This game could go either way. I think this Colts team of Luck and Pagano presents a much tougher scenario for the Patriots to beat than Peyton and Dungy did and there are several reasons why:
1. Andrew Luck is much more mobile than Peyton. So when the receivers are covered, he presents a big running threat due to his size and speed.
2. This Colts team does a much better job of covering receivers. As the sportscasters here in Boston pointed out, the Colts covered the Chiefs receivers very well. The main way Chiefs receivers got open was by Colts defenders having to pull off their receiver to cover Alex Smith from getting the first down. Brady can't run, so that's a threat the Colts don't have to worry about. And that's how they basically beat a similar quarterback to Brady when they beat Peyton and the Denver Broncos.
3. The Colts team is doing an excellent job of putting pressure on the quarterback. Mathis leads the league in sacks. And when Werner is thrown in on the opposite side they can really up the pressure on the QB. Walden is good at knocking balls down on the opposite side and great at stopping the run. And then Cory Redding can blast the QB right up the middle. So Brady may have guys rushing at him at all sides.
4. This Colts team can run the ball far better than Peyton's teams ever good. Brown is having the best year of his career and Richardson can get tough yardage. Brown is a very significant threat.
5. The Colts may have lost a lot of receiving talent due to injuries but the rest of the guys are really stepping up. Hilton just had a game with over 200 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns. Da'Rick Rogers is a big and fast receiving threat that can be just as deadly. And for those Pats fans out there, Fleener can remind you a little of Gronk. He's not as muscular. But he's big and can easily beat out defenders with his size and speed. And Whalen kind of reminds you of Edelman or Welker. He's a small guy but he rarely misses a pass and has to be watched out for too.
6. This Colts team can also stop the run. That's something that Peyton's teams could never do.
7. The Colts team also is an explosive team that never gives up. They just made the 2nd best NFL playoff comeback of all time, making a 28 point come from behind victory. And Luck tied Peyton's record for come from behind victories in a season in just his rookie year.
8. For those that are thinking, well the Pats beat the Colts last year, no big deal. This is a completely different team scenario than last year. Last year the team was a patched together team with major salary cap issues and a ton of rookies with no experience. That team also liked to throw the ball a ton and didn't run the ball much. This team on the other hand is far more experienced with all of the free agents they brought in. All of those rookies from last year have experience now. And they are far more run oriented. So you need to worry more than just about Luck. You have to worry about their run game too.
9. The Colts special teams unit is also doing a much better job than in previous years. They avoid big returns and can pin the other team deep, making it much harder for the other team to score. They also led the league in fewest turnovers and fewest penalties. So it's going to be hard to get a cheap few yards through a penalty.
Overall, I think this will be a very close game. It will likely come down to which team has the ball at the end of the game for the final 4th quarter drive. The Pats looked very explosive in their final home game. But that was Buffalo. And the Pats haven't played in a few weeks so they may come out a little rusty. If the Pats get a little over confident or come out stale they'll lose this game because the Colts are on a hot streak.
Also keep in mind that the Pats are missing some key components. Gronk is out. That hurts them bad on offense. And their biggest key on defense, Wilfork is out. I think the Colts come in and pull out a razor slim win. The Pats have failed to win against good defensive teams like the Panthers and Bengals and Jets this year.