INDIANAPOLIS – For the 15th time since 2003, the Colts and Patriots will meet for 60 minutes of action.
Per usual, this matchup is another with January implications as both teams lead their respective divisions after 10 weeks.
What should fans be looking for when the Colts renew their rivalry with the Patriots on Sunday night?
1. Ball Security
-After some self-scouting in the bye week, Chuck Pagano made it clear that ball security is atop the priority list. The Colts have committed 15 turnovers already in 2014 after having the NFL's fewest (14) last season. Of course, it's fitting the Patriots bring the league's best turnover margin into Sunday night's contest. Andrew Luck knows his turnover history with the Patriots and he's looking to change that on Sunday.
2. Defending Gronk
-A ton of talk this week has centered on individual matchups. Rob Gronkowski, at 6-7 and 265 pounds, provides a unique challenge at the tight end position. He has caught 18 of his last 19 targets and has carved up opposing defenses during the Patriots five-game win streak. The Colts have a healthy Jerrell Freeman to throw at Gronk and expect a slew of different looks for the All-Pro tight end.
3. Exploiting Offensive Depth
-Of the Colts eight leading receivers in 2014, only two of them had catches in last year's playoff loss to New England. The Colts are clearly better equipped to handle a Patriots defense that will in all likelihood try an take away T.Y. Hilton. After two 100-yard games against the Patriots, Hilton has preformed at a level where the extra attention deserves to come his way.
4. Getting Brady Off His Spot
-Brady is the first to admit he's not the most nimble of foot and the stats indicate that when you get pressure on the Hall of Famer, it leads to troubles offensively. The Colts exit the bye week with more than a few flashes of a consistent pass rush in the first half of the year. Now the question becomes if that can translate against an improving offensive line and a quarterback who rarely holds the ball for long. In the Patriots two losses, Brady has been sacked seven times.
5. Controlling Possession
-Dominating the time of possession might not be as important as it was against Philadelphia but keeping Brady off the field certainly isn't a bad thing. The Colts offense has had some great balance in past home games and establishing that early would alleviate some of the stress on the Indianapolis defense. In the Patriots last win over the Broncos, Denver had just one drive longer than 3:30.
*6. Feeding Off Of The Home Faithful *
-For the first time in nearly a month, the Colts will return to the friendly confines of Lucas Oil Stadium. Sunday's matchup also marks the first time since 2009 that the Colts have hosted the Patriots. In the past two years, the Colts have thrived in some of their more electric home environments (Green Bay, Seattle and Denver). Will that happen again on Sunday night?
7. Relishing The Moment
-Another chapter of this rivalry will be written in primetime fashion on Sunday night. While the week-to-week mantra remains alive inside the Colts complex, there's no ignoring what a win on Sunday could do for playoff seeding. The Colts would love to host a playoff game or two come January and a win on Sunday would be a step in the right direction of securing some sort of home field advantage.