Indianapolis Colts' Pass Rush Key to Victory Against New England Patriots

By Eric Smith

The Indianapolis Colts (6-3) have a good chance of beating the New England Patriots (6-3) on the road this Sunday in Foxboro. The Colts are winners of their last four and looking for their third straight road victory of the season.

The Patriots have won their last three games and haven’t lost since October 14th on the road against the Seattle Seahawks. The game will feature two high powered offenses, as they both rank in the top five in the NFL.

The Patriots have the top ranked offense in the league, gaining 430 yards per game. The passing attack ranks seventh, while their ground game ranks fifth. They score a league high 33.2 points per game. If the Colts want to have any shot at winning on Sunday they need to exploit that.

When first looking at this game, you would think the Colts’ best shot at victory would be winning the turnover battle. That is important, but actually not going to be the deciding factor. In fact, in New England’s three losses, they either won or tied their opponent in the turnover margin.

The Colts biggest key to winning is getting pressure on Tom Brady. When teams are able to do that, the Patriots offense struggles. The Colts can’t sit back in zone coverage and allow Brady to pick them apart. If you look at their last four losses dating back to the Super Bowl in February, all four teams played tight man coverage on New England’s receivers and got a good pass rush on Brady.

New England is also 0-4 in the last four games against teams playing man coverage. The Colts need to see this and get up on the line and bring the heat. That will cause Brady to throw erratically and allow the Colts to get some turnovers.

Since 2000, Brady is among the worst in throwing into coverage. He’s not very good at throwing the ball when his receivers are heavily defended. Credit the head coach and offensive coordinators of knowing that and running plays that favor Brady’s style. New England calls a lot of short crossing routes to get guys wide open and that’s where Brady thrives.

But, when teams are right on the line playing tight single man coverage and using everyone else in blitz mode those teams succeed. Brady has thrown all three of his interceptions in the three losses and has been sacked nine of the 15 times in those losses as well.

That’s the telling factor right there.

100 percent of his interceptions and 60 percent of his sacks have come in losses. In their six wins, Brady has zero picks and only been sacked six times.

Indianapolis has the new system and personnel to get to Brady they just need to put it in action. Then on offense don’t worry about New England. They’ve forced five fumbles in the three losses and still got beat. They’re heart and soul is keeping Brady untouched. When he’s rattled their whole team is rattled.

The game is going to come down to that. If the Colts get to Brady and play tight man coverage they will win. If they sit back in a zone and allow them to do whatever they want New England will be the team improving to 7-3. Simple as that.

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