Three Key Questions for the AFC Championship Game: New England Patriots vs Indianapolis Colts

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Nov 16, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) points while at the line of scrimmage against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots defeated the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday 35-31 in the AFC Divisional Round playoff game to earn a fourth consecutive trip to the AFC Championship Game.  On Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts and quarterback Andrew Luck defeated former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and the superstar-laden Denver Broncos 24-13 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. This sets up a rematch of the Sunday night week eleven match-up in Indianapolis won by New England 42-20 behind the Patriots’ 28 point second half.


Nov 16, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New England Patriots running back Jonas Gray (35) celebrates a first half score against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

In that game the Patriots introduced Jonas Gray to the NFL as the practice squad running back scored four touchdowns while rushing for 201 yards (all stats from unless otherwise noted). What was overlooked was that for three quarters it was a close game as it was just 14-10 New England at halftime and the Colts scored early in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to just one score at 28-20. New England utilized their rookie road-grading tackle Cameron Fleming as a sixth offensive lineman.
The Colts are coming off their best overall game of the season as their defense shut down the potent Denver offense and made future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning look ordinary. After the first drive of the game where the Broncos drove right down the field through the Colts defense, it was all Indianapolis as Luck led the offense on scoring drives against a stout Denver defense while his offensive line kept him upright. On defense, cornerback Vontae Davis showed why he is in the discussion for the best cornerbacks in the NFL right now and the Broncos saw drive after drive stall out.


Let’s look forward to three key questions heading into the AFC Championship Game. Going into the match-up on Sunday here is a look at the impact of the New England running game, the running ability of Andrew Luck, and how did the Colts transform their defense?