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
Here are my picks for championship weekend:
Patriots 31 Colts 20
I think this game is going to be a little lower scoring than some expect, mainly because I do not see this Patriots’ defense struggling like they did last week once again. They were one of the best units all year long, and it was shocking to see them look that bad in the divisional round. But Bill Belichick is one of, if not the best coach of all time, and he will have his defensive unit ready to go against Andrew Luck and company.
The Pats will not be blitzing all game long, but in key spots, look for Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower to come up the middle, and that will be a source of a few big plays for New England. I expect the Pats to focus on stopping Indy’s ground attack first, and force them to become one-dimensional, much like they were back in week 11. The Patriots also have favorable matchups in the secondary with Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, which will make Luck hold the ball a little longer than he would like.
On the other side of the ball, I believe this will be a LeGarrette Blount and Jonas Gray type of game. They probably won’t see 44 carries like the last time these two squads met, but there is no doubt in my mind the Pats are going to try to establish the running game early. Even with Bryan Stork out, the Pats have the advantage up front, especially if they decide to work Cameron Fleming into the mix again. Blount will probably be the lead back, but Gray should see a lot of time, because he is extremely explosive into the hole, which is what made him so effective back in November.
Setting up the run game will give Brady plenty of opportunities off play-action, where Rob Gronkowski should feast. The Colts have no solution to number 87, and he could have a huge game, especially in the red zone. The Pats need to turn red zone trips into touchdowns, and that is where Gronk is at his best.
Turnovers will be a deciding factor in this one, and I am counting on the Pats defense to bounce back, and force a few key turnovers late.