INDIANAPOLIS – The Patriots will put their undefeated 2013 home slate of games on the line Saturday night as they welcome the Colts to Gillette Stadium.
The Colts and Patriots rivalry has evolved into many new faces over the years with Tom Brady and Robert Mathis the major mainstays.
Saturday's contest marks the 11th straight year the two teams have met and some of the meetings have followed an epic script.
However, this Bill Belichick team doesn't necessarily follow the stereotype of past Patriots teams.
Yes, Tom Brady had another Pro Bowl season but major injuries/off the field issues have put a heavier emphasis on the New England run game.
The offensive balance with a rushing attack and passing game in the top 10 of the NFL has New England once again securing a bye in the AFC playoff picture.
Without an elite tight end, the Patriots have relied on a running game from multiple backs with a power flavor.
The Colts will see a heavy dose of Steven Ridley (773 rushing yards) and* *LeGarrette Blount (772 rushing yards) on Saturday night.
New England's top two passing targets are small, but elusive receivers in Julian Edelman (105 catches for 1,056 yards) and Danny Amendola (54 receptions for 633 yards).
Even with some significant losses on the offensive side of the ball, the Patriots ended the regular season third in the NFL in scoring 27.8 points per game.
On the other side of the ball, the Patriots have had even more injuries particularly in the front seven.
Come Saturday night, the Patriots will be without linebackers Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes. Massive defensive lineman Vince Wilfork has also been placed on injured reserve.
The Patriots rank 27th in yards given up and have struggled against the run this season.
A good omen for the winner on Saturday night?
In the previous three Colts/Patriots playoff matchups, the winner has gone on to capture that year's Super Bowl.
*2013 Record: *12-4, first in the AFC East.
*Head Coach: *Bill Belichick 14th season as Patriots head coach and 19th season as NFL head coach (199-105 overall regular season, 18-8 playoffs).
*2013 NFL Rankings: *Offense – Overall, 7th (384.5); Rushing, 9th (129.1); Passing, 10th (255.4) Defense – Overall, 26th (373.1); Rushing, 30th (134.1); Passing, 18th (239.0).
2013 Leading Passer: Tom Brady (380-of-628 comp., 4,343 yards, 60.5 pct., 25 TDs, 11 INTs).
*2013 Leading Rusher: *Steven Ridley (178 carries, 773 yards, 7 TDs).
*2013 Leading Receiver: *Julian Edelman (105 receptions, 1,056 yards, 6 TDs).
2013 Leading Sacker: Chandler Jones (11.5).
2013 Turnover Breakdown: Plus 9 (8th in the NFL).
2013 NFL Draft Results: Drafts are always interesting with the Patriots. This one didn't have any major moves but the Patriots found some immediate contributors. Linebacker Jamie Collins was chosen with the No. 52 overall pick and his role will only increase with Brandon Spikes going on injured reserve. Wide receiver Aaron Dobson came into the league with a ton of talent and he has had to play significant reps with the injuries at WR.
*2012 Review: *After losing in the 2012 Super Bowl in Indianapolis, the Patriots had a chance to get back to the ultimate game with a home AFC Title tilt last January. However, the Ravens continued their momentum and ended New England's season. The Patriots headed into the playoffs winners of nine of the final 10 regular season games. For the 10th straight year, the Patriots reached the 10-win plateau.
Last time in Playoffs: 2012 season. Lost to the Baltimore Ravens, 28-13, in the AFC Championship.
*Last time in Super Bowl: *2011 season. Lost Super Bowl XLVI to the New York Giants, 21-17.
*Super Bowl Championships: *3.
2014 Pro Bowl Selections: QB-Tom Brady, OG-Logan Mankins, CB-Aqib Talib, ST-Matthew Slater.