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A Quick AFC Championship Look: Indianapolis Colts @ New England Patriots

Intro: The Colts (11-5) path in the 2015 playoffs takes them to Foxborough this weekend for the team’s AFC Championship matchup on Sunday. The title game kickoff comes at 6:40 p.m. EST in Gillette Stadium.


INDIANAPOLIS – The two most dominant AFC teams over the past decade and a half will meet again in the postseason this weekend.

While the Colts constructed a two-score upset over the Denver Broncos, the Patriots earned the home AFC Championship meeting with resiliency.

On two separate occasions Saturday night, the Patriots fought back from 14-point deficits to the Ravens and won a shootout, 35-31.

Down 28-14 with 10:22 remaining in the third quarter, the Patriots quickly erased that margin.

A pair of 70-yard touchdown drives from New England was sandwiched around a defensive three-and-out, tying the score at 28.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski had the first of those two touchdowns and finished the night with seven catches for 108 yards.

How the Colts try and defend Gronk on Sunday will be pivotal to see if they can stymie the most dangerous Patriots offensive weapon?

An injury to watch this week for the Patriots is the health to starting center Bryan Stork. The rookie left the Divisional win with a knee injury.

One difference from the Patriots 42-20 win on November 16 is both teams will have key defensive linemen back in the lineup.

Chandler Jones (6.0 sacks on the year) returns for New England and ironically enough, his brother, Arthur Jones is now healthy for the Colts.

The Colts run defense will certainly be a focal point this week. Back in Week 11, Patriots running back Jonas Gray ran for 201 yards.

Gray was inactive though against Baltimore and the Patriots had just 14 rushing yards on 13 carries, the fewest rushing yards for a postseason winner in NFL history.

Another matchup to keep an eye on is how the Patriots choose to defend T.Y. Hilton. We saw All-Pro corner Darrell Revis matchup against Reggie Wayne in Week 11 but that might change on Sunday.

With a win on Sunday, the Colts would head to Super Bowl XLIX on Sunday, February 1. It would be the team's third Super Bowl appearance in the last nine years.

Action highlights from the Patriots @ Colts game.

*2014 Record: *12-4, 1st in the AFC East.

*Head Coach: *Bill Belichick, 15th season as Patriots head coach (20th season overall). 211-109 overall in the regular season and 20-9 in the playoffs).

*2014 NFL Rankings: *Offense – Overall, 11th (365.5); Rushing, 18th (107.9); Passing, 9th (257.6). Defense – Overall, 13th (344.1); Rushing, 9th (104.3); Passing, 17th (239.8).

2014 Leading Passer: Tom Brady (373-of-582 comp., 4,109 yards, 64.1 pct., 33 TDs, 9 INTs).

*2014 Leading Rusher: *Jonas Gray (89 carries, 412 yards, 5 TDs).

*2014 Leading Receiver: *Julian Edelman (92 receptions, 972 yards, 4 TDs).

2014 Leading Sacker:  Rob Ninkovich (8.0).

2014 Turnover Breakdown:  Plus 12 (tied for 2nd).

2014 NFL Draft Results:  As always, the Patriots had some interesting picks in their draft. New England chose Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley in the first round, who was rehabbing an ACL injury. In the second round, the Patriots looked to the future by selecting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Fourth-round pick Bryan Stork is the team's starting center.

*2013 Review: *Even with some tough injuries on both sides of the ball, the Patriots secured a bye for the fourth straight season. The Patriots held off the Colts in the Divisional Round of the playoffs before heading to Denver for the AFC Championship. A trip back to the Super Bowl wasn't in the cards though as the Patriots fell to Denver, 26-16, ending their season.

Last time in Playoffs:  2013 season. Lost in the AFC Championship, 26-16, to the Denver Broncos.

*Last time in Super Bowl: *2011 season. Lost Super Bowl XLVI, 21-17, to the New York Giants.

*Super Bowl Championships: *Three. Won Super Bowl XXXVI (2001), Super Bowl XXXVIII (2003) and XXXIX (2004).

2015 Pro Bowl Selections: QB-Tom Brady, K-Stephen Gostkowski, TE-Rob Gronkowski, CB-Darrelle Revis, ST-Matthew Slater

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