominant force in the passing game. Blount has been one of the best running backs in the NFL over the last few weeks, as his combination of power and speed is killer to the opposition. I think he will continue his torrid pace in this game, possibly even making a big contribution on special teams. If the Patriots can run the football, not only will they open up a lot of things for Brady and the passing game, but they will be able to score touchdowns when they get into the red zone, instead of settling for Stephen Gostkowski field goals.

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Tags: Alfonzo Dennard Aqib Talib Kyle Arrington LeGarrette Blount Marcus Cannon Nate Solder New England Patriots NFL Playoffs Robert Mathis Shane Vereen Stevan Ridley T.Y. Hilton

  • Paul V. Suffriti

    An effective running game is the answer to keep Mathis in check. I expect the Pats RBs and the offensive line to dominate and physically punish the Colts D-line. Brady should have a big game through the air (Vereen will have a huge day). Pats will total more than 500 yards of offense in this game…..200+ yards rushing and more than 300 yards through the air…..37-27 Pats.

    • Richard Hedrick

      Indy opponents – defense ranking:
      #1 Seattle – Beat
      #3 SF – Beat
      #7 Houston – Beat x2
      #15 Tennessee – Beat x2
      #22 Denver – Beat
      #23 KC – Beat x2

      Patriots #25….not worried.

      • Paul V. Suffriti

        It does not matter who the Colts have beat or how many times. You left out the X factor…Bill Bilichick and Tom Brady. BB is one of the best coaches at preparing and scheming against the strengths of the opponent. Brady is the master at reading and reacting to defensive formations and schemes. Brady will use the NO HUDDLE, not allowing the colts to make personnel changes, when his sees personnel on the field he can exploit…..sorry, Pats by 10 points. The X factor will be the difference.

        • Richard Hedrick

          It doesn’t matter?…hmmm. Funny how folks like you would spout off about strength of schedule and how badly you beat everyone when it suits your agenda but when you don’t have that to fall back on it’s the intangibles or “x-factors”. Fact is Indy went on the road and beat the NFC Champion 49ers and at the time beat the #1 (or #2) AFC Chiefs. In addition, beat #1 AFC Denver, #1 NFC Seattle and the Chiefs for a second time at home. What makes you think Indy is going to implode against the Pats? The Pats aren’t that intimidating after what we’ve gone through and who we’ve played this season. X factor means you can’t actually think of a reason they might win and you’re a homer.

          • Paul V. Suffriti

            Look…Bilichick has done an amazing job with the turnover of players and the staggering amount of key injuries during the course of the season. He is a master at putting together a game plan to take away the other team’s strength especially after halftime. Brady has done a lot with nothing this year. That is why they are the X-factor and the difference maker in this game…and by the way, I do not spout out about anything. I watch football, analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the matchups and post my opinion….that’s all….enjoy the game.

          • Richard Hedrick

            Two of the worst running defenses in the playoffs….difference, the Pats actually had a run offense to take advantage of it, Colts didn’t. Guess if I have to root for someone it will be Seattle.

            Will be back to talk smack next year!!

          • Paul V. Suffriti

            The Colts should be in the post season every year if Luck stays healthy….he has so much upside. If the Colts can add some talent on the D-line, they will definitely make some noise deep in the playoffs and maybe to the SB.

            Will be back next year to talk smack….for sure.

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