It became ‘funny’ or ‘clever’ to make the ‘Did you hear the Patriots-Colts are playing’ joke about 10 days ago. Which means it stopped being funny about nine days ago.
Yes, this game has been hyped more than any game this season, by far. Its being televised in about 99 percent of homes in the country. If you enjoy NFL football, you’ll be watching this game. I’d even argue that more people will watch this game than a few playoff games later this season.
But this game deserves the hype. Its impossible to be overhyped. I started thinking about watching this game after the Patriots beat the crap out of Dallas. That was like a month ago. The NFL has been around for about 90 years. NEVER have two undefeated teams played this late in the season. These two teams have combined for four of the last six titles. New England is 8-0 and have scored 34 or more points in every game. They have won every game by a minimum of 17 points. Their quarterback has 30 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Meanwhile, Indianapolis is the defending world champion and 7-0. They haven’t lost a game since just after Thanksgiving, 2006. In the last two weeks, the Colts have outscored Jacksonville and Carolina–two teams who would be in the playoffs if they started today–60-14. Both of those games were road games.
This has never happened before. So how can it be overhyped?
Here’s my preview:
Colts offense vs. Patriots defense: I think the Indianpolis offense gets a small advantage here, but that advantage is minimal, especially since Marvin Harrison is questionable, and if he does play–it will be his first game in almost a month. However, if there are any questions about this New England team, its on the defensive side. They’ve only given up 127 points, but solid offenses (Dallas, Cleveland) have performed relatively well against them. That might be because they really haven’t had to be at their best yet; the offense has been so dominant that the defense, while playing well, has been on cruise control. Mike Vrabel and the defense crushed Washington, but Peyton Manning is better than Jason Campbell. Slight edge–Indianapolis
Patriots offense vs. Colts defense: Let me first say that I greatly respect Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, Bob Sanders and the rest of the Colts defense. At this time last year, they were horrid and seen as the achilles heel of the team. An argument could be made now that they are a top-five defensive unit. They’re giving up just over 14 points per game, and since Sanders’ return late last year they have been stellar. But they haven’t seen what they are going to see Sunday. The Patriots’ offense is the best I’ve seen since the 1994 49ers or the 1999 Rams, and by the end of the year, it may be the best of all time. The offensive line has been absolutely dominant, and we all know the passing game, when given time, is literally unstoppable. How different is the New England receiving corps from last year’s AFC runner-up? Last year, the team’s leading receiver had just over 60 catches. He didn’t even make the team this year. Edge–New England
Prediction: Even though they are undefeated and at home, the only chance the Colts have is if they get some pressure on Brady. Freeney and Mathis are a huge key; if they can get to Brady a few times, or at the very least make Brady throw within a second or two of getting the snap, Indy has a chance. But I don’t see it happening.
All year, the Patriots have been running up the score, leaving Brady and the crew in the game up 40 with 8 minutes left, throwing jump balls to Moss late in a dominant win. Outside of maybe the Jets, who do the Patriots hate more than the Colts? No one. The Colts are a great team, and at home, they’ll get a boost. But that boost will disappear as soon as the Pats drive down the field to score their first touchdown. I honestly think the serious talk about New England being the best team of all time starts Sunday night.
New England 45, Indianapolis 21