The Indianapolis Colts pulled off a shocking 45-44 comeback win against the Kansas City Chiefs in the wild-card round of the playoffs, and here are a few thoughts from a New England Patriots perspective:
1. Andrew Luck factor: If the Patriots host the Colts next week, which would happen if the No. 6 Chargers beat the No. 3 Bengals tomorrow, this is where it starts. Entering the wild-card round, the thought was that if there was one player who could take over a game and possibly end the team's season, it was Luck. He did it to the Chiefs, albeit with some luck (e.g. Donald Brown's fumble and recovery for a TD). It's one thing to prepare for a top running back like Jamaal Charles (Chiefs) or a top receiver like A.J. Green (Bengals), but when the signature player is a quarterback, it's a whole different ballgame.
2. Defense looks vulnerable: One area where I gave the Colts too much credit is on defense. That's a vulnerable unit, particularly in the secondary. The presence of Patriots rookie receiver Aaron Dobson could be key in this type of matchup, as he's a bigger target (6-foot-3, 200) with more of an outside-the-numbers and downfield presence. The Colts struggled against the Chiefs' bigger receivers, and Dobson (foot injury) is really all the Patriots have in that area.
3. Don't get fooled by a dome team playing outdoors: The Patriots are undefeated at home this season, and it's absolutely an advantage for them that they will be playing at 8:15 p.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 11. They are also one of the NFL's best teams playing in adverse conditions, and it figures to be cold. With this in mind, there might be a thought to dismiss the Colts' chances as a dome team coming outdoors, but that would be a mistake. The Colts showed a lot in this area in a Week 16 win at Kansas City, where it was frigid and they played one of their best games of the season. I'd still pick the Patriots, but this Colts team deserves respect.