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State of the Colts: Key team story lines

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff  January 9, 2014 12:26 PM

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The Patriots will tell you they're focused on limiting their own mistakes and playing their game in this weekend's AFC Divisional matchup with Indianapolis, but it's nice to check in on the issues facing the Colts as well. Below are five areas to key in on, from season-long issues to recent ones.

1. They're really good or really bad. It's hard to know what to expect from the Colts this Saturday night. They've beaten some of the league's best teams:

Sept. 22: Colts 27, 49ers 7
Oct. 6: Colts 34, Seahawks 28
Oct. 20: Colts 39, Broncos 33

They've had some bad losses:

Nov. 10: Rams 38, Colts 8
Nov. 24: Cardinals 40, Colts 11

Two of their wins were blowouts over the awful Jaguars. It's nearly impossible to predict which Colts team will show up.

2. Andrew Luck is having his coming out party. Obviously the former No. 1 overall pick was never under the radar, but Luck's performance in a comeback win over the Chiefs last week generated these two bits of talk radio chatter: "You can close the debate on who the best young quarterback is" and "If he doesn't get hurt, he has a 90 percent chance of making the Hall of Fame".

Luck is clearly advanced in his second NFL season -- it took Tom Brady six playoff games to throw the four touchdown passes Luck threw last week. Is it too much hype too soon?

3. Luck has one weapon. One reason Luck's performance is being praised so highly is because he's doing it without much offensive help. Tight end Dwayne Allen was expected to be a major part of the offense this season but played only in the season opener. Wide receiver Reggie Wayne went down on Oct. 21. The Trent Richardson trade has been a disaster. Speedy receiver T.Y. Hilton is Luck's one offensive star.

4. Their defensive problems are overblown. They've been better than the Patriots, for one. Indy ranks 20th in the NFL in yards per game allowed. The Patriots are 26th. In total points allowed the Colts are actually 9th best, followed by the Patriots at 10.

5. They're not afraid to push the Patriots' buttons. Just like every other team. Indy offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton may or may not have been referencing Spygate when he made these comments to the Indy Star. Hamilton was on the staff of the New York Jets from 2003 to 2005:

"I do know for a fact that it was always a 60-minute chess match," he said. "It was ever-changing looks and disguises and they always tend to find ways to figure out some of your signals."

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

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