Indianapolis Colts (12-5) at New England Patriots (12-4)
(Saturday, CBS, 8:15 PM ET)
The AFC East Champion New England Patriots (12-4) host the AFC South Champion Indianapolis Colts (12-5) on Saturday night in an AFC Divisional Playoff game. The winner advances on to the AFC Championship
"The playoffs means it's a one-game season each week," says New England defensive end Rob Ninkovich. "You have to lay it all out there because if you don't win the game, you go home."
Brady has won 17 games in the playoffs, the most in NFL history, and has a 17-7 (.708) postseason record.
"When it comes down to it, the team that plays the best is going to win," says Brady. "In the playoffs, you're playing the best teams. When you play a good team, it's hard to beat a good team when you don't play your best."
The Colts advanced to the second round of the playoffs after a come-from-behind 45-44 victory at home against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Colts overcame a 28-point second-half deficit to post the second-largest comeback in NFL postseason history.
In that game, Indianapolis recorded a postseason franchise record 536 net yards, while the 45 points ranked second in team history. Quarterback Andrew Luck threw for 443 yards and four touchdowns, both of which were the second-highest postseason single-game totals in franchise history.
Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton caught 13 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns. His reception total tied for the second-most in NFL postseason history, while his receiving yardage ranked third. Hilton’s two receiving touchdowns tied a franchise record.
"Incredible, incredible victory," says Colts head coach Chuck Pagano. "A great team victory and one for the ages. Our guys are unbelievable. They stuck to the process and never doubted. We did just enough to advance in the tournament."
New England earned a first-round bye week in the playoffs after recording a 12-4 record and earning the AFC East Division title. New England has won at least 10 games for the 11th consecutive season, joining the San Francisco 49ers (1983-1998) as the only teams to accomplish the feat. The Patriots have a chance to advance to their third straight AFC Championship game. They can become the first team to advance to at least three straight Championship games since Philadelphia went to four straight from 2001 through 2004. They can become the first AFC team do to go three straight since Buffalo went to four straight AFC Championship Games from 1990 to 1993.
The Patriots finished the regular season with the third-ranked scoring offense (27.8 points/game), while ranking seventh in yards per game (384.5). Quarterback Tom Brady threw for 4,343 yards, 25 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and an 87.3 passer rating this year.
The Patriots lead the all-time series 45-28 in the regular season and 2-1 in the postseason, all three times the home team has won. That team has also gone on to win the Super Bowl. The Patriots and Colts last met Nov. 18, 2012 at Gillette Stadium with the Patriots pulling away with a 59-24 victory.
The Patriots and Colts faced each other in the playoffs following the 2003, 2004 and 2006 season. The Patriots beat the Colts in the 2003 AFC Championship game, 24-14, at Gillette Stadium on Jan. 18, 2004, won 20-3 against the Colts on Jan. 16, 2005 at Gillette Stadium in an AFC Divisional game and then lost in the 2006 AFC Championship Game, 38-34, on Jan. 21, 2007 at Indianapolis.
At home the Patriots are near invincible since 2002, winning more regular season and postseason games than any other team in the NFL. Since 2002, the Patriots are 81-15 at home in regular season games and 10-3 at home in post-season games for a combined 91-18 (.835) record. The Patriots have the highest point differential at home, rank first in points scored and third in points allowed at Gillette Stadium
The Patriots were a perfect 8-0 at home this regular season.
Pick against the Patriots in a home playoff game? I must be crazy. I'll admit I am -- at least, a little bit. With my mind I'm thinking Patriots win; but my gut keeps telling me Colts. Not at all a logical approach. But, how many of us took a break from the Colts' Wild Card game after they were down 38-10? I know I did.
So as illogical as it may seem, picking Andrew Luck and the Colts over the Patriots on the road in a tight game is the only logical thing to do at this point.
Yes, Luck had a career game last week. But for some reason, I don't expect a let down from him or the Colts. Instead, I'm expecting Luck to do something even better this week. .
But their is some logic worth considering. The Colts have played better on the road this season, while the Patriots haven't been as dominant at home. Yes, the Patriots were undefeated at home, but it's a soft 8-0 with wins against the Jets (13-10) Bucs (23-3), Saints (30-27), Dolphins (27-17), Steelers (55-31), Broncos (34-31 OT), Browns 27-26 and Bills (34-20).
The Patriots are a very good team, but they are not a dominant team. The Colts, on the other hand are good enough to beat this version of the Patriots. After all, Luck is on the Colts' side and its time for Tom Brady to pass the torch.
Expect the Colts to beat the Patriots in a close back-and-forth down-to-the wire game, 31-28.
AFC Divisional Preview: Colts at Patriots
Brian Billick previews the AFC Divisional Round Game between the Colts and Patriots
How the Colts Can Top the Patriots
SI.com's Andrew Perloff takes a look at the Colts' win over Chiefs and says if they can continue their playoff run against the New England Patriots.
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"Patriots Host Colts in AFC Divisional Round Matchup "