Jan 11, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Indianapolis Colts tight end Dwayne Allen (83) celebrates after a touchdown against the Denver Broncos in the 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Focus On Tight Ends, Not Wayne
The Patriots’ main focus in the secondary last time was to limit T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne, and let the Colts try and beat them with everybody else. This time around, I think the key will be erasing Hilton and the two tight ends, and let Hakeem Nicks, Donte Moncrief, and Wayne try to beat them in 1-on-1 matchups.
I looked at the tape of Wayne against the Broncos, and he just looked washed up. He couldn’t gain any separation, regardless of who was covering him. I honestly felt bad for Chris Harris at times, as he simply looked bored covering number 87. Hilton and the tight ends on the other hand? That’s a different story.
Kyle Arrington (with the help of Devin McCourty) took Hilton out back in November, so I would think the Pats try that again this week. For Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, we should see a mix of Brandon Browner, Jamie Collins, Patrick Chung, and even Darrelle Revis covering them, as they present problems matchup-wise. If the Pats devote their top resources to them, and Luck beats them with Nicks, Moncrief, and Wayne, then so be it. But I’m letting him go up and down the field with his top three guys.
Protect Brady, There Will Be Openings
If the Patriots can establish a powerful running game between the tackles (which I think they can do easily), Tom Brady should have a field day in the passing game. His offensive line held up beautifully against one of the best pass rushing units in the league last week, and they did it with virtually no running game. If they can replicate that performance against this front four, Brady will have plenty of time to pick Indy apart.
Vontae Davis is great, so I don’t think there will be much available when Brady looks to his side. However he isn’t Revis or Sherman, meaning Brandon LaFell and Julian Edelman should be able to get theirs as the game progresses. But I certainly don’t think Brady will be picking on him like he picked on Rashaad Melvin. Instead, number 12 needs to target the middle of the field, particularly those Colts’ safeties. Nobody can cover Rob Gronkowski, and this could be a Tim Wright game as well, as it is feasible to think Indianapolis will throw everything they have at stopping Gronk and Edelman.
Wright and Danny Amendola will have 1-on-1 opportunities, and they need to take advantage. This offense won’t look anything like they did last week against the Ravens, in that they will be looking to pound the ball often to set up play-action late. But when they do decide to drop back and pass, as long as Brady has time, the physical play of Gronk and LaFell, and the shiftiness of Edelman will prevail.