The Patriots got their much-needed bye week and like the rest of us, sat back and watched the Colts' improbable come-from-behind victory over the Chiefs during Saturday's wild-card game. Now, Indianapolis is headed to Gillette Stadium to face what should be a well-rested New England team in Saturday's AFC Divisional game.
On Sunday, coach Bill Belichick spoke with reporters about the challenges facing the Pats.
“Obviously, it was an exciting game yesterday, watching the Colts and Kansas City. It was a tremendous performance coming back in the second half," the coach said of the Colts' second-half performance that included overcoming a 28-point deficit.
"They did a really good job in all three areas of the game. It’s a team that is well-coached and had a real good season – beat two of the best teams in the league in both the AFC [Denver] and the NFC [Seattle and San Francisco]. We have gotten a little work done on them, but obviously have a lot more to do. We have a short week and have to gear it up and play our best football of the year to try to be competitive.”
Like New England, Indy's offense starts with the quarterback. Andrew Luck is in his second year but he's already one of the league's ten best passers. He showed that Saturday, remaining resilient despite three interceptions that would have doomed lesser souls.
With Reggie Wayne sidelined, the Colts' only true deep threat is T.Y. Hilton, who can outrun any defense, a reality the Chiefs became familiar with Saturday night. On the other side the of ball, 32-year-old outside linebacker Robert Mathis is playing at a Defensive Player of the Year level. He's a disruptive force who finished with 19.5 sacks during the season and had a critical strip-sack against the Chiefs that changed the momentum of the game.
The Pats and Colts didn't face off in the 2013 regular season but they did play in 2012. New England cruised to a 59-24 win on Nov. 18, 2012, dominating on offense, defense and special teams. But in football terms, 14 months might as well be 14 years. These are two completely different teams and as the wild-card weekend proved, anything can happen.