It's not your typical Colts-Patriots get-together primarily because the main antagonist (depending on your perception, of course), Peyton Manning, is now a member of the Broncos. New England had little trouble with Denver earlier this season but it did have the same feel as those old-school rivalries when Peyton was in Indy.
Truth be told, Sunday's matchup won't seem that way either … but it might. The Colts are one of the biggest surprises this season. After going 2-14 a year ago, they're 6-3 and currently in the mix for a playoff spot. It's unfathomable, frankly, given where they were just eight months ago. But in a league where the franchise quarterback is everything, Indy has one of the best in rookie Andrew Luck. Seriously, a year from now we could be comparing every other NFL QB to Luck. He has the potential to be that good.
But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves here. The Colts might be 6-3 now but there are seven games remaining, Luck will have to navigate the dreaded rookie wall and, oh yeah, the Pats are pretty good and have their own franchise quarterback.
"I think the things that we knew about (Luck) coming out (of college) have certainly played out this season," coach Bill Belichick told the media Tuesday. "Big kid, good arm, can make all the throws, very athletic, good movement in the pocket, handles the offense well. They do a lot of checking and changing plays and you can see him handling the offensive team in those situations, as well as end of the game-type situations where he's got to make good situational plays and decisions. He's done a good job in all of those things."
Typical Belichick-ian coach speak but even still you can detect a hint of admiration in what Luck and the Colts have been able to accomplish.
Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia acknowledged that while Luck's only nine games into his NFL career, he looks more like a grizzled vet.
"I certainly understand that he has the title of a rookie, but we're well into the season and he's played quite a few games in the NFL," Patricia said. "He's doing a good job of really handling that offense and running that offense and putting them in good situations to win football games. I think that's what you want to get out of your quarterback."
Patricia has been just as impressed with the Colts' offense.