FOXBOROUGH – A few of the things I’ll be watching for when the Colts and Patriots meet at 4:15 p.m.:
How are the Patriots going to deal with Peyton Manning? Will they blitz or will they sit back? The Patriots will likely mix things up, but I would not be surprised if they just dropped off and didn’t blitz but more than a few times.
Welker needs to be a factor: When you play a Cover-2 team like the Colts, the person that works the middle of the field – whether it’s a tight end or receiver – needs to be dangerous to get in the mind of the middle linebacker. If the Mike has to hesitate, it can open the deep middle of the field. Wouldn’t be surprised to see a few early throws to Welker, then at some point in time a pump fake to him before going up top on a post to someone like Brandon Tate.
Who’s covering Reggie Wayne? Talking to Aaron Schatz of FootballOutsiders.com before the game, he made a good point (like he usually does). Wayne almost always lines up on the left. The Patriots are a dedicated corner team most of the time, meaning they have right (Kyle Arrington) and left (Devin McCourty) cornerbacks. Will Arrington be able to handle Wayne?
Vollmer needs to hold his own: Even though Tom Brady did not get sacked against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Patriots’ tackles didn’t play that well. It was mostly Brady getting rid of the ball. Vollmer had a very rough night, just like he did against the Vikings. Colts LDE Robert Mathis has had a tad bit better production rushing the quarterback than RDE Dwight Freeney, according to profootballfocus.com (a site that watches and grades every game off the TV copy -- it's a blunt tool, but a good one to take a look at). The Patriots will likely give LT Matt Light a little help with Freeney. Vollmer may have more one-on-one opportunities. He needs be very sound today.
What do you think are some of the keys to this game for the Patriots? Leave your thoughts in the comments and I'll take note of what you have to say.
While you're watching the game, take a look at my Tweets at @Greg_A_Bedard (you don't need to be on Twitter to read them). I try to give a little analysis as the game goes along.