Dismiss it if you will, but there is a chance that the Colts can come into Gillette Stadium on Sunday (6:40 p.m., CBS) in the AFC Championship and win. As of today, New England is favored by 6.5 points against Indianapolis but then again, the Colts were heavy underdogs in Denver and then they proceeded to go out and beat Peyton Manning and the Broncos, 24-13. Superstar quarterback Andrew Luck (4761 passing yards, 40 touchdown passes, 16 interceptions, 273 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns) gives Indy a shot whenever he takes the field, and at some point he’s going to beat the Pats (he comes in 0-3 vs. New England, all 20-plus point losses).
Since getting destroyed, 42-20, in Week 11 at Lucas Oil Stadium by Jonas Gray and the Patriots, the Colts have gone 7-1, including a 26-10 victory over the playoff-inept Bengals during Wild Card weekend in Indianapolis. How have they done it? By utilizing some underrated players on offense. First and foremost, they finally deactivated Trent Richardson, who was beyond useless, and started giving second-year running back Dan Herron way more touches. He has responded in the postseason with a total of 119 yards rushing, two touchdowns and 117 yards receiving. The only caveat for him is a fumbling issue: he’s put the ball on the ground twice but has lost only one in the playoffs.
Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton is Luck’s main target and is one of the top deep threats in the league. He had an excellent regular season (82 catches, 1345 yards, seven touchdowns) and has followed that up with a solid postseason so far (10 catches, 175 yards). He figures to get plenty of attention from Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis, who held him to just three catches for 24 yards in that Sunday Night debacle. Revis has played at a high level all season but Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith showed on Saturday that Revis is still human, catching a touchdown and drawing multiple penalties on the Pats’ All-Pro.
Luck’s weapons get somewhat thin beyond Herron and Hilton, but most every player on offense can make plays. Tight end Dwayne Allen caught eight touchdowns during the regular season and one on Sunday in Denver, but he missed four games with injuries while fellow tight end Coby Fleener (Luck’s roommate at Stanford) has been known for his drops as much as his touchdown grabs (eight in the regular season). Rookie wide receiver Donte Moncrief showed flashes with a pair of 100-yard receiving games and three touchdowns during the regular season (and one vs. Cincinnati) while Patriots killer Hakeem Nicks had four touchdown catches in the regular season and one vs. Denver. Reggie Wayne won’t be expected to do much as he has just one catch this postseason.