NFL Playoffs: Previewing and Predicting the AFC Championship Game

 

Al Bello/Getty Images

Al Bello/Getty Images

Indianapolis Colts (11-5) at New England Patriots (12-4)

  • Date:  Sunday, January 18, 6:40 PM ET
  • Location:  Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA
  • Point Spread:  New England favored by 6.5 points
  • Over/under:  53.5

The Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots will be squaring off this Sunday with the right to represent the AFC in Super Bowl XLIX on the line. These two teams met back in Week 11 of the regular season, with the Patriots embarrassing the Colts 42-20 on Sunday Night Football. A lot has changed since then, but the fact remains, the Colts will have to play a near perfect game for them to be able to go into Gillette Stadium and knock off the Patriots.

Here is a preview and final prediction for this weekend’s AFC Championship Game between the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots.

All statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.

 

 

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

1.  Can the Andrew Luck-led Colts avoid a fourth-straight blowout loss to the New England Patriots?

Luck has a 0-3 record against the Patriots in his young career with the three losses coming at an average score of 48-22. In his previous meeting with New England this season, Luck put up decent numbers, but his team was blown out 42-20 despite playing with home field advantage. In the biggest game of his career, Luck will be facing the daunting task of having to go into Gillette Stadium to take on the best big-game quarterback in recent NFL history, Tom Brady.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

2.  Can Andrew Luck take the next step and officially join the group of elite NFL quarterbacks?

Going into Denver and upsetting the Broncos in the Divisional round of the AFC playoffs last week was the biggest win of Luck’s three-year career. He is already a borderline elite quarterback, and with a win in the AFC Championship Game, Luck will have gone on the road and beat two of the best quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL. That fact alone will be enough to make his elite status official.

Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Jim Rogash/Getty Images

3.  Will Tom Brady and Bill Belichick add to the lore of the Patriots’ dynasty with their sixth Super Bowl appearance since 2001?

The Patriots have already put together arguably the best dynasty in NFL history. This game will mark Brady and Belichick’s ninth trip to the AFC Championship Game together, and with a win, Belichick will stand alone as the winningest postseason coach in league history. A sixth Super Bowl appearance would give Brady the all-time record for career Super Bowl starts, and would also move Belichick into a tie with Don Shula for the most Super Bowl appearances by a head coach in NFL history.

 

Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Final Prediction: New England 38, Indianapolis 24

The Patriots will again overwhelm Andrew Luck and the Colts en route to the eighth Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.