The Patriots are heavy favorites against the Colts in the AFC Championship game this Sunday but that doesn't mean coach Bill Belichick will be taking the opponent lightly -- even after New England spanked Indy back in Week 11, 42-20.
Part of that is because Belichick doesn't take anyone lightly, but it's also due to the fact that the Colts have arguably the best quarterback in the league in Andrew Luck. Not only is Luck fantastic through hen air -- there's no one willing to stand in the pocket and take the hits he does while throwing with uncanny accuracy -- but he's sneaky fast for a guy who looks like a hard-living hobo.
Belichick, of course, is not fooled by appearances.
“(Luck) is like a sixth receiver you have to cover. He can run, but again, if he extends the play then he has the ability to create big plays,” Belichick said on Tuesday during a conference call.
“We’ve seen him do that multiple times throughout his career already. The play he made against Denver where he kept the ball on about the nine, 10-yard line in the red area and ran it in for an easy touchdown – it was called back, but it was an easy touchdown. It’s another guy you have to defend in the running game, the passing game in terms of his ability to scramble and make first-down yardage on possession-type downs. And he makes good decisions, so all those things are a problem: having to cover receivers longer and having to deal with his ability to run for yardage.”
Put another way: Luck has the smarts of a Tom Brady or Peyton Manning -- but with a much better arm -- and the athleticism and elusiveness of a much faster Ben Roethlisberger. There's a reason the Colts are winning, despite virtually no running game, not much in the way of an offensive line, and an inconsistent defense. Belichick knows this and the Patriots know this. Sometimes, knowing isn't enough. We'll find out one way or the other on Sunday afternoon.