On Brady Versus Luck in a Sideways Monsoon
How come it's become a given that adverse weather favors the Patriots? Is it because the Patriots dynasty was launched on a sloppy, snowy Sunday in Foxboro 12 years ago in a contest now known as "The Tuck Rule Game"? It it because Tom Brady earned the reputation of being the anti-Manning, the cold-weather quarterback who would consistently come out on top in January? Is it because Bill Belichick made a deal with the Devil some time ago, and now anything 'bad' that comes from the sky, be it it snow, hale, fire or brimstone, is a harbinger of success for the hooded genius and an omen for the rest of the league?
Either way, what Tom Brady and Andrew Luck are about to face is not a cold weather game. Instead, picture that sideways monsoon that struck the Brady Bunch in Cincy earlier this season, as Tom tried to orchestrate a game-winning drive at the end of the game. The conditions were so bad, his passes fell 10 yards short of his intended receiver. All bets were off.
The forecast calls for temperatures in the 40s, rain, and wind ranging from 30-40 MPH. That's insane. And that's enough to derail any game plan, no matter how ingenious. What does this type of weather favor? A running game, just barely, and smart, situational football. While the Patriots have become synonymous with the latter over the past decade, one can not overlook the fact that they have found themselves on the losing end of close games the past couple of seasons: Carolina, Cincinnati, and at the Jets this season, for example. Meanwhile, Andrew Luck has made a living on winning by the skin of his teeth. One need not look no further than last week's historic comeback against the Chiefs, but if you must, the Colts seemed to win only through late-game heroics in Luck's rookie season.
And so here we are, three hearty paragraphs in and no real clue who will be playing in the AFC championship game next week. We can expect there to be slips, falls and fumbles as fundamentals go out the window in a muddy affair in Foxboro. If the winds really do live up to the forecast, throwing the ball may be near-impossible, so we must look to the running games. Football outsiders gives the Patriots a slight edge in the ground game, but the Colts a leg-up in run defense. What I think truly separates these two teams is Luck's mobility versus Brady's lack thereof. We saw what a game-changing effect a mobile QB can have on a close game in less-than-ideal conditions last week in Lambeau. Simply put, when the play breaks down, which it will in the rain and the wind, who is best suited to play backyard football -- to just take off and run?
- Donald Brown rushes for over 100 yards and a TD
- Andrew Luck rushes for 40 yards, picks up a couple key first downs with his legs
- Brady will work the short passing game to death, keying in on either Amendola or Edelman -- whoever is garnering less attention from the Colts D
- The Patriots will slow down Robert Mathis by 1) leaving the halfback in the backfield to block, 2) running the ball in his direction and 3) working the short game to death, as already mentioned
- Legarette Blount will fumble
- There will be upwards of 10 shots of Reggie Wayne on the sideline, wishing he could play
- Bill Belichick will unveil his own line of waterproof hoodies
- There will a couple of instances in which each team decides to go for it on 4th rather than kick a field goal into the wind
- The Colts will win by fewer than 3 points