The New England Patriots were a much different team in the 2013 NFL regular season than we’re accustomed to seeing under Bill Belichick and with Tom Brady at the helm. They have relied upon the run more often than normal and have not had the weapons on the edges that they have in years past.
However, the Patriots’ newfound offensive formula earned them a bye in the first round of the 2014 NFL Playoffs and they opened up their postseason on Saturday night against the Indianapolis Colts. The Pats’ rushing attack surfaced again on Saturday versus Indy and actually delivered a dominant performance and victory to move New England to the AFC Championship game next week.
The Patriots ran the ball 46 times on Saturday for 234 yards and six touchdowns, good for a fantastic 5.1 yards per carry. New England came into the game noticing the Colts’ weak rushing defense and attacked it relentlessly to find success. However, the Patriots’ game-plan against Indianapolis could have been about more than just grabbing a win on Saturday night.
If things play out according to the higher seeds winning in the two playoff games on Sunday, the Patriots will meet the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship. Unlike the Colts, the Broncos have a stout run defense. However, their pass defense has been a bit lackluster.
In actuality, the game against the Colts could have been Belichick and Brady playing possum. New England obviously doesn’t want their opponents for the AFC Championship game to know what to expect, so what better way to throw them off of the scent than to attack in a completely different way.
Brady has had success on a number of occasions this season, despite his lack of weapons. His skill level as a quarterback is still as high as ever and, given the opportunity, he can pick apart a defense. Though it’s just a hunch, setting up Brady for success next weekend could be what Saturday’s win was partially about. Either way, the Pats are one step closer to yet another Super Bowl appearance for Brady and Belichick.