NFL Divisional round: Indianapolis Colts face New England Patriots at Foxborough

By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH.   Last Updated: 11/01/14 8:38pm

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The Indianapolis Colts will ride their rollercoaster of a play-off run on to New England on Saturday night but, after staging one of the greatest ever play-off comebacks, can they use that momentum to see-off the Patriots in their own back yard?

New England grabbed yet another play-off bye this year, but have suffered massive injury problems, and Tom Brady has had to work for almost every single win. He is 17-7 in the play-offs but 3-5 since 2008 and now has to cut down the flying Colts.

Comeback kings

In just 34 NFL games, Luck already has 11 game-winning drives under his belt, and last week's 28-point comeback was the fourth double-digit deficit they've managed to overcome this season, illustrating this team will always have belief whilst Luck is on the field - and that makes them a dangerous animal.

Brady is no stranger to a comeback win though, with 31 fourth-quarter comebacks and 42 game-winning drives on his CV. They came from 24-0 down at half-time to beat Peyton Manning's Broncos in Week 12, so whatever the score gets to in this one there won't be many early match reports written, just in case.

Master v apprentice

Luck has been so good it's sometimes easy to forget this is just his second season in the NFL! Not only does he wear Brady's No 12 jersey, but he shares a lot of Tom Terrific's character traits - the best being his ability to win games for his team.

They are both fierce competitors, never know when they are beaten and demand the best from their teams. Luck is also showing this season he can get the best out of young, unknown receivers after Reggie Wayne got injured - and it will be fascinating to see how he gets on against the great man with another year's experience.

Brady under pressure

Keeping their star man on his feet will be a priority for a Patriots offensive line that has given up 40 sacks this season - Brady's most since his first full season in 2001. Just giving him time will be enough as he'll fancy his chances against a Colts secondary that was ripped apart by Alex Smith to the tune of 378 yards and four TDs last week.

Robert Mathis will be the main danger after 19.5 sacks in the season and one last week, so containing him will be the priority, but another good defence for Brady is the running game which is performing well led by LeGarrette Blount - with the Colts ranking only 26th against the run.

TY down Hilton

Both teams are without their first-choice receiving target, so speedy second-year man TY Hilton is the star attraction after his franchise record 224-yard game against the Chiefs. He had 100 yards and two TDs in last year's meeting between the two, which the Pats won convincingly.

Aqib Talib is by far the Pats' best cover cornerback, and he will be assigned the task of shutting Hilton down, but he is dealing with a hip injury and the secondary is pretty thin behind him - so that will be one of the biggest match-ups to watch.

Behind enemy lines

The Colts picked up veteran wide receiver Deion Branch this week to 'add some depth' to their squad. Don't believe that for a second! Yes, Darrius Heyward-Bey did suffer a hamstring, but Indy have plenty of options at wide out and would need some awful luck to be forced to call Branch in off the bench.

The fact Branch played for the Patriots for seven seasons, went to three Super Bowls and has caught more passes from Tom Brady than anyone not named Wes Welker is the real reason. The offence is not what it was while he was at Foxborough, but play-off games are often decided by fine margins and if he can give the team any extra insight into Brady then you bet the Colts will take it.


They may have Luck, they may have confidence and they may be on a roll, but you'll not find many backing against Tom Brady, at home, in the play-offs, after a bye week - even if this isn't a vintage crop of Patriots.

Watch the Colts take on the Patriots live on Sky Sports 3HD from 1am on Sunday

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