Colts vs. Patriots: Breaking Down Indianapolis’ Game Plan

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Once again, a Indianapolis Colts are underdogs on a road. 

In 2012, a Colts went to Baltimore for a wild-card playoff game. They mislaid 24-9. 

In 2013, a Colts went to New England for a local playoff game. They mislaid 43-22. 

In 2014, a Colts went to Denver for a local playoff game. This time, they won, pulling off a 24-13 dissapoint with vigourous play on both sides of a ball.

Now, a Colts wish to continue that strain in New England, where they haven’t won given 2006 (ironically, a year a Colts final won a Super Bowl). They are underdogs, sure, and have a lot operative opposite them deliberation New England’s 42-20 win in Indianapolis in November. 

But don’t tell that to a Colts, who usually pulled off a biggest dissapoint in organisation story by violence Peyton Manning on his home turf. This Colts organisation was ostensible to be a AFC’s many expected to go one-and-done, and now, they’re in a AFC Championship Game. 

Anything can occur in a playoffs. 

In sequence for this anticipation float to continue, however, a Colts have to go into Foxborough and kick a AFC’s best. How can they equivocate a repeat of final season’s playoff loss? Or even this year’s regular-season embarrassment? 

 

Offense: A Balancing Act

Last week, I wrote about how while a Colts indispensable to take some of a vigour off of Luck’s shoulders, they couldn’t rubbish too many plays opposite a Denver Broncos‘ vigourous run defense.

Well, a Colts did try to run a ball, and while a Broncos hold a Colts to usually 3.5 yards per carry, they were successful on over 41 percent percent of their runs, that would arrange around joining average, according to Advanced Football Analytics

The Colts don’t need to be a grind-it-out football team; in fact, they can’t. But if they can get a few successful runs early, they can keep a invulnerability off balance, that is what they did on Sunday.

After throwing it 11 times and not regulating it during all on a initial dual drives of a game, a Colts ran a round 5 times for 19 yards on a third drive, heading to a team’s initial touchdown. Then Luck was means to take advantage in play action. In fact, all 3 of Luck’s touchdown passes in a postseason have come off play action. 

Against a Patriots, a Colts have to equivocate a imbalance that occurred in a final matchup, when a Colts regulating backs ran 13 times for usually 4 yards. Meanwhile, Andrew Luck forsaken behind 43 times. 

Fortunately for Indianapolis, a Colts run diversion has been some-more successful as of late and a New England run invulnerability has shown weakness. 

Colts Run Game

Game
Total Yards
Average
Success Rate
CIN (Wild Card)
114
4.6
40.0%
DEN (Divisional)
99
3.5
41.4%
Regular Season
100.8
3.9
44.3%
NE (Week 11)
19
1.2
29.4%

Advanced Football Analytics

The Baltimore Ravens‘ Justin Forsett ran a round 24 times for 129 yards on Saturday, picking adult a healthy 5.4-yard average. While a Colts aren’t a same hazard on a ground, Dan “Boom” Herron and a revamped descent line has given a offense a boost—and will need to again Sunday to keep Luck from carrying to force throws on prolonged third downs.

 

Offense: Test a New England Safeties

Fans should know all about a Patriots’ gifted delegate by now, with Devin McCourty and Darrelle Revis being among a league’s best during reserve and cornerback, respectively, and a surrounding pieces (Brandon Browner, Patrick Chung, Kyle Arrington) operative good in their particular roles. 

The Colts will need to conflict that organisation with a resources of weapons, strenuous a New England delegate with mixed low threats and versatile descent sets. 

One approach a Colts can get large plays opposite a Patriots delegate is by forcing McCourty to select in single-high sets. With T.Y. Hilton, Coby Fleener and Donte Moncrief all possessing a ability to widen a invulnerability vertically, a Colts can mix dual or 3 low routes to put him in a bind.

The Patriots will expected have clever reserve Patrick Chung and inside linebacker Jamie Collins focused on dump-offs to a regulating behind and parsimonious ends Dwayne Allen and Jack Doyle, given a Colts have used those so heavily in a initial dual rounds of a playoffs. 

This should open adult room in a center of a margin for Coby Fleener, or adult a sidelines for Hilton or Moncrief if McCourty sticks to a center zones. 

Bill Belichick and a Patriots are certain to have something special baked adult for Luck and a Colts, though if a descent line can continue to give Luck time in a pocket, a Colts should have adequate weapons to overcome a Patriots down a field. 

 

Defense: Don’t Get Run Over

If there is one thing a Colts can’t concede in this game, it’s a repeat of a final dual matchups, in that a Colts have given adult an normal of 240 rushing yards and 5 rushing touchdowns. 

That’s an average over dual games. 

That kind of invulnerability creates it near-impossible to win games. Not usually does it rubbish time and keep Luck off a field, though it wears a invulnerability down and creates for a prolonged second half. Just ask a Colts, who authorised a Patriots to measure touchdowns on their initial 4 drives of a second half and afterwards grub a final 4:17 off a time in a fifth and final drive.

If a Colts can stop a regulating game, or during slightest delayed it down and minimize a large plays, they can force Tom Brady to chuck a round on third down. The Colts have indeed been really good on third down in a postseason, permitting opponents to modify on usually 33.3 percent of their third- or fourth-down attempts, a best symbol of any organisation in a postseason. 

Granted, Brady expected will be means to chuck a round improved than Andy Dalton or a gimpy Peyton Manning, though a Colts delegate has been personification lights-out to start a postseason and was means to prevent Brady twice in a dual teams’ initial matchup.

 

Defense: Make Brady Think Outside a Box

Speaking of Brady, a Colts have to take divided his bread and butter: a center of a field. 

With Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman as his categorical targets, Brady loves to go to a center of a field, either it’s on channel routes or adult a seam. The Colts need to make this area of a margin as undiluted as probable in an try to lure Brady into throwing a round prolonged and outside, his biggest weakness. 

This means that instead of their common male coverage, a Colts might have to work in a few some-more section coverages on Sunday, generally by blending in Cover 3 and buliding coverages. 

By regulating Cover 3, a Colts can keep their cornerbacks from carrying to follow receivers opposite a field, instead tying them to range routes that they generally surpass during covering. Unfortunately, this can open adult room for Gronkowski to get auspicious matchups adult a join if a reserve isn’t disciplined.

In quarters, a use of dual low safeties covering a seams can assistance keep Gronkowski from anticipating room to operate, though opens a Colts adult to underneath routes. 

Make no mistake, a Colts will have to play man, as that is their bottom invulnerability and a one that a delegate is many gentle in. In those cases, a Colts linebackers will need to be wakeful of picks and massage plays and be prepared to pierce fast by trade to regulating backs or parsimonious ends leaking out in a flats. 

Brady is during his best when he can lay in a slot and strike his receivers for brief gains play after play. The Colts can’t concede giveaway releases over a center of a margin where Brady can dink and asperse them to death. That might meant spasmodic being exposed to large plays, though we would rather exam Brady’s low correctness than his discerning trigger and brief accuracy. 

Great teams take divided their opponents’ strengths. The Patriots have finished that opposite a Colts in new matchups, now it’s time a Colts flipped a script.

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