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Patriots-Colts game preview

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff  December 4, 2011 08:30 AM

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FOXBOROUGH -- If Peyton Manning were walking through that tunnel in uniform, today's game might contain some of the drama that led the league's schedule-makers to thrust it into the Sunday Night Football spotlight.

That isn't happening, and the oddsmakers don't expect this to be much of a game. Still, there's a history here and a sense that the Colts can't possibly be this bad, especially on defense. There's also a sense that if this game was being played outside of Foxborough, it could be a classic trap.

This will be the 12th time the Patriots and Colts have met since 2003, and the rivalry between the teams is as big as one could be between teams that play in different divisions. The Patriots are 6-5 against Indy in the previous 11 games, with an average margin of victory on either side of just 3.7 points. In the last meeting between these two teams on Nov. 21, 2010, the Colts rallied from 17 points down in the fourth quarter before falling short, 31-28. No one expects the margin of this one to be four points or less, but they'll play the game anyway.

Here are the details for today's matchup:

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

Season records: Patriots 8-3; Colts 0-11

TV/Radio info: WBZ-TV Ch. 4; 98.5 FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Gino Cappelletti, Scott Zolak) and nationally on Westwood One Radio Sports.

Projected starting lineups:

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Matt Light, LG Logan Mankins, C Ryan Wendell, RG Brian Waters, RT Nate Solder, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Deion Branch, QB Tom Brady, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, TE Aaron Hernandez.

Colts offense: WR Pierre Garcon, LT Anthony Castonzo, LG Mike Tepper, C Jeff Saturday, RG Ryan Diem, RT Jeff Linkenbach, TE Jacob Tamme, WR Reggie Wayne, RB Joseph Addai, QB Dan Orlovsky, TE Anthony Hill

Patriots defense: LE Shaun Ellis, DT Vince Wilfork, DT Kyle Love, RE Andre Carter, LB Rob Ninkovich, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Gary Guyton, CB Devin McCourty, CB Kyle Arrington, S James Ihedigbo, S Sterling Moore

Colts defense: DE Robert Mathis, DE Dwight Freeney, DT Fili Moala, DT Antonio Johnson, LB Kavell Connor, LB Pat Angerer, LB Philip Wheeler, DB David Caldwell, DB Antonio Bethea, DB Kevin Thomas, DB Jerraud Powers

Patriots left tackle Nate Solder (ankle, back) has been ruled out for the game, while linebacker Brandon Spikes (knee) is doubtful. Right guard Brian Waters has been removed from the injury report, and cornerback Devin McCourty is hoping to return to the lineup.

For the Colts, Dallas Clark is out, as is, of course, Manning. Defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis are both probable. Joseph Addai may be listed as the starter, but Donald Brown and Delone Carter should get most of the carries.

Dan Orlovsky is making just the eighth start of his seven-year career. Adam Vinatieri (above), owner of four Super Bowl rings, returns to the home of the team with which he won his first three.

Here's a list of Globe reporters to follow on Twitter during today's game:

Christopher L. Gasper (@cgasper); Greg A. Bedard (@GregABedard); Shalise Manza Young (@ShaliseMYoung); Monique Walker (@monwalker); Chad Finn (@GlobeChadFinn); Gary Dzen (@GlobeGaryDzen)

We also encourage you to check out Boston.com's Patriots Pulse section before, during, and after the game, and to tag your tweets #pulsepatriots to get them to show in this growing feature. We'll be asking various questions throughout the game in an effort to better track the pulse of Pats nation.

And fans can get in on the commentary on today's game in our live game chat.

Also, the Patriots are conducting a toy drive before today's game. Volunteers will be stationed with marked blue bins at the following locations around Gillette Stadium and will begin collecting donated toys beginning four hours prior to kickoff:

* Patriot Place Plaza gates
* UBid.com ramp
* P10 parking lot, near Bank of America gates
* W3 entrance
* E3 entrance

Enjoy the game.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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