The New England Patriots beat the Baltimore Ravens in, perhaps, Gillette Stadium’s finest playoff game. The Ravens started the game hot. Joe Flacco led the Ravens to a 14 point lead, before Brady rallied the Patriots to knotted the score at 14 all. Just before the half, Brady threw a critical pick that led to a Raven’s touchdown. At half time, the Ravens led 21-14. In the second half, the Patriots abandoned the run and erased another 14 point deficit and tied the game at 28 all. After a Colts’ field goal, Brady responded by throwing a 23-yard touchdown pass to Brandon LaFell, which proved to be the game winner.
The Indianapolis Colts went in to Mile High Stadium and upset the heavily favored Denver Broncos. Peyton Manning was visibly hampered by a thigh injury, and as a result, overthrew several receivers. The Colts offensive-line negated two of the league premier pass-rushers in Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller. Andrew Luck threw for 265 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw two interceptions, but those interceptions were on long third-downs that, essentially, acted in place of a punt. The Colts’ defense only allowed Manning to throw for 211 yards and one touchdown.
Patriots Vs Colts AFC Championship Odds
Here are the odds from Betonline.ag
Colts +6.5 (-115)
Patriots -6.5 (-105)
Patriots: The Baltimore Ravens gave Bill Belichick and Tom Brady everything they could handle. The Patriots became the first team in NFL post-season history to erase two 14 point deficits. Their 14 total yards rushing is the fewest ever by a winning team. Early this season, the Patriots destroyed the Colts in Indianapolis. The Patriots rushed for 246 yards and four touchdowns. Jonas Gray rushed for 201 yards in that game, and has only played sparingly since. The return of Arthur Jones on the Colts defensive-line will help slow the Patriots rushing attack. In addition, the loss of Patriots’ center Brian Stork is a storyline to watch. The Patriots expect to slide right guard Ryan Wendell into the center spot and Josh Kline will play guard. The Patriots will certainly run it more than they did against the Ravens, but they will also test the Colts’ secondary. Look for the Patriots to run it early to set up play-action. The Patriots are known for being a “tricky and deceptive” team so expect them to run play out of unconventional formations.
Colts: Upsetting the Broncos is no easy feat. Even if Peyton Manning is not at 100%, the Broncos defense is fierce. T.Y. Hilton abused Broncos’ defensive-back Aqib Talib with his quickness. This week, Hilton will face Darrelle Revis. Against the Ravens, Revis struggled to cover Steve Smith, and as a result, drew two penalties. Hilton is a big-play maker for the Colts and Andrew Luck will look to expose that matchup. Another key to the game is turnovers. For the road team, it is extremely important to win the turnover battle. Last week, the Patriots only had one turnover, but on two other occasions, ball security was an issue. The Colts cannot afford to turn the ball over, either. Andrew Luck is known as a gun slinger and has forced passes before when facing the Patriots.
The key to this game is Colts running-back, Dan Herron. Against the Broncos, Herron had eight catches; the most by any Colts receiver. He also rushed for 63 yards on 23 carries and one touchdown. He is by no means a great running-back, but he gives them balance and fits their offensive system well. The Patriots need to find a way to eliminate his impact on the game. The Patriots will find a way to shut down the Colts rushing attack and make Luck one-dimensional. The Colts are a much improved team from earlier in the season, but so are the Patriots. The hardest matchups for the Patriots are Colts tight-ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener. The Patriots have struggled to defend tight-ends over the middle of the field. The Patriots will look to match defensive-back Brandon Browner or safety Patrick Chung against the two in one-on-one situations. While the Colts are heavy underdogs, they will manage to keep it close. Do not expect a defensive struggle in this game. The Patriots will win in a shootout and advance to the Super Bowl.
New England Patriots 38 Indianapolis Colts 24