Wrapping up our preview of the Championship games it is the turn of the AFC as Tom Brady's New England Patriots welcome Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts to Foxboro.
How they shape up : Patriots
The big news for the New England Patriots is the injury to center of Bryan Stork. Stork picked up a knee injury in the divisional playoff win over the Ravens and it appears likely right now that he won't be fit for the game against the Colts. If Stork is not fit to play then New England will move right guard Ryan Wendell inside to center and second year ex-undrafted free agent Josh Kline will slot in at right guard.
Winning at the line of scrimmage is obviously crucial in football so the need to make changes at the line could have a huge effect on the outcome. Of course the Patriots could just play 4 offensive linemen.
How they shape up : Colts
Cornerback duo Vontae Davis and Greg Toler were limited in practice on Thursday and Friday but Greg Pangano is "absolutely" confident that the pair will be fit for Sunday. The Indianapolis Colts will certainly need the pair.
Outside of that the biggest news for the Colts is the reassuring news that Trent Richardson has vowed to not be benched again but regardless will not be leading the Colts running attack.
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How they win : Patriots
In last season's playoff meeting between these two the Patriots rushed for 234 yards. This season in week 11 the Patriots went 16 yards and were so dominant in the rushing attack thanks to a 201 yard 4 TD performance from Jonas Grey.
Since that week Jonas Grey has hardly touched the pigskin for New England and LaGarrette Blount has been re-signed. It's tough to predict what the Patriots will do from week to week but if it is not broke why fix it?
Even with injuries to the offensive line look to see the Patriots try to bully the Colts at the line of scrimmage and rush for lots and lots of yards.
How they win : Colts
Perhaps the deciding factor in the Colts win over the Broncos was how the offensive line shut down the Denver pass rush of Ware and Von Miller. Neither Ware, Miller or any other Bronco picked up a sack. For the Colts that was the margin of victory.
Heading into this game against the Patriots then the Colts will be encouraged that for once they haven't picked up any injuries to offensive linemen and will be able to put out the same unit again.
If Cherilus, Reitz, Castonzo, Mewhort and Holmes can put in the same level of performance again then the sky, AFC Championship or Superbowl is the limit for the Colts.
Verdict : PATRIOTS WIN
The Patriots are at home and with the possible exception of the quarterback position New England are a superior team to the Colts. The better team should take care of business here.
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