|Dr. Z's Positional Breakdown|
|How the Colts and Patriots match up for Sunday's big game.|
|Peyton Manning (18)|
Occasional slow starts have been a cause for concern. Had trouble zeroing in vs. Carolina (2-for-9) but then class took over. Slow start against Pats will put the Colts in a catch-up mode from the go. I'm guessing that in the dome he'll run a no huddle, hurry up attack all the way, just as he did against New England in the playoffs last year.
|QB||Tom Brady (12)|
No one has as many quality receivers as he does, or as much time in the pocket to find them. Max protecting with seven or eight and sending Moss deep into multiple coverage is a schoolyard play that's had devastating results. He's never had a hot receiver like Wes Welker, either. Still, in a couple of games (Cleveland, Dallas) he was a bit wild at the start.
|Joseph Addai(29) |
He'll have to be tireless Sunday because he'll be the guy to bleed out the tough first downs, catching and running ... just as he did in the Super Bowl, just as Edge James did for so many years. A tribute to the Colts' draft acumen. He was the 30th player picked in 2006, and I can't find anyone better who was taken higher. Kenton Keith (36), a good banger but a minimal receiving threat, backs him up.
|RB||Laurence Maroney(39) |
Came back from a groin pull last week. A glider with a quick burst and very heady moves. Not the receiver Addai is. They've got enough guys to handle that part of it. Hard working Sammy Morris (34) is a good change of pace, but I'm assuming he'll be out with the chest injury. Little Kevin Faulk (33) has been coming in to catch passes for first downs for nine years now. Terrific heart and instincts.
|Reggie Wayne (87)|
Always a gamer, but stepped up his play tremendously after Marvin Harrison got hurt. Has been the big play man in last two weeks. One of the league's surest handed, downfield.
|SE||Donte Stallworth (18)|
Gives the enemy a double problem. Speed on both sides of the formation, offsetting Randy Moss. Can take the short slant all the way.
|Marvin Harrison (88) or Anthony Gonzalez (11)(87)|
Harrison, out for two weeks with a bad knee, hasn't been a deep threat since the beginning of the season. They drafted Gonzalez to fill the Brandon Stokley, third wideout role, but I don't think he's ready for Sunday's kind of action. Aaron Moorhead (85) is a big wideout who fills out a uniform nicely but has done little in five years.
On most teams in the league he'd still be going through his get-me-outta-here routine, but something up in Foxboro has turned him into the stud he once was. Have you ever seen two more spectacular catches, that he somehow made look routine, than his pair against the Skins? Jabar Gaffney (10) will catch his two passes for 18 yards, and if TE Ben Watson (84) suits up, he'll spend some time out wide.
The H-Back, split or slotted TE or whatever you want to call him. Has assumed a huge role in the offense, with Harrison hurt. Peyton's security blanket. Does well against LB's, and beat Denver's Champ Bailey for 27 yards in man coverage. Can make the spectacular catch, but will also drop the ball on occasion.
Might be the greatest hot receiver, or blitz-control guy, who ever lived. Weighs 185 but took on the Redskins' 245-pound MLB London Fletcher. Will catch the ball when he's open or covered. Seems to make no difference. Can make the awkward grab and come up running. A 10-catch day against Indy wouldn't surprise me.
|Ben Utecht (86) |
Basically the in-line blocker. They'll slip him out for the short pass, or send him on crossing patterns. Has been dropping the ball.
|TE||Kyle Brady (88)|
Terrific blocker at 280. They can max-protect with him, and you know what that means, with Moss running loose. I'm assuming Watson will still be out with a bad ankle, but you never know with this team. If he's at full strength though, the Colts have another deep threat to worry about.
|Tony Ugoh (67) or Charlie Johnson (74)|
Ugoh, the rookie starter sat out the Carolina game with a bad shoulder. There's a slight dropoff with Johnson, but either one of them will have his hands full, first with Jarvis Green, then with whomever the Patriots have rushing from the edge in their nickel.
|LT||Matt Light (72)|
Quick and heady. Matches up well with Dwight Freeney. Massive, bull rushing types fare best against him, but that's hardly a concern against Indy. Held Freeney to two tackles, one assist and no sacks in two games last year.
Good on the move. Smart, combative, pulls well and can create creases. Former SI all-pro. Had trouble, though, when the Steelers applied massive inside pressure a couple of years ago.
Terrific in all phases of the game. One of the team's best No. 1 draft choices in recent years. Great competitor. Heady and tough. Our choice for the NFL's best guard.
|Jeff Saturday(63) |
Proud old pro who keeps things together. Has been one of the league' best for many years. Does well with the monster-type nose tackles. Occasionally gets tested with stunts.
Constantly improving. The same size as Saturday but seems smaller. Very quick, very smart. Bonecrusher type nose men gave him trouble at one time, but Indy doesn't have any of those. EVEN
|Jake Scott(73) |
Steady, not quite as nifty as Lilja on the other side, but a good, solid young lineman. The entire Colts' front five has been together for every game except for when Ugoh was out.
Former wrestler who supplies the inside power blocking. Has had injury problems, though, with a bad shoulder. Russ Hochstein (71) subs for him.
At 320 pounds, the only player resembling a hog type on this streamlined O-line. Very powerful, blocking down. Can cave in a side. Might have trouble with a leverage rusher such as Vrabel.
This position has been a revolving door during the Super Bowl era. The team was hoping massive second year pro, Ryan O'Callaghan, would take over the spot, but Kaczur has held him off.
|TOTAL: Patriots, 5-4-2. Except for a wounded Harrison, the Colts' Super Bowl lineup is basically intact, but New England has one of the modern era's most dominating attacks.|
|Dr. Z's Breakdowns: Defense|