I took some time coming up with my title because this is an intentional article. I started with "the New England Patriots won't rush for 200+ yards!" but that seems like a cop out. While the Patriots have dominated the Colts on the ground, running back LeGarrette Blount and company didn't collect 200+ yards in the AFC Championship game.
So I lowered it to 150+. During the Patriots six game win streak against the Colts, the Patriots have broken that plateau four times, including in each of the past three games. I am only not willing to reduce the number any further is because I believe that New England is going to win, just as they have against the Jaguars and Cowboys, and that they'll be able to run the ball at the end of the game.
But 150! The Patriots won't break 150 yards on the ground! Why?
Coaches Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels keep trying to separate the Colts defense from their 2014 version.
"They've got an entirely new front on the defensive line, so a couple rookies in there that are doing a nice job for them," McDaniels said. "Good blend of veteran experience, some younger players, they've added some pass rushers, a guy that's made some plays for them at safety...
"This is a good group. It's much different than what we've played in the past. We're trying to get familiar with the players and the scheme again and do a good job of studying these guys as we head into the week and start practicing tomorrow."
"They're leading the league in negative plays against the run," Belichick added. "I wouldn't say there are a lot of changes in their [defensive] scheme [compared to last year]."
The Colts have added two quality rookies to their defensive line in Stanford graduates Henry Anderson and David Parry. They signed Kendall Langford in the offseason. They signed edge defender Trent Cole during free agency, and Robert Mathis is returning after missing 2014 with an injury.
This ain't your 8 yards and a cry of sadness defense that allowed Jonas Gray to walk up and down the field in 2014. This is a defense that's still learning, but it's better against the run and Belichick hates playing into an opponent's strength.
Oh, yeah, and the Colts run defense is now their strength. Their passing defense is atrocious. The Patriots might not collect 150+ yards on the ground, but I'm confident that Dion Lewis is a threat for 150+ yards as a receiver.
The Colts have allowed 26 plays of 20+ yards, which is the worst in the league. The Patriots are going to attack and attack and attack down the field.
Indianapolis' defense ranks 28th in 10+ yard plays allowed. That's awful and puts them in the same company as the Saints, 49ers, Giants, and Steelers. Keep in mind that the Colts have played three straight games against the Titans, Jaguars, and Texans. Those aren't good offenses, and yet the defense is still allowing big plays.
And if you're interested, the Patriots rank 1st in the league in 10+ yard plays per game, with an average of 17.25 per game. I have a gut feeling that New England is going to hit the over on that average.
Consider this a game where the Patriots treat the opposition like they have a good defensive line, just like the Detroit Lions or the Buffalo Bills. New England doesn't waste their time ramming their back into the middle of the line just to prove a point. They ignore the strength of the other team and play around them.
So I'm sorry to all of you that have stashed LeGarrette Blount of your fantasy team for the sole purpose of this week 6 match-up. I don't think it's going to happen. Instead, the Patriots are going to take to the air and it's going to lead to a much better outcome on the field.