Colts vs Patriots: Keys to Achieving the Impossible

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Oct 8, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back

Frank Gore

(23) runs with the ball against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The skill positions for the Colts will have to play at their best. Andrew Luck needs his weapons to excel and win their matchups. This is something that has only been seen for only two quarters with Luck under center. Those were the first and fourth quarters on the road against Tennessee three weeks ago.

The changeover at running back and wide receiver in the offseason, are the two biggest differences on the Colts offense. The additions of Frank Gore and Andre Johnson give the Colts options they severely lacked in their January loss to New England in the AFC Championship game. Add T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief to the equation at wide receiver and the talents of Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener at tight end and suddenly the Colts have plenty of healthy weapons to utilize against the Patriots questionable secondary.

Frank Gore vs. Patriots Run Defense

Primarily this game will be predicated on a successful running game. Frank Gore needs to continue his excellent play over the past two games. Obviously, holding onto the football in the red zone should be priority number one. Frank Gore needs to have a great game. He also needs to have the ball in his belly early and often. The best way to beat the Patriots is with their own game plan. The offensive line needs to be unleashed to punch the Patriots defensive front in the mouth and keep pushing them back on their heels. A successful push like that is what gets Gore out in space where he is most dangerous and difficult to bring down. If Gore can break the century mark tonight and find the end zone he could tilt the odds in Luck and the offense’s favor.

T.Y Hilton vs. Malcolm Butler

T.Y. Hilton has also experienced frightful outings against the Patriots. He is likely to see Malcolm Butler across him most of the night. Butler made a name for himself by making the game-saving interception that won Superbowl XLIX. The Ghost needs to be an unfriendly spirit tonight. He was limited in his two games against New England last season because of double-coverage. The Patriots may double him up at certain times tonight, but it would be unwise to do so for the entirety of the game. Doing so will leave too many other potential weapons breaking free. Hilton must win his matchup frequently and remain Luck’s security blanket when he is under pressure. Hilton needs a breakout game.

Andre Johnson/Donte Moncrief vs Logan Ryan

Either, if not both – Andre Johnson and Donte Moncrief – need to go ballistic tonight. When, not if, Hilton gets covered these two need to overpower the press and break free in the secondary. Johnson needs to do so for two reasons. He needs to prove that his game against Houston was not just a fluke and that he can be counted on to produce regularly. Moncrief needs to utilize his size and speed to make the next logical progression in his career as he was on a breakout campaign until Luck went down. Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan is undersized and will likely draw either of the two. They need to utilize their height advantage and bodies to keep him from making plays on the ball.

Coby Fleener vs Patriots Linebackers

Coby Fleener is enigmatic at best. On the other hand, he has also excelled against the Patriots linebackers before and has the opportunity to do it again. If he can get free over the middle on crossing routes instead of constantly getting the dink-and-dunk flat routes Hamilton usually sends him on. In 2014, Fleener caught all seven targets for 144 yards. Fleener needs to build on that with an even better performance tonight. If he does, Fleener could go from a tertiary option to a primary weapon with his athleticism and height against a slower linebacker or shorter defensive back.

Next: The Defensive Matchups