Afc: indianapolis at new england
5:40 p.m. today • Gillette Stadium • TV: Ch. 4 • Line: Patriots by 7
head to head
The Patriots have won the past two games between the teams: 43-22 in the divisional round last year, then 42-20 in the regular season on Nov. 16. The Colts are 1-3 in the postseason vs. the Patriots. Their only playoff win over New England came in the AFC Championship Game in January 2007 (38-34).
why new england will win
The Patriots are 16-4 in home playoff games and are as flexible as any team in the NFL. Against the Ravens last week, they won despite not handing off to a running back a single time in the second half. For the game, the Patriots finished with just 14 rushing yards, the fewest by a winning team in a playoff game.
why indianapolis will win
Third-year quarterback Andrew Luck, making his championship game debut, rarely gets rattled, and the Colts already have defied expectations by winning at Denver. On defense, the Colts are allowing only 99.0 rushing yards per game in the playoffs. New England has lost three of its past eight home playoff games.
WHEN indianapolis has the ball
Luck needs to be as calculating yet fearless on offense as New England figures to be on a defense. The Patriots have had success confusing Luck, who then has forced passes. He's a good runner and might need to take off a lot on Sunday.
WHEN new england has the ball
Even if the Colts are winning the trench battle in the passing game, they could get overwhelmed by the Patriots on the ground. LeGarrette Blount gained 166 yards and scored four TDs in last year's divisional game, then Jonas Gray ran for 201 yards and four TDs this season.
ONE TO WATCH
New England wide receiver Julian Edelman caught 92 passes for 972 yards in 14 games this season. He has been a productive kick returner, he took snaps at defensive back earlier in his career, and he delivered the Patriots' play of the year when he tossed a 51-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola last week.
Excluding a meaningless Week 17 game in which the Patriots rested several starters, New England has averaged 39.1 points per game in its past seven home games.
Indianapolis: Coach Chuck Pagano said cornerbacks Vontae Davis (knee) and Greg Toler (groin) are listed as questionable after being limited participants in practice Friday. He expects both to play Sunday, though.
New England: The Patriots will be without starting center Bryan Stork because of a knee injury suffered last week. Right guard Ryan Wendell is expected to take over for Stork.