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Patriots and Colts Ready for Next Chapter

Will the Patriots go run-heavy or look for Gronk to break the game open?

Terra’s Take on Colts at Patriots

On Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots will meet again with the AFC Championship on the line. This will be the fifth time that these two teams have faced off in the playoffs, and the third time that they have met in the Championship game. These two teams have played some great games over the years and it has developed into quite the nice rivalry. What most of the league doesn’t know is that the Colts and Patriots also  have one of the longer rivalries.

While this rivalry is one of the longer ones in the league, it didn’t really take off until the beginning of the new millennium. The rivalry of these two teams go back to 1970 when they were put in the same division. This was back when the Colts were still in Baltimore. The 1970s were the one time in this rivalry that the Colts slightly held the upper hand over New England, winning 11 of their 20 games. Baltimore began the 1980s winning four of the seven matchups, but when the Colts made the move to Indianapolis, New England started winning more.

Recently though the majority of the wins have gone to the Patriots.

Over the past 15 years, New England is 13-6 and has gone on to win the past five matchups. New England has outscored the Colts in these past five matchups by an average of 41-23. One of those matchups came last year in the playoffs when the Patriots ran all over the Colts as running back LeGarrette Blount had over 160 yards and four touchdowns. When the two teams met up again this season, this time in Indianapolis, Patriots rookie Jonas Gray ran for over 200 yards and four touchdowns. It seems the Patriots are pretty comfortable running the ball against the Colts and it should be a key to the game this year.

Luck is still looking for his first win against Brady.

Luck is still looking for his first win against Brady.

What really helped this rivalry was when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady arrived in New England. The games that he and Colts quarterback Peyton Manning would play became instant classics. This was a matchup that NFL fans were looking for as they didn’t really have a great quarterback battle that they could rely on year in and year out. Brady and Manning will go down as two of the best quarterbacks in the history of the league and this matchup really helped the NFL grow to where it is now. Brady is now a career 12-4 against the Colts, which has helped the Patriots build their all-time lead over the Colts to 49-29.

Even though the Indianapolis Colts no longer have Peyton Manning, they have perhaps the best young quarterback in the game in Andrew Luck. For Colts fans, Manning’s legacy was cemented with a win against New England that sent them to a Super Bowl and they’re hoping they can do that again. Andrew Luck has done a great job of taking the right steps in the progression of a quarterback. In his first year he took his team to the playoffs and was out in the first game, the second year he won one game and now in his third year he won two. Luck has struggled in his three games against the Patriots, so it will be important for Luck and the Colts to get off on the right foot.

Last time the Colts didn't defend the run or Gronk very well.

Last time the Colts didn’t defend the run or Gronk very well.

For the Patriots, Tom Brady will probably go down as the best playoff quarterback of all time. He has the record for most passing touchdowns and will end the game as the career leader in passing yards, but what really speaks to his legacy is the number of games he has played. Nobody has won more games than Brady has in the playoffs and no quarterback has made it to as many Championship Games, and Super Bowls if he wins. Brady has proven that he is the best when the games count the most and this would be another historic win for the Patriots as it would pad Brady’s records and Head Coach Bill Belichick would pass Tom Landry for most playoff wins with 21.

This is the third time that these two teams will meet in the AFC Championship game. The interesting thing about what happens in these two meetings is that the winner of the game has always gone on to win the Super Bowl. In 2004, the Patriots defense smothered Peyton Manning as he was sacked four times (one of them for a safety) and intercepted four times in a 24-14 victory for New England. They then went on to beat the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII. In 2007, Indianapolis overcame an 18 point deficit, the largest in a playoff game, and took the lead for the first time late in the fourth quarter and Brady threw an interception to end the game. Two weeks later, Indianapolis beat the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI for their first Super Bowl win since the move from Baltimore.

When these two teams face off on Sunday, the winner will get to go to the Super Bowl. When using history to try and predict the winner, the edge would have to go to the Patriots. They have had the better record as of late and especially over the last three games. Andrew Luck hasn’t been able to beat the New England Patriots and as a whole, the Colts struggle whenever they go to New England. History does like a good underdog though a win for the Colts would do a lot to elevate Andrew Luck to the rank of elite quarterbacks.

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