<
>

How will Patriots match up CBs against Colts WRs?

What assignment will Malcolm Butler draw against the Colts? Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- During the New England Patriots' 30-6 win over the Dallas Cowboys, CBS analyst Phil Simms made the point that the Patriots are playing the same amount of man coverage this season as they did last year with Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner as their top cornerbacks.

The focus on man coverage this year was evident against the Cowboys, as Malcolm Butler mostly lined up against Terrance Williams, and fellow corner Logan Ryan accounting for the Cowboys' No. 2 receiver in two-receiver packages.

Against the Cowboys' three-receiver package, the Patriots subbed out Ryan and inserted Tarell Brown (on Cole Beasley) and rookie Justin Coleman (on Devin Street) at cornerback.

So how will the Patriots approach Sunday's game against the Colts' trio of TY Hilton, Andre Johnson and Donte Moncrief from a matchup perspective?

This is one of the significant game-plan related questions as the hype machine for the game shifts into higher gear today.

Last year, the Patriots played slot cornerback Kyle Arrington on Hilton, and had success with that approach. If the Patriots are thinking along the same lines this year, Brown could be a top candidate to draw that assignment based on what we just saw Sunday against Dallas. His work on slippery slot man Beasley was notable.

But one could also make a case for Butler being the better matchup against Hilton, in part because Hilton is a vertical threat and Butler runs well. In that scenario, Brown could then draw Johnson in a matchup of savvy veterans, leaving Ryan on Moncrief.

Patriots cornerbacks showed up mostly in a positive way Sunday against Dallas, but the challenge figures to be a bit tougher against the Colts.