Patriots ran all over them in mid-November: In one of their defining games of the season, the Patriots recorded a 42-20 road victory over the Colts on Nov. 16. The most notable aspect of that game was how the Patriots went to a power running attack and steamrolled their way to 244 rushing yards on 45 carries (5.4 average) with four touchdowns in a coming-out party for running back Jonas Gray. The Patriots played with a sixth offensive lineman, Cameron Fleming, on 37 of their 73 offensive snaps (including penalties). That was a Sunday night game that embarrassed the Colts, so this will be their chance at redemption. For the Patriots, Bill Belichick surely will be reminding players there is no carryover from that game, and perhaps he'll point to the 2010 season when New England blasted the New York Jets late in the regular season 45-3, only to lose to them six weeks later in the divisional round of the playoffs, 28-21.
A different test for defense: The Patriots were in their sub defense (five or more defensive backs) on 48 of 58 snaps against the Colts on Nov. 16, and based on the way Indianapolis trends toward the passing game, it is likely to be similar once again on Sunday. That figures to make it a different type of defensive game than we saw against the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round, as the Patriots were in their base package a bit more (26 of 77 snaps) with a primary focus on defending the run and it didn't go well for them. The Colts are less apt to grind it out on the ground (3.9 avg. per carry in regular season, 25th in the NFL) as their best chance to win is with the ball in quarterback Andrew Luck's hands. Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis spent a significant portion of the Nov. 16 matchup checking Reggie Wayne, while slot man Kyle Arrington was excellent against T.Y. Hilton, with some help behind him. One matchup that gave New England some problems was cornerback Brandon Browner on tight end Coby Fleener (seven catches, 144 yards).
Patriots have had Luck's number: In three games against the Patriots, Luck and the Colts have been outscored 144-66.