On May 11, 2015 Roger Goodell issued Tom Brady's 4-game suspension. Sunday was to be his first game back, against the very team that leaked out more whiny-ass hot air than Tom Brady ever did with any football. On paper it doesn't look like much of an even matchup, but the NFL world will still be watching. Riveted. Even the haters will tune in to see if the Patriots can make the Colts tap out.
As much as I've looked forward to this game and have long imagined yet another dominant beat-down by New England, (is it more humiliating for Brady to stay in the game throwing, for Garoppolo to come in after the half, or for Blount to run for 300 yards?) I'm going to take the Tom Brady route and simply hope for - and be satisfied with - the win. Of course, don't get me wrong, I wouldn't argue with complete and total domination either.
Around the AFC East:
Patriots (4-0) at Indy (3-2)
Buffalo (3-2) vs. Cincinnati (4-0)
NY Jets (3-1) vs. Washington (2-3)
Miami (1-3) at Tennessee (1-3)
Notable AFC Matchups:
Denver (5-0) at Cleveland (2-3)
Pittsburgh (3-2) vs. Arizona (4-1)
San Diego (2-3) at Green Bay (5-0)
Baltimore (1-4) at San Francisco (1-4)
Houston (1-4) at Jacksonville (1-4)
Kansas City (1-4) at Minnesota (2-2)
Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk) ranks them 1st: That AFC Finalist banner is gonna get stuck in a place where banners aren’t supposed to go.
Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News) ranks them 1st: As if Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman weren't hard enough to slow down, Dion Lewis has taken the level of mismatch-making to a new level. Tom Brady's big games have become ho-hum.
ESPN Experts rank them 1st: Quarterbacks with at least 11 TD passes and no interceptions through four games in the Super Bowl era: Don Meredith in 1966, Peyton Manning in 2013, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady in 2015.
Mark Maske (Washington Post) ranks them 1st: If you think the Patriots have played ruthlessly so far and have tried to take out their DeflateGate frustrations on the rest of the league, just wait until you see how they play Sunday night in Indianapolis in the rematch of the AFC title game that generated the scandal.
The AP Pro32 ranks them 1st.
Chris Burke (SI) ranks then 1st: Where you can find a line (some books are waiting on Andrew Luck’s status), the Patriots currently sit as eight-point favorites for their Sunday night game in Indianapolis. Eight also is the over/under for number of times Rob Gronkowski blocks a Colts defender into the stands and the number of times Tom Brady spikes the football in the direction of Indianapolis’s bench.
Dan Schneier (Fox Sports) ranks them 1st: The Patriots were hoping to find a Shane Vereen replacement in journeyman running back Dion Lewis -- instead they found an even more dynamic player. Lewis has forced 28 missed tackles on just 39 total touches and he’s averaged the most yards after contact per attempt in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus.
Frank Schwab (Shutdown Corner) ranks them 1st: The Patriots signed running back Dion Lewis to a futures contract late last December. He was a free agent for three months before that. Nobody else wanted him. He is a big weapon in the Patriots' offense now. Other teams have to ask themselves, why do the Patriots always seem to make those kind of moves and outsmart them?.
Peter King (The MMQB) ranks them 1st.
Elliot Harrison (NFL.com) ranks them 1st: Let's be real: Patriots at Cowboys was a mismatch of "Harry Hamlin vs. The Kraken" proportions. And the fact that the football player who has referred to himself by the latter name managed to lay a few licks on Tom Brady didn't translate to diddly-poo in terms of the outcome. Often, sacks are overrated, like when they come in the first quarter of a contest that ends up 30-6 in favor of the other guys. New England is making everyone and everything (that is, any word with a "gate" on the back end) fade into bolivian right now, and it's becoming more and more difficult to keep the Patriots from the top perch in these here rankings. Never mind -- I just moved them.
Pat Kirwan (CBS Sports) ranks them 1st: They started a little slow offensively, but after five sacks, Brady finished 20 of 27 passing and ran for a score. The good news is for the second straight game, the defense was dominant.
Reddit ranks them 1st: Everyone's talking about how fired up Brady is and how he's carrying this offense to the promised land, but the real surprise is this defense. Fourth lowest points allowed in the league, they're on fire and playing like a classic Belichick defense, stopping all comers. With the third highest scoring offense and the fourth lowest scoring defense, the comparisons to 2007 look legit.
Brent Sobleski (Bleacher Report) ranks them 1st: Let the stories of deflated footballs kick into overdrive. The Patriots face the Indianapolis Colts for the first time since the playoffs when Brady came under scrutiny for the air pressure in the team's footballs. More importantly, the status of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck remains undetermined. However, Luck is expected to play after practicing "without limitations" Monday, per the Indianapolis Star's Stephen Holder.
Lorenzo Reyes (USA Today) ranks them 1st: They've taken no prisoners to date, but you must wonder how many points they'll hang on Colts. #DeflategatePayback?.
Sean Mason (Spark Sports) ranks them 1st: When you win a game 30-6 and people consider it a down game for your team I think you’re pretty good. The Patriots have rolled through their first four weeks. Tom Brady still has yet to throw an interception; he’s completing 72.5 percent of his passes, he’s thrown 11 touchdowns, Brady is playing some of the best football of his career. The biggest weakness we thought this Patriot team would have would be their secondary, and despite this they’re secondary has been above average. The Patriots have one of the easiest remaining schedules in the NFL; they will finish the season 16-0; I guarantee it.
Mike Procopio (Goal Line Gazette) ranks them 1st: The champs are still undefeated and are about to commit murder in Indianapolis on Sunday night.
Pete Prisco (CBS Sports) ranks them 2nd: They came off the bye and started slowly against the Cowboys, but got it going in the second half. They will be a tough offense to stop all season.
AVERAGE RANK: 1.1