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Colts see game against Patriots as an ‘opportunity to prove that we’re for real’

Related: Patriots vs. Colts preview: How New England’s offense will find success in Week 15

Indianapolis Colts v Miami Dolphins Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

The Indianapolis Colts enter Week 15 with a 7-6 record and as the current owners of the number six playoff seed in the AFC. However, they carry an underdog mentality that is similar to that of their upcoming opponent: the 9-4 New England Patriots, who headed into the weekend as the top-ranked team in the conference.

Despite both Indianapolis and New England being among the best teams in the league at the moment, and very much on their way to making the playoffs, the two clubs have found motivation in trying to prove their doubters wrong. The Colts, who are currently listed as 2.5-point favorites, in particular see the game against the Patriots as an opportunity.

They want to establish themselves among the frontrunners in the AFC by beating one of the most complete teams in the NFL.

“I love the challenge. I love the fact that we’re going up against this team,” Colts head coach Frank Reich told reporters earlier this week.

“We know it’s a tough test. ... On one hand, this is just the next game, but you also know it’s the New England Patriots. It’s the No. 1 seed in the AFC. But what it really is for us, it’s an opportunity to prove that we’re for real, to prove that we belong here where we’re at. Ultimately, that’s what it comes down to.”

Just like the Patriots, the Colts also started their season in disappointing fashion: Indianapolis opened the year with three straight losses, and found itself at 2-4 six weeks in. Since then, however, Reich and company have been able to string together some impressive performances to move to 7-6 and into the playoff picture.

The Colts’ recipe to success has been similar to the one used by the Patriots. New England lifted itself out of a 2-4 hole by, among other things, effectively running the football, limiting turnovers, and playing opportunistic defense.

Along the way, the team tried to keep its “2-4 mindset.”

This recipe has allowed the Patriots to win seven straight games — and it is one the Colts very much have used as well. In fact, Indianapolis is among the most productive rushing teams in football. Meanwhile, the club is ranked first in the NFL with a +13 turnover differential and 29 takeaways.

“I think you’ve got two teams that are committed to doing whatever it takes to win,” Reich said. “I’m excited. I’m excited for the game. You just never know. I think that’s one of the things that makes this so exciting for fans, and for us as well.

“I just know that in all three phases what we’re focused on is really just execution in the run game, pass game, special teams — all three phases, execution. We’re going up against a team that doesn’t make many self-inflicted errors. We feel like we try and be that same way. At the end of the day, I think that’s what it will come down to.”

Reich’s excitement about the upcoming matchup against his team’s long-time rivals is obvious. His players, meanwhile, try to downplay the importance that the game against the Patriots has for Indianapolis’ status and position in the AFC playoff race.

“We try every week to make it about the week,” said quarterback Carson Wentz. “Not make it bigger than it needs to be and we have the simple 1-0 mindset every single week we come in here. We know the magnitude of the game, the magnitude of who we are playing in the conference and where teams sit. We know all that stuff. For us, it’s just, ‘How do we get better? How do we prepare and get ready to go 1-0 this week?’”

The Patriots’ game in Indianapolis will be kicked off at 8:15 p.m. on Saturday.