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These aren't the same Colts

Join my chat every Monday to have your question considered for the weekly Bruschi on Tap Q&A.

Q. Sup Bru! I bet as a player this was your favorite time of year to play football. This is the stuff that goes into history. Anyways, people are celebrating the Broncos losing like this means the Pats are shoe-ins to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Do you think it's fair for people to react this way or do the Colts deserve more respect despite the Patriots soundly handling them in the Luck era? The final four are there for a reason. -- Chris L. (Atlanta)

A. I want everybody to think of it this way: They aren't the team that you saw Nov. 16; they are the team you saw Sunday night. Based on that, how do you think this game will go? What I saw was an OL from the Colts that was able to protect Andrew Luck against better rushers than the Patriots have. I saw a defensive secondary that played man coverage very well. I do not put Julius Thomas on the same level as Rob Gronkowski; he's more of a big receiver at times. Once again, Gronk will be a problem, but this game will not be a gimme. What you saw in this game against the Broncos was a true passing of the torch, in my opinion. Peyton Manning is on his way out, and Andrew Luck is on his way up.

Q. Hey Bru, you called it with your prediction that the mental and physical toughness of this team will show up for the win against the Ravens. My question is about running against the Colts: with DT Arthur Jones back, do you think the Pats will stick to the ground game hard like they have the past two wins against Indy? I think a more balanced approach with heavy play action is what we'll see. -- Jamai (Hoover, Alabama)

A. Jamal, you're right. This is a different Colts team than we saw earlier this year. A big difference is having Jones back and also the potential subtraction of center Bryan Stork. Of course, the Patriots will be secretive on the Stork injury, but watching it again this morning it looked bad. The good thing is that Stork had a knee brace on, which might have protected him from serious injury. But his availability for the next two games is in question.

The prior Patriots-Colts matchup, the New England OL was at full strength -- Solder-Connolly-Stork-Wendell-Vollmer. When Josh Kline is in there as a replacement on the inside, there is more penetration in the run game and more pressure in the pocket. This is a big injury to Stork.

Q. What's up Bru?! The Colts are not the Ravens, and last time is not this time, we shouldn't take them lightly. So what do you see are some differences we may see going from the last time we played them, into this game? Thanks! -- Mike (Lehigh Acres, Florida)

A. Yes, Mike, I want everyone to know out there that these are two different teams. There are critical players that are there now that weren't there on Nov. 16. I, too, remember like everyone else how the Patriots were able to run the football. In terms of things being different this time around, the coaches will still attempt to see if those weaknesses are still there.

Q. Hey Bru! I know the Pats like to change things up offensively, but after such a dominating performance earlier this season, do you think the power run game is "plan A" this week? -- Nick (Denver)

A. This is the thing I know about this coaching staff: If they think that you think you know what they're going to do, they'll want to come out with something else. "They think this, so we're going to do that." You saw a little bit of it Saturday with the formations and trick plays. This coaching staff has been known in the past to out-think themselves. I hope they keep it simple, too, this week. You have to see if the Colts have solved their run-D problems versus the Patriots.

Q. Aside from Arthur Jones being back, do you see any differences between the Colts' defense of Week 11 and their defense now? Also, should the Pats attack them the same way they did in Week 11? The Colts were glued to the Broncos' receivers and stopped the run pretty well in the second half. I'm curious if that has more to do with the way they are playing or the Broncos' offense slacking. -- Zakariah (Lynn, Massachusetts)

A. There were a couple of things that shocked me over the weekend -- Julian Edelman recovering the fumble, and the other was how Andrew Luck wasn't sacked once. You have Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware coming off the edge, and I thought that OL was going to get eaten alive. If the Patriots can't get pressure, that gives the Colts a fighting chance. Luck has been a turnover machine this year; only one QB has turned it over more than him and that's Jay Cutler. When you think of the best quarterbacks in the game, you don't mention them in the same sentence as Cutler. I know Luck threw two INTs on Sunday, but basically those were long punts. This is one of the top-scoring offenses in the NFL. The Patriots are going to have to get to Andrew Luck and get pressure on him.

Q. Hey Tedy! Big fan of yours from Brazil! On to Indy then... I think our D did a great job against the Colts receivers in November, but I am concerned about how we will match up against TE Coby Fleener, as he had a great game. Brandon Browner was against him for most of that game. Do you think we keep it that way? Maybe a little help from Jamie Collins or Patrick Chung? Thanks! -- Dan B. (Dourados, Brazil)

A. Not just Fleener, but I think another big difference from the Nov. 16 game to now is that Colts TE Dwayne Allen had an early injury in the game. Both coaches talked about adjustments made during the game, and I think it was tied to Allen. I see Allen as the better tight end than Coby Fleener; he's a really good player. So they're going to have to deal with two tight ends -- Fleener and Allen. It's been Collins and Chung a lot of the time on opposing tight ends, especially the ones who can line up in the backfield and do multiple things, and that's what Allen does.

Q. Hey Tedy! Longtime fan, but this is my first time writing in. How big of a factor do you think rematch games are when the first was a blowout? In 2010, the Jets beat the Pats in the playoffs despite a trouncing by the Pats earlier in the year. Teams in the situation the Colts are in often have something to prove and have already seen the best matchup possible. How much of a factor do you think this is? -- Jack (Brookline, Massachusetts)

A. This is a great question because emotions and mentalities are absolutely a factor in winning football games, especially in the playoffs. I remember losing to the Steelers in 2004 (Halloween); they beat us up pretty good; and we went back for the AFC title game and won. Like you mentioned, Jack, the Jets did it to the Patriots in 2010. Let me ask you this question: How hard is it to get up for an opponent that you've already beat, and beat badly?

Q. Tedy, my question is about our side of the ball on D. Do you think what really makes Revis one of the best is not just his cover skills (technique) but his mentality through a game? I just saw him do really a fantastic job on Steve Smith and call it his worst game, but if it's his worst I'll take it any day of the week. -- Andy (North Dakota)

A. Steve Smith got the better of Revis at times in the game. Smith isn't scared of anyone -- he doesn't care what your name is or what you've done in the past. The touchdown was, "Get out of my way, I'm going inside" as he used his left arm to force Revis outside as Smith went inside. Revis isn't perfect. He's one of the best in the game, don't get me wrong, but he can be beat. If you have a receiver that mainly has the guts like Steve Smith, you can win a fight against the best once in a while.

Q. Julian Edelman fumbled in the midst of four Ravens defenders and managed to recover the fumble. I felt like that showed the size of the fight in that dog. Do you consider that to be his biggest impact play of the game? -- Jim (Plymouth)

A. It was one of the most crucial plays in the game. The Patriots were down by seven, on their own side of the field, and Edelman fumbles on the 43. If he doesn't get the ball -- it could have been 21-7 or 17-7. I literally was watching that game and said to my family, "It would be amazing if he comes out with that." People, you don't know what goes on down there in those piles. Fingers get bent back. Arms get pulled. Like you said, Jim, it's a dogfight in that pile. No wonder Edelman is going to be on the All-Bruschi Team this year -- LOL! Just like last year.

Q. Hi Tedy, great win for the Pats. However, I have serious doubts about the team's running game ability. Can you honestly imagine, going forward, this team could win it all, with this subpar O-line and barely existent running game? Still wishing for the best though here from Jakarta. -- Nuhan (Indonesia)

A. First of all, I want to thank all our international chatters. "Bruschi on Tap" has gone global! For all the concerns, Nuhan, that you have on that team, I have them, too. I'm wondering also how many curveballs and change-ups can this coaching staff give to other teams? Double passes. Abnormal formations. It took every possible thing for the Patriots to win on Saturday -- even lining up kicker Stephen Gostkowski as a punter to try to confuse the Ravens. There does come a time when you just have to line up and beat that man in front of you. But there is concern that Stork may be out and that would be significant.

Q. Hey Tedy, with Rex Ryan staying in the AFC East, do you think that complicates re-signing Revis? What do you expect to happen with Revis Island this offseason? -- David (Columbus, Ohio)

A. David, I think this is a great question. I wouldn't doubt it that Rex is in the meeting room during his interview saying, "What I need is cornerbacks. And if I get this job, and the Patriots can't work out a deal to extend Darrelle Revis, let's go get him!" So the first part of the question, I do see it as somewhat of "bad news" that Rex Ryan is staying in the AFC East. He's inheriting one of the best defenses in the game, if not the best. And, by the way, they did all that without LB Kiko Alonso.

Q. Tedy, was the risk of a bad snap/handoff really worth giving the Ravens the ball back at the end of regulation? Why kneel downs instead of Blount runs? -- Jeff (Helena)

A. I agree. I thought that was bad coaching at the end. It takes a few seconds off the clock to take the ball from center, hand off, the RB runs into the line of scrimmage -- even if you get no gain. When they punted, there were 14 seconds left. In three downs, if you take an extra 3 seconds off per down, now you're talking about 5-6 seconds left. When you have 4-6 seconds left, you don't even need to punt -- you can drop Brady in shotgun and throw it deep and the clock would expire. I'm talking about unforeseen variables, of course, but I thought that could have been handled better. I can understand the thinking of limiting the number of exchanges, but at this time of year, if that makes you nervous ... We're trying to win a championship here, aren't we? I've seen this staff do it better before.

Q. Hey Tedy, what is your opinion on the Patriots' trick plays and so-called deception? For me, it was just Bill out-coaching the other head coach. I thought it was laughable that Harbaugh would complain about that after the game and I loved Brady's response. Even when the Pats aren't having their best game it seems as if they are always able to outsmart their opponent. -- Roy (Cape Cod)

A. There is no better feeling as a player or coaching staff when another coaching staff acknowledges that you were one step ahead. The Patriots showed something the Ravens weren't ready for -- that's basically what went down. They weren't ready, Harbaugh got upset, and before they knew it the Patriots were in the end zone. Coach Belichick and that staff thinks outside the box. I pride myself on thinking the same way. That's why this team is not like a lot of other teams out there where it's "This is what we do, we'll do it, and they can't stop us." The way I was bred as a football player, that's not the way to look at things. I believe you're always finding new ways to win because football is an organic sport. It changes with the times. You have to know how to adapt and find an edge.

Q. Hello Tedy, have you or any of the other past Patriots from the championship-winning teams gone in a group and visited the locker room to talk to the young guys on the team now to motivate them to go out there and give it their all? I can just imagine you Willie, Vrable, Harrison, Law and the rest pumping the team up. -- Rey (New Jersey)

A. Rey, this team shouldn't need any extra motivation at this point. They are so close to raising another banner. One thing I hope they know: In this town, in New England, if you don't win a championship, what you did during the season means nothing. So a great regular season means nothing. Getting to the Super Bowl means nothing. We went 18-0 and lost in the Super Bowl, and that team is forgotten. New England remembers champions. This is a hat-and-T-shirt game. The AFC championship is on the line. Bring it!