BOSTON (CBS) – Many fans in this region viewed last Saturdays’ Divisional Round tilt against Baltimore as the de facto AFC Championship game — even more so when the Colts beat Peyton Manning’s Broncos a day later.
And rightfully so, because quite frankly the Luck-led Colts haven’t had much success against the Patriots.
Luck is 0-3 against New England, getting outscored 144-66 in those three games, with the average margin of victory by the Patriots at 26 points.
In their most recent meeting, a Week 11 contest at Lucas Oil Stadium, running back Jonas Gray rushed for 201 yards and four touchdowns en route to a 42-20 Patriots victory.
For the Indianapolis perspective of the AFC Championship, 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich welcomed WTHR columnist Bob Kravitz to the show Wednesday morning.
Kravitz outlines how much the Colts have improved since their last meeting, even though he acknowledged it might not mean much in the end.
“[Colts] are a better team than they were a couple months ago, but I don’t know that it makes much difference. I think it’ll be a better game. I don’t think New England is going to batter them the way they have the past two playoff games,” said Kravitz. “I think it will be a better game.”
One of the reasons why Indianapolis has been unsuccessful against New England recently is the play of their quarterback, Andrew Luck. In Luck’s three meetings with the Patriots he’s thrown six touchdowns to eight interceptions.
Kravitz admits Luck is still prone to the “bonehead” play, but he’s getting better in regards to that.
“If you look at [Luck’s] interception reel and his fumble reel, it looks a lot like his touchdown reel,” said Kravitz. “Three-quarters of the time those efforts to sustain a play turn into something good, so I think the Colts are very much willing to put up with some of the excesses along the way.
“He’s going to make some mistakes, but he can’t do what he’s been doing against the Patriots — that much we know. But he’s getting smarter. He’s been throwing the ball away [more], and he seems more willing to take the incompletion and move on to the next play — but he’s got to do that against New England now. Because if they turn the ball over two or three times they’ve got no chance.”
Recent history between Patriots and Colts aside, New England didn’t exactly impress in their lone postseason game against Baltimore, and no team is without flaws.
Kravitz talked about some of the ways the Colts can beat the Patriots.
“They’ve got to take advantage of the tight ends. [Coby] Fleener was covered by Brandon Browner for most of the first game, and from what I remember he had a good game. I think that’s a matchup they need to take advantage of.
“Another thing they need to do is stay out of third-and-long. That’s one thing they failed to do against New England the first time; they were consistently in 3rd-and-8, 3rd-and-10. And that’s something they consistently did well against Denver because they were running the ball. Stay out of third-and-long and get that running game going.”
Toucher & Rich also had on Ben Volin of the Boston Globe Wednesday morning. Volin talked about the surging Colts, Bryan Stork, the decline of Peyton Manning and how Bill Belichick may have just changed the future of offensive football. All that and much more.
Tune in to Sunday’s AFC Championship game on WBZ-TV and 98.5 The Sports Hub — the flagship stations of the New England Patriots.
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