New England Patriots vs. Indianapolis Colts: Five X-Factors


In breaking down this colossal matchup, we all know the key players that will have a big impact on the game. Tom Brady, Andrew Luck, Rob Gronkowski, T.Y. Hilton, Darrelle Revis, Vontae Davis. By the time this game comes to an end, these six players will have put their individual imprint on the outcome.

But what about the under-the-radar folks? In games of this magnitude, there are always a few players that nobody talked about heading into the game that may have a big hand in who advances to the Super Bowl.

Here are five under-the-radar guys that could be x-factors tomorrow night:

1. Brian Tyms

I think the Patriots are going to try to establish a running game early, which will open up a lot of play-action opportunities for Tom Brady. The usual suspects will undoubtedly feast: Edelman, LaFell, Gronk. But like they did early in the week 11 meeting, Brady may end up taking a deep shot to Tyms to try and take advantage of Indy’s aggressive man coverage.

2. Tim Wright

The forgotten man in New England’s attack, I have a feeling Wright will make a few big plays tomorrow against the Colts. Whether it be off of play-action, or simply taking advantage of a mismatch with a linebacker, Wright could come up huge in the biggest moment for this offense.

3. Punters and Kickers

How about some love for the special-teams? The forecast calls for some heavy rain as the game progresses, which will place a lot of pressure on the guys that use their feet. Whether it is Ryan Allen and Pat McAfee in the field-position game, or Adam Vinatieri and Stephen Gostkowski kicking field goals, heavy rain could have a big influence on what unfolds in this department. Whoever handles it the best may end up winning the game.

4. Jack Doyle

Indy has a monstrous duo at tight end in Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, but as Bill Belichick always does, I think he will take away at least one of these two in an effort to make the Colts beat the Pats with their third and fourth offensive weapons. And in the red zone, the Patriots should be aware of third tight end Jack Doyle. With so much attention on the likes of Fleener, Allen, Hilton, and Moncrief, Doyle could sneak into the end zone.

5. Akeem Ayers

Along with most of ‘Pats Nation’, I think not having Akeem Ayers on the field in certain situations has been a waste for the Patriots over the last few weeks. Ayers has proven he can get after the passer, and while I could see why he wasn’t on the field against the run-first Ravens last week, he should see some time against the pass-happy Colts tomorrow. On third and long, roll out Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, and Akeem Ayers all at once to give the Pats extra pass rushing prowess in key spots.