Nov 18, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) passes the ball to wide receiver Julian Edelman (11) against the Indianapolis Colts during the second quarter at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Indianapolis Colts 59-24. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

AFC Playoffs: Keys to Beating the New England Patriots

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.

**(Keys to Beating the Indianapolis Colts)**

The Patriots won yet another AFC East title under head coach Bill Belichick. With a 12-4 record, they secured a first round bye, and at least one home game for the AFC Playoffs. The Pats have been able to overcome the mass of injuries, and the complete overhaul of new offensive weapons, and now have a great opportunity in front of them.

Tom Brady had a slow start to the regular season, but was able to find a groove with his young offense. And when I say young, I mean young. The average age of the Patriots’ running backs is under 25, and the average age of Pats’ receivers/tight ends is 28. With plenty of rookies playing on both sides of the ball, it has been a different season than what Pats fans are used to. Any time you have Tom Brady as a quarterback, you have a chance to win the game. That being said, the Patriots are far from invincible.

The most well-known game plan for beating the New England Patriots is to get after Tom Brady. All of the teams that beat the Patriots this season kept the pressure on Brady all game, generated three or more sacks, and even more quarterback hits. Pressuring Brady has a lot to do with disguising your coverages on defense. Wait until the last second to show what you are doing so he cannot adjust and pick up a blitz. The offense runs through Tom Brady, so taking the offense out at the source is a solid strategy. Don’t let him get comfortable in the pocket, or he will eat you alive.

Keep their offense one-dimensional. In all of the Patriots losses this season, they have leaned heavily on their passing game, and have abandoned the run. Part of this is due to the fact that they are behind on the scoreboard, but all of the Pats’ losses have been one-possession games. They still had the opportunity to pound the run game, but chose to pass. In the four losses, New England has thrown 179 passes, and only had 85 rush attempts. That’s roughly 68% passes, to only 32% runs.

Tom Brady has had several game-winning drives this season, many of which came in dramatic fashion. If you plan to beat the Pats, you must work the clock effectively, which goes beyond time of possession. If you have the chance to run out the first half, or fourth quarter on offense, then do it. Do not give Brady another chance to beat you. Run the ball when you need to burn the clock, and don’t get greedy. Stick to your game plan.

**(Keys to Beating the Indianapolis Colts)**

(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)

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