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TALE OF THE TAPE

Week 11: New England Patriots Vs. Indianapolis Colts

Patriots
Colts
New England Patriots v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Indianapolis Colts v Pittsburgh Steelers
Quarterback
Winner Tom Brady continues to be an elite quarterback in the NFL. While he has been questioned when the New England defense gives up a late lead and he has not always been successful in regaining the lead. Brady reads defenses extremely well and he has a powerful arm. Brady has a razor-sharp 18-to-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Rookie Andrew Luck is a remarkable talent who has had to go through a very small adjustment period in his first year in the NFL. He is already a very effective leader. He has a strong arm, an excellent release and he is a very accurate passer. Luck has full confidence in himself and his teammates believe in him as well.
Offense
Winner The running game has been impressive for Bill Belichick this year. Stevan Ridley has rushed for 814 yards and is averaging an impressive 4.7 yards per carry. The Pats have a plethora of receiving options. Tight end Rob Gronkowski is probably Brady’s best receiving option, but never overlook Wes Welker even though he has dropped a few passes this season.
The Colts want to give Luck some help with a dependable running game, but that may be hard to manage against the Patriots, who rank 9th in run defense. Donald Brown is not a big name, but he is good enough to take some of the heat off Luck. Brown is averaging 4.1 yards per carry and has rushed for 361 yards. Wide receiver Reggie Wayne is having a sensational season with 69 catches for 931 yards and 3 TDs.
Defense
The Pats continue to give opponents big plays and yardage with their ineffective pass defense. Belichick is hoping that newcomer Aqib Talib will upgrade this area because he is much more talented than any of the Pats’ other cover men. Cornerback Devin McCourty saved the Week 10 win vs. Buffalo with a late interception. He has three picks this season. Linebacker Jerod Mayo has a team-high 91 tackles and he gets help from middle linebacker Brandon Spikes, who has 61 stops.
Winner The Colts are not the most talented defensive team, but they combine speed and aggressiveness and are somewhat effective. They rank 18th overall and they appear to be getting better after limiting the Jaguars to 10 points in Week 10. Robert Mathis is the team’s most effective pass rusher with 6.0 sacks, but don’t overlook Dwight Freeney even though he has just 2.0 sacks.
Special Teams
Winner The Patriots have plenty of confidence in Stephen Gostkowski and he has made 20-of-23 FG attempts, including 2-of-2 from 50 yards and beyond. Zoltan Mesko is an excellent directional punter who has dropped 19 of his 32 punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.
Adam Vinatieri may not be the kicker he once was during the height of his career. He has missed 6-of-24 field goal attempts and 3 of his misses have been on kicks of less than 40 yards. Pat McAfee is averaging 47.8 yards per punt and gets excellent height on his kicks.

The Winner Is

New England Patriots v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Winner Patriots
3 out of 4

It was always special when Peyton Manning would lead the Colts into New England; it should be just as special with Luck leading this overachieving team. The Pats would seemingly have the advantage because they are a veteran and talented team playing at home, but the Colts may be able to pull off a shocker.

MORE TALES OF THE TAPE

  1. KANSAS CITY, MP - JANUARY 15:  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks to throw a pass against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first quarter in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks to pass in the second half against the Houston Texans during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 14, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
    Conference Championship Tale: Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots

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  2. ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 15:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers drops back to pass during the first quarter against the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at AT&T Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 14:  Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons drops back to pass against the Seattle Seahawks during the game at the Georgia Dome on January 14, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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  3. GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 8:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers drops back to pass in the second quarter during the NFC Wild Card game against the New York Giants at Lambeau Field on January 8, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 26: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys throws against the Detroit Lions during the first half at AT&T Stadium on December 26, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
    Divisional Round Tale: Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys

    The Packers look to avenge a loss to the Cowboys in the regular season.

See All Tales of the Tape

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