INDIANAPOLIS – It's not your typical, hoe-hum, Week Six regular season matchup.
That can be thrown out the window with the Colts and Patriots are back in primetime.
Here are seven things to watch for in the Colts (3-2) and Patriots (4-0) matching up in Week Six:
1. Luck's Return?
-This week, the media has watched Luck throw more than he has in the past three weeks. He was a full participant at practice on Friday and more than a few signs indicate he will be out there on Sunday night. The Patriots defense has done a tremendous job in holding Luck well under his typical Pro Bowl-type numbers in prior contests. Will Luck continue the offensive momentum that was built in Houston?
2. Patriots Ground And Pound
-Look at past box scores of the Colts and Patriots and the difference between rushing yards has told the story. New England hasn't been as committed to running it this year (because of a MVP start for Tom Brady). That doesn't mean the Colts aren't expecting plenty of power (LeGarrette Blount) and speed (Dion Lewis). Is this new-look Colts defensive line ready for primetime?
3. Disrupt Brady
-Outside of Andrew Luck, the biggest individual injury of the week came when the Patriots lost left tackle Nate Solder for the year. The Colts have to find a way to disrupt the timing of Tom Brady and a more consistent pass rush would certainly help that cause. Does the loss of Solder also force the Patriots to employ less extra tackle looks, which they used quite frequently last year?
4. Create Early Momentum
-It's been 21 games since the Colts have scored an opening drive touchdown. Ending that on Sunday night would be massive in keeping a raucous crowd fully engaged. In the last four meetings with New England, the Colts have led for just eight minutes so forcing the Patriots to play from behind could make things uncomfortable for a team so used to playing from ahead.
5. Win Individual Matchups
-This key has been popular when talking about the Colts offense this week. New England has done an exceptional job recently in taking away T.Y. Hilton from his normal production. If that again happens Sunday night, the onus will fall on the rest of the Colts skill group to take advantage of favorable situations. On the other side of the ball, Colts safety Mike Adams made it clear that the Colts must win their own man coverage matchups, something that will obviously be important in solving the issue below.
6. Excel In Situational Football
-When looking at last year's matchups, the Patriots were incredibly efficient in third-down and red-zone chances. The Colts have to flip that script on Sunday. Chuck Pagano has stressed the turnover margin as a major key this week and he's obviously right. However, whoever has the higher clip on third-downs and in the red zone will likely go home the victors on Sunday.
7. Undefeated Tests Coming
-In the Colts next five games they will play three teams currently undefeated (Patriots, @Panthers and Broncos). Also in that stretch is a Drew Brees-led Saints team and a road trip to a one-loss Falcons team, following a bye week. When the schedule came out back in April this was thought to be the toughest stretch of the season. At 3-2, the Colts are in early control of the AFC South. If they can knock off a few of these undefeated foes in the coming weeks, the Colts could climb back near the top of the AFC.