Recent history says the winner of Saturday’s Colts at Patriots game will win the Super Bowl. So that’s potential good news for New England, which is the opening 7.5-point Bovada favorite for the AFC Divisional Round game with Live Betting available.
New England has won two of the previous three playoff matchups with Indianapolis, but those were all against Peyton Manning, whom the Pats could see next week in Denver. Now it’s Andrew Luck‘s turn against the Patriots, and there’s probably no young quarterback in the NFL as similar to Manning in terms of poise and football smarts.
This won’t be Luck’s first rodeo against the Patriots. In Week 11 last season in Foxboro, Luck suffered the worst defeat of his NFL career, 59-24. Indianapolis led 14-7 entering the second quarter off a Luck 14-yard touchdown pass to T.Y. Hilton, before the Pats scored on a Julian Edelman 68-yard punt return and Aqib Talib 59-yard interception return. It was only a 24-17 Patriots lead at the half before they blew the Colts’ doors off after intermission.
Luck completed 27 of 50 passes for 334 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. He had a second pick returned for a score in the fourth quarter, an 87-yarder by Alfonzo Dennard. The Colts outgained the Pats and held the ball for nearly six minutes more but turned it over four times, while New England didn’t give it up once. Tom Brady threw for 331 yards and three TDs. That was the game in which Rob Gronkowski broke his forearm.
In Luck’s first playoff start last season, he wasn’t great, going 28 of 54 for 288 yards and an interception in a 24-9 loss at Baltimore. However, Luck’s second postseason start was very memorable.
Last Saturday against the visiting Chiefs, with Indy a 1.5-point underdog, Luck led the Colts back from a 38-10 second-half deficit to a wild 45-44 victory. It was the second-largest comeback win in NFL postseason history. Luck was shaky early, but Kansas City couldn’t stop him in the second half. He finished with a franchise-record 443 yards passing with four touchdowns and three interceptions. Luck also recovered a fumble for a touchdown.
Luck’s favorite target, and a guy the Patriots will no doubt focus on defensively (with Talib), was Hilton. He caught 13 passes for 224 yards (third most in playoff history) and two touchdowns. The Colts became the first team in NFL history to win a playoff game when allowing 40 points and committing four turnovers.
What should worry Patriots fans is that the Colts generally have played their best against the NFL’s top contenders. They won 27-7 in San Francisco on Sept. 22. Indianapolis beat visiting Seattle 34-28 on Oct. 6. The Colts handed Denver its first loss of the season, 39-33 in Week 7 in Manning’s return to Indy. And last weekend was the Colts’ second win over the Chiefs this season. When Indy plays bad, it’s usually really bad: a 19-9 loss at San Diego, a 38-8 home loss to St. Louis, a 40-11 setback at Arizona and a 42-28 defeat at Cincinnati. The running game struggled in all.