Rivarly game. Enough said.
1. Dan Orlovsky - The Patriots are currently on part of a seven game stretch against back-up caliber quarterbacks who have been forced into a starting role because there is no one better on the roster. Matt Moore, Tim Tebow, Rex Grossman, Dan Orlovsky, Vince Young, Tyler Palko, Mark Sanchez (zing). After spending six of the first seven weeks getting torched by opposing quarterbacks (other than Mark Sanchez's 158 yard output in week 5), the Patriots secondary strung togetherthree consecutive quality games against Eli Manning, Mark Sanchez, and Tyler Palko. Even Vince Young who put up some numbers on a few plays and one final drive, was stifled for most of the game.
The Colts come in with a new quarterback named Dan Orlovsky. He has the honor of being one of the starting quarterbacks for the 0-16 Lions. Hopefully the Patriots can put up another defensive outing like against Palko and the Chiefs, instead of Young and the Eagles. This defense needs to keep playing solid football in order to help the team win in the playoffs.
2. Five Targets - Deion Branch. Wes Welker. Rob Gronkowski. Aaron Hernandez. Only four players caught balls from Tom Brady against the Eagles. That's perfectly fine, but other players can take this opportunity against the Colts defense to find their spot in the Patriots offense. Tiquan Underwood and hopefully Chad Ochocinco can get involved in the passing game. Maybe even Danny Woodhead and Shane Vereen could see some screens out of the backfield. Let the passing game continue to develop, while still playing with the current stars.
3. Pass Rush - Andre Carter and the Patriots defensive line were stopped by the Eagles line. Absolutely stonewalled. Can they pick it up again against the Colts? The defensive tackles need to improve their pass rushing in order to flush opposing quarterbacks out of the pocket, while the defensive ends need to force the quarterback to step up into the pocket. Perhaps this could be the game where the Patriots defense tries new schemes and new defensive looks that they've only used in practice?
4. Practice Makes Perfect - Speaking of which, the Patriots can totally use this game as practice. Not practice as if the game doesn't count. This is absolutely a game. The Patriots just have to use this game to polish their play. Give players who are impact players a chance to become a part of the team. Let Underwood go deep a few times. Let Ridley and Vereen see the ball. There are young players who need to be ready for the playoffs and they're absolutely capable players; they just haven't had the experience. Let these players get some in-game experience. So look for these players to have a chance to shine for a few snaps in the first half and hopefully in a larger role later in the game.
5. Offensive Line - Still. Every week. Matt Light played poorly against the Eagles. Logan Mankins hasn't done anything of note and has looked extremely average. Who knows who will be playing center. Nate Solder and/or Sebastian Vollmer haven't been lockdown at right tackle. Brian Waters has been the rock on the offensive line and has even helped the center to know when to snap the ball. Can everyone bring out their in Waters?
Let's hope the Patriots can walk away with a big win to keep pace in the AFC.