Updated 03:02 AM EST, Tue, Nov 30, 2021

NFL Playoffs 2014 Predictions and Preview: Indianapolis Colts vs New England Patriots; Will Tom Brady or Andrew Luck be the Winning Quarterback?

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The Indianapolis Colts (11-5) will renew their rivalry with the New England Patriots (12-4) with a new face under quarterback for the Colts as they square off Saturday night in the National Football League (NFL) Divisional playoff round.

The Colts pulled off the second-largest comeback in NFL playoff history, storming back from a 28-point deficit against the Kansas City Chiefs last week, with Colts QB Andrew Luck shrugging off three interceptions to go 29-for-45 for 443 yards and four touchdowns - including a fumble return for a touchdown, diving into the end zone after the ball bounced into his hands and 64-yard pass to WR T.Y. Hilton - to defeat Kansas City 45-44.

"It was one for the ages," said Colts head coach Chuck Pagano. "Incredible, incredible victory. "A great team victory and one for the ages. Our guys are unbelievable. They stuck to the process and never doubted. We did just enough to advance in the tournament."

Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck heads into his third career playoff start after having replaced longtime Colts QB Peyton Manning, after the Colts drafted the young Stanford University standout in 2012. Luck finished his second year as pro completing 60.2 percent of his passes, tossing for 3,822 yards, 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

But the Colts' rushing attack has struggled, ranked 20th in the league in yards per game during the regular season, averaging 108.9 ypg despite a rare mid-season trade with the Cleveland Browns that sent their starting RB Trent Richardson to Indianapolis in exchange for draft picks in the 2014 Draft. Richardson has not found his groove with the Colts, rushing for 458 yards, averaging a meager 2.9 yards per carry and only three touchdowns during the season. The Colts defense has struggled at points during the regular season, ranked 20th in the league, but managed to force nine turnovers in their last four games (including last week's playoff game).

The Patriots have found ways to win despite being plagued with injuries on both sides of the ball, earning the second seed in the AFC playoffs and getting much needed rest for a team that has been banged up all year.

New England's offense had to adjust to losing TE Rob Gronkowski (torn ACL/MCL), OT Sebastian Vollmer (leg), and TE Aaron Hernandez to legal issues that have led to his arrest during the regular season. QB Tom Brady tallied a quarterback rating of 87.3 - his lowest since 2003, but still managed to throw for 4,343 yards and 25 touchdowns.

The Patriots defense also had to make adjustments due to injuries, going into Saturday night's game, playing without DTs Vince Wilfork (Achilles) and Tommy Kelly (knee) in the starting lineup, as well as LBs Jerod Mayo (shoulder) and Brandon Spike (knee), leaving New England with only six linebackers on the roster going into Saturday night's game. The Patriots' secondary has managed to maintain stability on the defensive unit, with S Devin McCourty, and CBs Logan Ryan and Aqib Talib combining for nine interceptions this season.

"Everybody has to step up," said Patriots LB Dane Fletcher, who is expected to replace Spikes in the starting lineup. "Everybody's role kind of increases on defense, especially in the linebacker unit."

Prediction: The Colts could revitalize their running game against a depleted and inexperienced Patriots linebacker corp but injuries in their wide receiver unit - with Darrius Heyward-Bey out with an injured hamstring - could hamper their offense against the Patriots secondary. New England's running back-by-committee, consisting of RBs Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount who combined for 1,545 rushing yards and 14 TDs, and Brady will find a way to keep Luck off the field, allowing the Patriots to grind their way into the AFC Championship game.

Television
You can catch the New England Patiots vs Indianapolis Colts NFL Divisional Playoffs round at Saturday, 8:15 p.m. EST on CBS.

Live Stream (online)
Live stream coverage can be seen on NFL RedZone.

Live Stream (Radio)
Live stream coverage can be heard on NFL Audio Pass and Sirius XM Radio.

Live Score
Live scores could be followed by clicking here.

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