Regardless of what happens on Sunday, Tom Terrific is going to head back to his mansion in Brookline, crawl on top of Super G for the evening, and wake up and make the world’s best pancakes for his kids. The Neck Beard is going to still read books on The History of Concrete, continue to climb the ranks of NFL quarterbacks, and be a force in the AFC for years to come. Those are really the only two givens you count on for this weekend’s AFC Championship game. Does one team have the edge over the other? Sure, you’d be a fool not to think so either. The Patriots, led by Brady and Belichick, have dominated Andrew Luck and the Colts all three times they have played. Last year in the playoffs, that made Andrew Luck look like Andrew Dice Clay in the divisional round. Most recently, in Indianapolis on national television, some stiff by the name of Jonas Gray ran for two bills and four touchdowns. The girls of Title Boxing Danvers would have handled The Colts pretty easily in that one. But as we know, and as we’ve seen in previous years against the Jets, Ravens, and Broncos, what happened previously doesn’t matter all too much. I’ll do my best to break it down for all the little people.
Quarterback – What else is there to say about Brady? The guy has done it all, continues to do it all, and believes he is some cryogenically engineered terminator that will play until he is 50. Do you want to be the one to tear the jersey off his back? I sure as hell don’t. I’ll leave that to Giselle behind closed doors. On the other hand, you have the best young talent we’ve seen at the position since Peyton Manning. The Neck Beard is raw, strong, has a cannon, and can make just about every throw. His decision making still needs some work, and still resembles that of a young quarterback. Sixteen interceptions is sixteen interceptions, however you decide to slice it. I give the edge to TB12 here.
Running Back – Odds we see Jonas Gray go nuts in this game? I would say slim to the Octomom showing up on my doorstep to watch the game on Sunday. This poor bastard runs for two hundred yards and four touchdowns and forgets to set his alarm clock and Belichick throws him in the dungeon. You will see a heavy dose of Blount carrying the rock, especially in the poor weather that is expected. Perhaps a dash of Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden as well. Indianapolis has struggled to run the ball all season. Former top five pick Trent Richardson was carrying a coffee cup in Denver rather than the football last weekend. Have you seen a bigger fall from grace than that guy? Boom Herron and the other stiff they have carrying the load will do enough to keep the Patriots honest, but I would watch for them in the passing game. The Neck Beard has been the king of check-downs over the last month. The edge remains with the Patriots.
Wide Receivers – Nobody jumps off the page at me from either team here. You have the little Patriot minions and TY Hilton from Indianapolis. Hilton has been prone to drop the ball in the big spot and Hakeem Nicks and Reggie Wayne are shells of what they used to be. Amendola had his JD Drew moment last week, essentially making game winning plays. Edelman continues to play the Welker role better than Wes did, and his brain isn’t scrambled eggs yet either. Both teams have weapons you have to game plan for and respect, but nothing that makes you whiz down your leg in fear. This is a push.
Tight Ends – Anytime you have Rob Gronkowski on your side, good things can happen. We also saw Tim Wright’s coming out party against Indianapolis earlier this season if I remember correctly. The Colts also have two decent options at the position as well in Fleener and Allen. The Neck Beard and Fleener are former college teammates and probably studied cement history together at Stanford as well. Can Patrick Chung cover these guys up the seam? History will say no. Want to crucify me for saying that, then so be it. Chung made a good play on Daniels on third down last week, I’ll give him that. However, he has been beaten in coverage more than, well I won’t throw that pun in there. Too soon. The Gronk still conquers all. The advantage goes to the Patriots here.
Offensive Line – When The Stork goes down, the Kline comes in. Remember the thoughts that ran through your head when you KNEW you were in trouble for something and you hadn’t faced your parents yet? That is the feeling I get when I see Kline go into the game. I fear for his own life, let alone Brady’s in the pocket. Indianapolis didn’t allow a sack against Miller or Ware last week (both of which are complete pansies when the games get big), and are pretty healthy. Anchored by a BC alum at left tackle, they are going to give Luck time to throw the ball. It will be up to Ninkovich and Chandler Jones (whom also was nowhere to be found last week) to win the edge and SET THE DAMN EDGE to keep Luck in the pocket. The horses get the edge here, easily.
Defensive Line – The Patriots have some big boys up front. The Colts are a tad smaller with a little more speed. The defensive line of either team is just kind of….. there. Nothing really stands out besides Wilfork and him clogging the middle like a frat house’s toilet. Arthur Jones (brother of Chandler) is a constant variable the offensive line will be contending with all day. He isn’t a fast and dynamic as Chandler, but he definitely has some more size and strength. Can Ninkovich and Jones do their job and get to the quarterback? Can the run defense do a better job of stopping the run and forcing the offense into third and long? That all remains to be seen. I give the edge to the Colts here.
Defensive Backs – Revis F’ng Island. That is all you really need to know. Bill is going to throw Revis on whomever he feels like and have Browner with some help over the top on the next biggest guy. You’ll see Arrington in the slot probably on Montcrief (whom I see having a massive game, because Arrington gets beat more than not). Vontae Davis, who has had great games against Brady in the past, has a banged up knee but will be giving it a go. Landry can’t cover his mother and Sergio Brown is going to get pile driven by Gronk at some point on Sunday. My edge goes to the Patriots here.
Special Teams – Bill Belichick is one of the only coaches who always refers to the three phases of a football game. Special teams holds as much weight as offense and defense in his eyes. It can earn you a roster spot as well and guys have made good livings off of it. I know whenever I pop out some offspring, they will be trained to be long snappers straight out of the womb. Adam Vinatieri is one of the, if not the greatest kicker of all time. He certainly is the most clutch. We’ve been on both sides of the ball seeing him work his magic. I’m sure you all remember the five field goals he dropped on New England in the 2006 AFC Championship game right? Pat Jacked A Fee is one of the best punters in the NFL, so field position will come at a premium if/when the Colts are forced to punt. The Colts get a slight edge in this department.
Coaching – Chuck Pagano had one of the best feel good stories of our generation last year. He came back from cancer treatments to lead his team into the playoffs, only to get stomped out by the Patriots in Foxboro. Belichick is one of the best football minds of all time and gets to correct whatever mistakes his team made in their first meeting. No situation is too big for him, and it was shown last weekend in the divisional round against the Ravens. Want to get your competitive juices flowing? Watch the NFL Game Rewind of him mic’d up coaching up his defense. It was pure football genius. Pagano may be a nice guy and a warrior, but that doesn’t win games in Foxboro in mid-January. Bill Belichick also has the hotter significant other with Linda Holliday.
Predictions are one thing, score predictions are something I want no part of. They are a jinx and all the stars need to be aligned for ANY NFL team to hoist the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the year. I will say I like the Patriots in this game. If you want to predict a score, pick the first lottery numbers that come out in tonight’s Mega Millions. That is a good a guess as any other “analyst” out there. Over 90% of the pundits are taking the Patriots. The line also dropped a half a point, which doesn’t make much sense either. Not much makes sense anyways this late in the season. The only things you can bank on is Brady will be running home to Super G around midnight on Sunday, Luck will throw on his onesie and finish his book on the History of Concrete, and the best team will be representing the AFC in the Super Bowl.