The Super Spiffing Gridiron Gentlemen Playoff Preview: AFC Divisional Round
I hope everyone will be MANNING their TV’s as the Rain falls on a lot of these Stadiums the RIVERS will be overflowing. But with any LUCK we will see some great games…Brady
AFC Divisional Round
Indianapolis Colts @ New England Patriots (1:15am GMT Sunday)
Andrew Luck got the Colts off to their traditional start by not really turning up until half way through the game. At that point he looked like one of the best QB’s of all time. This week he is up against one of the best QB’s of all time and will need to come out all guns blazing to win this one.
In a classic matchup between 2 rivals the Patriots lead the series 47-29. Their last meeting was back in 2012 where the Patriots won an epic shoot out.
The Indianapolis Lucks
Ok so anyone that watched the game last week will know that it wasn’t 100% down to Andrew Luck that they won the game…but it definitely helped. Luck will look to come out firing in this one in a game where they can’t afford to give the Patriots and Belichick an inch. Luck needs to come out continuing the form he finished with last week if they are to win this game. Almost certainly the Patriots will have game planned to take no. 1 Receiver threat TY Hilton out of the game, so it could be a chance for the likes of Fleener and Brown to shine. Also if ever Trent Richardson wanted to redeem himself, this is the game to do it. A make shift O-line will struggle against a dominant yet beaten up Patriots D-line and Luck might have to rely a little on his footwork and speed to make plays. If I was game planning this, I would just put the game in Luck’s hands and tell him to hit what he sees. Luck seems to be one of the quickest players at making adjustments to what he sees in the Defence, which might explain why he’s so good in the 2nd half. The Defence will have their work cut out for them. As early as the Pre-Season we witnessed a new look Patriots team that were just as comfortable running the ball as they were slinging it. The Colts need to realise, it won’t be enough just to get to Brady. The Colts stand a pretty good chance in this one, with both teams suffering horrendously from injuries, but they have to come out firing.
The “Old Dog with New Tricks”, Patriots.
If the Patriots win this one, it will almost certainly be down to the genius of Bill Belichick. In this one they will almost certainly come out and run the ball down the Colts throat, seeing that, that is a weakness. The average neutral fan however will look for the shootout between the Old Dog and the Young gun. I however don’t think Belichick would let that happen and with a noticeable drop off in Brady’s play this would be a sure fire way to lose the game. Belichick has also worked wonders with the Defence which look as strong as ever. Despite some key injuries they are opportunistic and will make the most of any turnovers Luck sends their way. If the Colts start the game in the same way as last week, they will almost certainly be punished by Tom Brady and they will find it hard to get back in this game. Despite injuries, the Patriots are very dangerous and can work the ball down field in a variety of ways and score on teams before they even have a chance to find any rhythm. An almost perfect match up would be this Colts team that always leave it till late to come back into the game.
The Gentlemen’s Opinions
Dan: During the Pre-Season I cited the Patriots as my favourites to win the Superbowl and I have to stick with my initial opinion. Although Brady has dropped a little, he is still exceptionally dangerous and with back up coming from a strong run game, I have to think the Patriots will make the most of any mistakes that Luck might send his way. If it gets into a shootout, well then it could go either way, but I don’t think either team scores past 40.
Duncan: The Pats will miss Gronk but they survived for most of a season without him and just hammered out wins. Brady and his receivers have now found a better rhythm and certainly playing better, but the same can be said for Indy so I don’t know if the battle is really the offence. Brady and Luck both can create extra time in the pocket, and both have a calm head in tense situations. On paper and overall season figures suggest the Pats offence should win this and I have to think have the edge. But I think it comes down to the defence and which one breaks first and makes a mistake to allow a receiver like Dobson or Hilton to tear down the field, or even allow Vereen or Brown space.
Even as a Colts fan I think the Patriots have this.
Jon: I love Game Pass, but I’m pretty damn grumpy I won’t be able to watch this for 24hrs. By rights, the Colts should have lost against the Chiefs but there will be an upset, and it could well be here. The Colts have solid gold in Mathis, and again, Luck will be like a greased piglet against the Patriots Defence. The Patriots will aim to take TY Hilton out of the equation, so it depends on whether the Colts can either get him free. Every time I pick the Patriots to win, they lose. As they say, it’s only weird if it doesn’t work. So I’m not picking anyone. The fans win. Of one of the teams
Charlie: A battle between 2 of the games greats. The Patriots seem to have a more complete team though.
San Diego Chargers @ Denver Broncos (9:40 pm GMT Sunday)
In a battle between 2 Division rivals, anything could happen. The Chargers have enjoyed a recent resurgence in form and could challenge the Broncos and a beaten up Defence.
The Broncos lead the Series 58-48-1, however in a memorable Thursday night game at Mile High; the Chargers dominated this match up.
The San Diego Super Chargers (Yup…I’m sticking with it)
The Chargers resurgence has been exceptional. What is most impressive to me is what they have got out of their Rookie crop, who have come in and immediately improved this team. For the Chargers to win this one they will need to ride Ryan Matthews, who is having his best season to date. As soon as they get into a shootout they lose. They need to keep the ball away from Manning and on the odd occasion he throws a pick they need to take full advantage of it. On Defence they need to keep the Broncos guessing, change up the plays, but dialling up the Safety or Corner Blitz might not work against Peyton Manning who can get the ball out to the likes of Welker and hit some serious yards after catch. If Rivers, Matthews, and their exceptional Defence can play mistake free, they could take this one. But it will be a challenge.
The “Now or Never”, Broncos
There has been a number of clichés that we haven’t been able to shake. The big one in this game however is to do with Manning’s record in the Play offs which is less than stellar. Here however with his surrounding weapons, he has zero excuses. It is now or never for Manning as this Offence will never be this good again. Manning gets Welker back to add to a cast of Receivers that all look exceptional with Peyton Manning throwing them the ball; the run game is average, but good enough to be a concern and to take some of the pressure off 18. What could prove to be problematic for this team however is what is a serious drop off in play from this Defence and could be an issue if they let Rivers keep up with Manning, who in turn will be up against the in form Chargers Defence. This will be tough game that no one at the start of the season would ever have thought would be this close…I can’t wait.
The Gentlemen’s Opinions
Dan: This is a close one. The Chargers form has been exceptional and have already proved that they can win at Mile High. Ryan Matthews has been incredible and Rivers looks like the Rivers of old. I can’t however bet against Peyton Manning, no matter how many times he breaks my heart!
Duncan: They are certainly striking like lightening at the moment, the Chargers. With the likes of Woodhead, Mathews and one of my favourite rookies, Allen, I like their chances. They are not overawed and if Rivers manages the same kind of precision that he did against the Bengals then I think they stand a chance against, what has to be said, an occasionally leaky Broncos D. But the Broncos are the Broncos, playing at Mile High, and Manning is almost not human this season. That offence is blistering, not point listing them, but options galore. And when it comes to big games this season, ok so they have been a bit hit and miss but still they have often pulled out the win. Of all the teams the Chargers are unlikely to be intimidated, but in this case it is more likely to be a charge of the light brigade into the Guns of Peyton.
So yeah, Broncos to win.
Jon: The Chargers are living up to their name, not only do they have the greatest fight song in the NFL they have a superb, hard hitting Offense. However, as has been pointed out elsewhere, they’ve also used the same Matthews, Woodhead and Brown rushing attack repeatedly, and the Broncos will be eager to show them up as a one-trick pony. They also need to do better converting in the Redzone and not settle for field goals against Manning. Wes Welker is back, and could well be the difference here for the Broncos, particularly on tough 3rd downs. That said, something in my waters says that Manning is going to be facing the same accusations after the weekend.
Charlie: Manning has been in this situation so many times and so many times he’s screwed it up. Rivers and the Defence look far too strong