Oct 26, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws the ball to tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) during the first half against the Chicago Bears at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
The Indianapolis Colts host the New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football. I spoke with Cyrus Geller, editor of Musket Fire, to get some behind the scenes information on this week’s opponent.
1. It wasn’t long ago that analysts declared the Patriots dead. Since then, they’ve been on a five game winning streak. What has changed for the Pats during this stretch?
Two major things: The offensive line has really come together, and Rob Gronkowski has gotten healthy once again. Given time to throw the ball, Tom Brady actually has a lot of weapons, including the second best weapon in the game in Gronkowski.
2. How much does Rob Gronkowski actually mean to the offense? He’s been on the field more during the winning streak and appears to be healthy once again. Was that all the Pats needed to click on offense?
As I mentioned, Gronk’s rise has been a huge key to the Pats’ success over the last month or so, and his ability to dominate whoever is attempting to guard him makes this offense absolutely lethal. He is a walking mismatch, as there is nobody in the NFL that can cover him 1-on-1. Many have tried, and many have failed.
3. What has been the calling card on defense for the Patriots this season? Has the secondary played well enough considering the money spent in the offseason?
This secondary is the best in the NFL. The numbers don’t show it, but numbers lie. Darrelle Revis is back as the best cover corner in the game, and Brandon Browner’s physical presence has been huge for them. In addition, Devin McCourty continues his elite play at the safety position, and the depth at cornerback really separates this group from the rest. Now, the front seven has some issues, but they have improved over the last couple of games.
4. Who needs to step up on each side of the ball in order for the Pats to leave Indy with a win?
Akeem Ayers on defense, and the offensive line on offense. The Pats need to get some pressure on Andrew Luck in order to win, because if you give him time in the pocket, it doesn’t matter if there are four Darrelle Revis’ back there, he will find someone that is open. Offensively it is simple: If Brady has time, he will light the Colts up.
5. What is your prediction for Sunday night’s game? Who wins and why?
I have the Pats winning 37-27. It’s going to be a close one, but turnovers are the differences. The Pats have a league low six giveaways while the Colts have 15, and New England is third in the league in takeaways. That will decide the winner.