TALE OF THE TAPE

Week 11: Indianapolis Colts At New England Patriots

Colts
Patriots
(Photo Credit: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
New England Patriots v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
(Photo Credit: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Quarterback
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.
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.
Offense
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 three TDs.
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.
Defense
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 six sacks, but don’t overlook Dwight Freeney even though he has just two sacks.
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.
Special Teams
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.
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.

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.

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