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Old 10-30-2007, 12:14 PM   #1
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Default Colts Vs Patriots

By the numbers

• 5 Points by which the Patriots are favored Sunday. It's believed to be the first time a undefeated reigning Super Bowl champion has been an underdog at home, not counting season-opening games.
• 17.4 Average winning margin for the Colts this season. The closest an opponent has been is two points (Tennessee).
• 25.5 Average winning margin for the Patriots this season. The closest an opponent has been is 17 points (Cleveland).
• .540 Winning pct. of the Colts' opponents.
• .414 Winning pct. of the Patriots' opponents.
• 10th Meeting between quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Brady's Patriots won the first six, Manning's Colts the past three.

Technically, Tony Dungy was wrong. The circus isn't coming to Indianapolis.
But metaphorically speaking, the Indianapolis Colts coach was dead on.
Welcome to Patriots-Colts week. Sunday's battle of unbeatens at the RCA Dome is being billed as the next best thing to a Super Bowl, and it's rolling out the media welcome mat to prove it.
La Gazzette dello Sport, one of Italy's largest and most recognized daily magazines, will be on hand. So will La Presse and Le Journal de Montreal, a pair of French Canadian newspapers.
And, yes, the good ol' U.S. of A. will be well represented. The smorgasbord of New England media, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, the Dallas Morning-News and the Los Angeles Times all will be here. Crews from ESPN and the NFL Network already are. The dining area in the Dome press box is being converted to add more TVs and press seats. Two rooms in the Convention Center have been reserved for the overflow.
"We are in playoff mode,'' Colts vice president of public relations Craig Kelley said.
All for one regular-season game. On the first weekend of November, no less.
It's been building from the beginning of the season as the Colts and Patriots have moved, undeterred and unbeaten, toward the latest in their high-stakes rivalry.
The host is 7-0 and the defending Super Bowl champion. The visitor is 8-0, has won three of the past six Super Bowls, and has been beating opponents so thoroughly that some pundits are ranking it with the greatest teams of all time.
In a national conference call last week, Jim Nantz, CBS's lead announcer Sunday, said that if the Colts beat Carolina and the Patriots defeated Washington, "then we'll have this monster game, unlike any we have seen in some time in November, in a regular season.''
Game on.
There are themes aplenty, among them:
Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady. They're unquestionably the top two quarterbacks in the league, they've had classic meetings before, and this year there's the added factor of Brady chasing Manning's single-season record for touchdown passes. Manning had 49 in 2004. With an astounding 30 through eight games, Brady's on pace for 60.
Revenge . . . the other way around. In last year's AFC Championship Game, it was all about the Colts getting past their nemesis. They beat New England in that game, and have won three straight in the series.
Old rivalry, new faces. The Colts are getting good mileage out of three rookies -- offensive tackle Tony Ugoh, defensive tackle Ed Johnson and receiver Anthony Gonzalez. The Patriots restocked their roster with veterans during the offseason, most notably receivers Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Donte Stallworth and linebacker Adalius Thomas.
From a historical perspective, the NFL never has seen anything like it. The game marks the first time two unbeaten teams have met this late in a season.
Dungy isn't oblivious to the history, but he kept pounding home the present -- the real, factual present -- during his Monday afternoon news conference.
"The thing we've got to understand is it's a regular-season game,'' he said. "It's a big game . . . but it's still a regular-season game. What it will prove is who's the best team on Nov. 4.''
And that, he added, "doesn't guarantee you anything.''
The winner, though, will have a leg up in the pursuit for the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs. It also will be the team with an opportunity to join the 1972 Miami Dolphins as the NFL's only undefeated world champions.
But that's looking too far down the road. The here and now is intriguing enough.
"Like coach Dungy always says, these are the kind of games you do want to play in,'' Manning said after the Carolina victory.
A game billed by some as the biggest regular-season game in the NFL since, maybe, forever?
"Oh, I can't really make that statement,'' Manning said. "We've had a lot of big games around here.
"I know y'all don't like this answer, but I think they're all big. I really feel that way.''
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Old 10-31-2007, 10:52 PM   #2
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Default Re: Colts Vs Patriots

aside from all the hype (which the game should live up to), playoff implications, and overexposure, there are definitely some good talking points about the game itself. kirwan is doing a different piece each week on individual mathch ups, schemes, x's and o's etc.

him and tim ryan were only partially joking when saying the patriots red zone was once they crossed their OWN 20 yard line.

WARNING: these stats are disturbing:


Patriots easily feature the best long distance plan

The hype surrounding the Patriots can be tough to listen to every day of the week. Are they going 16-0? Are they the greatest offense of all time? Can anyone stop them? None of the hype really addresses the question of just how the Patriots could beat the Colts or vice versa.

It is opinion, which has it's place in a casual conversation. But I thought I might dig inside some of the accomplishments of these teams and compare the 2007 Patriots to the Indianapolis Colts each day this week. We all know they're both very good football teams; you don't even have to be a football fan to figure that out. But how good can they be in a game of evenly matched teams?

The first category I want to look is one of the more difficult measuring sticks, the LONG FIELD. How both teams produce when they start a possession inside their own 20-yard line and have to go more than 80 yards for a touchdown is no doubt going to surface in this game. Most teams can't score at all when given this assignment. In a game of this magnitude, even a field goal could be disastrous. The team that settles for field goals or punts -- or even worse, turns the ball over -- will lose.

On average, NFL teams will score a touchdown less than 15 percent of the time when a drive starts 80 or more yards away from the goal line. Last Sunday, in their final tune-ups before this matchup, the Patriots and Colts each had three opportunities to work the long field. The Patriots started series from their own 10-, 12-, and 15-yard lines and had to go 90, 88 and 85 yards if they wanted a TD. They succeeded 100 percent of the time.

Here's a breakdown:

Drive No. 1: Eight rushes for 45 yards; six passes for 45 yards … No passes to Randy Moss… Tom Brady ran it in for the score.

Drive No. 2: Six rushes for 25 yards; seven passes for 60 yards … No passes to Moss… Brady ran it in for the score.

Drive No. 3: Seven runs for 39 yards; seven passes for 69 yards … two passes to Moss … Brady ran for a first down… Brady 2-yard TD pass to Wes Welker.

Add up the yardage in drive No. 3 and you will see the 14 plays went 108 yards, as New England also overcame 20 yards in penalties. The total play selection for the three drives was 21 run plays and 20 pass plays, so they are fully balanced. Five different wide receivers and two tight ends were at the end of those 20 passes and four different runners contributed on the ground.

Tom Brady is better at leading drives of 80-plus yards than other quarterbacks are inside the red zone.

The most impressive aspect of the Patriots' long drives all season is the fact that they have had 14 possessions start inside the 20 and they have scored a touchdown 78.5 percent of the time. Keep in mind that the league is averaging about 13 percent in this category. The top teams in the NFL inside the red zone don't score touchdowns at this rate.

So how are the Colts doing in this area?

Last week against the Panthers, Indianapolis started drives on its own 2-, 13-, and 14-yard lines. They scored one touchdown, fumbled after 13 plays on another drive and punted the third time. One out of three (33.3 percent) is still better than the league average but pales in comparison to the Patriots. For the season, Indianapolis has started 12 drives from inside its own 20 and only produced two touchdowns. Their 16 percent success rate is just a hair over the league average. The Colts will have to improve in this area Sunday in the RCA Dome.

What makes the Patriots' ability to go long distance (11 of 14 attempts) even more impressive is how they stack up to the division leaders around the league. The other three AFC leaders are the Colts, Steelers, and Chiefs. Combined, they have gone the long field for a TD in 7 of 54 opportunities. The Patriots have them beat by four touchdowns in 40 less attempts. In the NFC, it is even more impressive. The Cowboys, Packers, Panthers and Seahawks sit atop their respective divisions and they have combined for just 11 touchdowns in 75 trips. New England matched their scores in 61 fewer chances.

The edge in the long field game belongs to New England.
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Old 11-04-2007, 05:26 PM   #3
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Default Re: Colts Vs Patriots

All this crap can be thrown out the window.
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Old 11-04-2007, 06:52 PM   #4
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Default Re: Colts Vs Patriots

It was definitely a good game. Great defense from both sides. I said at the start it's gonna come down to which offense makes the fewest mistakes.
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