In week 11, two of the best teams in the AFC will meet on Sunday Night Football, as the New England Patriots visit the Indianapolis Colts. Both squads will be well rested after week 10 byes.
New England and Indianapolis have a great history with all of the Brady-versus-Manning lore. Manning is, of course, in Denver now, but his replacement, Andrew Luck, ensures that the Pats and Colts is still a marquee matchup.
In the lone meeting between Luck and Brady so far, the Colts lost to the the Pats in New England (43-22) in last year’s playoffs, marking a fourth straight win for the Patriots in the head-to-head series. The week 11 game will be the first meeting in Indianapolis since 2009.
LeGarrette Blount was the story of playoff showdown last year, as the former Patriot ran for four touchdowns. New England was also coming off of a bye in that game, while the Colts had to rally to eliminate Kansas City 45-44 in a wild Wild Card game. New England intercepted Andrew Luck four times in the win and, playing with the lead throughout the contest, were able to churn out 234 yards on the ground. New England went 11 for 18 on third down in the victory.
While New England’s season hit some rough waters in the early going, it has been smooth sailing of late. After losing at Miami 33-20 in their opener, and then beating Minnesota and Oakland, the Pats were destroyed by the Chiefs 41-14 in week 4. Since then, they have reeled off five straight wins by an average margin of 18.6 points. In week 9, the AFC-leading Broncos came to Foxborough and got throttled 43-21. The Pats are 2-2 on the road straight up and against the spread. While they have lost two of their last three games following a regular season bye, the Patriots have been great after a week off over the last decade, going 15-3 (including playoffs).
Much like the Patriots, things didn’t start well for the Colts this year. The Broncos beat Indianapolis 31-24 in week 1, and then Philadelphia won at Lucas Oil Stadium 30-27 in week 2. Week 3 marked a turning point, though, and Indy posted five straight Ws starting with a 44-17 thumping of the Jaguars and a similar 41-17 rout of the Titans. The Colts then faced some stiffer competition, but kept on winning, beating Baltimore 20-13, Houston 33-28, and Cincinnati 27-0. After losing in Pittsburgh 51-34 two weeks ago, Indianapolis bounced back to beat the Giants 40-24 in week 9. The Colts are an NFL best 7-2 against the spread including 3-1 at home. Under Chuck Pagano, Indy is 1-1 after a bye, but overall the Colts are 8-2 in their last 10 games after a rest week.
(Photo credit: Jack Newton (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jdn/10556799426/) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)