Indianapolis Colts (0-11) at New England Patriots (8-3)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
VENUE: Gillette Stadium
WEATHER: Foxboro, Mass
TV: CBS, Marv Albert, Rich Gannon
PREDICTION: Patriots 40-15
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Colts fired their defensive coordinator and
benched their starting quarterback this week - a tough preparation for
red-hot Patriots QB Tom Brady (eight touchdowns, no interceptions the
past three games). Dan Orlovsky gets the start for Indianapolis and
although New England's secondary is the most vulnerable spot, he must
get help from the ground game to control the clock. The Patriots should
also be able to run the ball inside with BenJarvus Green-Ellis, which
will help negate the Colts' lone defensive threats - DEs Dwight Freeney
and Robert Mathis.
FAST FACTS: Orlovsky (seven starts) and Colts LB Ernie Sims played for
the NFL's only 0-16 team (2008 Lions). ... The Patriots have
scored 30-plus points eight times in 11 games. The Colts cleared 20
With a new quarterback at the helm for Sunday's
game at New England, the Indianapolis Colts must get more from their
up-and-down running game if they hope to have any chance of pulling a
major upset against the Patriots.
The running attack has gotten better this year
despite a patchwork offensive line.
Running backs Joseph Addai, Donald Brown and
rookie Delone Carter have shown flashes of big-play ability throughout
But it's been the Colts' continued problems in the
red zone and converting on third down that continues to be a major
bugaboo for the offense.
Addai has been slowed by a strained hamstring this
year. And Carter has been impressive for a first-year player although
fumbling issues has curtailed his playing time in recent weeks.
Brown, a former first-round pick in 2009, has been
inconsistent during his two seasons with the team. But he has started
to come around this year.
"Plain and simple, we certainly do (need the
running game to be more consistent). A lot goes into that as well. We
have to certainly be able to make certain that we are able to sustain
some drives, so we can get our numbers up in that area. That's been a
problem," coach Jim Caldwell said.
"(When) you're 1-of-9 in terms of third-down
conversions, it kind of keeps those run totals down. But we'd like to
try to increase in that area, if we possibly could, because that's one
thing that we're doing that's been pretty consistent."
And with Dan Orlovsky getting his first start of
the year at quarterback, having a consistent running attack is almost a
"It's a quarterback's best friend, and we
certainly hope we can help him in that area," Caldwell said.
The Patriots are aware of the numbers they've put
up in the past few weeks on the defensive side of the ball. Regardless
of the quality of the opponents --and,
more specifically, the opposing quarterbacks - they're happy with the
progress they've made, though they're still not completely satisfied.
"I think you can ask any football team or any
professional team, 'Are you satisfied with where you are?' and you're
never satisfied, but you have to keep striving to be the best you can
be individually and as a team," nose tackle Vince Wilfork said.
"If you take the chance and just look at film on
yourself and critique yourself, it makes the team better. The last
thing you want to do is go out there and put the team in a situation
where they can't trust you. That's one thing we preach around here,
'Make sure you're doing your job because the guy next to you is
depending on you.' When we do that, things work out great, but when we
don't, we have problems."
The numbers figure to get better this week as the
Patriots prepare to face the Indianapolis Colts, who will start veteran
backup Dan Orlovsky at quarterback. In the past two weeks, the Patriots
have faced backups Tyler Palko and Vince Young, so they've grown
accustomed to preparing for a player they haven't seen in quite some
time if ever.
"Whatever we have, they'll get it. I don't care
where it's from," Wilfork said on watching film of Orlovsky. "It's
tough when you have a guy that you haven't really seen much of and you
have to dig and dig and dig. If that's what we have to do, that's what
we have to do.
"We were in that situation earlier a couple weeks
ago with Kansas City and we had to find some clips and we did. I'm
leaving it up to Bill (Belichick) and those guys to find that stuff for
us, which they always do, to make it a little easier for us. It can be
tough at times because you just don't know how a team is going to
attack you in certain weeks and teams always attack us a little
differently than they do everybody else. We have to be prepared.
Whatever it may be, we definitely have to be prepared for it."
Echoing the same sentiment as the rest of his
teammates, Wilfork said Indianapolis' 0-11 record means nothing to him
this weekend; in fact, this is still a rivalry game to him, even
without Peyton Manning taking snaps for the Colts.
"The record doesn't mean anything to us. This is
the National Football League and we know any given Sunday, a team is
going to try their best, especially against us, to try to wear us out
and beat us up to prove a point," Wilfork said. "We're always walking
around with a target. One thing we have to do is we have to be ready to
go; start fast and finish fast."
--QB Peyton Manning had a conference call Thursday
with Dr. Robert Watkins, whom issued the following statement: "X-ray
and CT examination of the surgical area shows that the fusion performed
in September has achieved firm fixation. Peyton will now be allowed to
increase the intensity and breadth of his workouts as tolerated. There
remains every indication that his recovery will continue. There still
is no timetable for Peyton's return to practice, which is one of many
steps in his expected return to game action. He is working hard on a
rehabilitation program outlined in conjunction with myself, Erin Barill
and Peyton. His response to this plan in the future will dictate his
return date." Said Manning, "I am encouraged with what Doc had to say.
I am happy that I can increase my rehabilitation program as outlined by
him, Erin and the Colts Medical Staff. I am hopeful for continued
progress in this next phase of my rehab."
--OG Joe Reitz (knee), who has missed the last
four games after undergoing knee surgery, practiced fully on Wednesday
but was held out of Thursday's workout. He may be available to play
against the Patriots on Sunday. "There is a chance, a very good chance
(that he will play)," coach Jim Caldwell said.
--RB Joseph Addai (hamstring) went through a full
practice on Wednesday and Thursday. He continues to nurse a strained
--OG Ryan Diem (knee) did not practice Wednesday
or Thursday. A decision on Diem's availability for the New England game
isn't expected until Saturday.
--C Jeff Saturday (knee) returned to practice on
Thursday after missing Wednesday's session. Saturday has been nursing a
--TE Brody Eldridge (hand) did not take part in
practice Wednesday and Thursday. His status for the Patriots game is
not expected to change before the weekend.
--TE Dallas Clark (fibula) did not practice on
Wednesday or Thursday. Clark hurt his lower leg against the Falcons and
has not practiced or played since. "He's coming along and he's making
good progress. He went from work on the treadmill to field work now, so
we'll see," coach Jim Caldwell said.
--DT Drake Nevis (back) did not practice Wednesday
and Thursday. Nevis has been bothered by a lower back injury since he
initially suffered the injury against Tampa Bay. He probably won't be
available to play Sunday at New England but a final determination has
yet to be announced.
--WR Anthony Gonzalez (groin) is expected to be a
game-time decision after sitting out practice on Wednesday and Thursday.
--FB Ryan Mahaffey (concussion) has yet to be
cleared to return to practice after he was hurt against Carolina last
Sunday. Mahaffey did not practice Wednesday or Thursday.
--QB Dan Orlovsky has been through a winless
season once. He doesn't want to relive the experience this season with
the 0-11 Colts. Orlovsky started seven games for the Lions in 2008
during an 0-16 campaign. He completed 143-of-255 passes for 1,616 yards
with eight TDs and eight interceptions.
--QB Tom Brady was named the AFC's Offensive
Player of the Month for his performance in November. After opening the
month with a loss to the Giants, Brady passed for more than 300 yards
in each of the team's next three games against the Jets, Chiefs and
--LB Brandon Spikes was not on the practice field
Thursday during media availability as he continues to rehabilitate his
knee injury. Spikes hasn't played since Nov. 6 against the Giants.
--OL Sebastian Vollmer missed practice Thursday
due to a foot injury. Vollmer was injured last weekend and will likely
miss Sunday's game.
--C Dan Connolly has been practicing despite a
lingering groin injury and should be ready for Sunday's game. The
Patriots' depth on the offensive line is limited beyond Connolly.
--LB Dane Fletcher should be ready to make his
long-awaited return to the lineup Sunday. Fletcher hasn't played since
Oct. 16 due to a thumb injury, but has been on the practice field all
Colts Have No Chance Sunday
More Patriots news
More Colts news
- Colts: Game Plans & Matchups
No Rivalry Without Manning
The League: Week 13
References Patriots Game
Passing Attack Back In Play
Schedule Looks Promising
Tight Ends in Patriots History
Gridiron Report Week 13: Colts
OTHER GAMES (Week 13)
Tennessee Titans (6-5) at Buffalo Bills (5-6)
Kansas City Chiefs (4-7) at Chicago Bears (7-4)
Atlanta Falcons (7-4) at Houston Texans (8-3)
Oakland Raiders (7-4) at Miami Dolphins (3-8)
Denver Broncos (6-5) at Minnesota Vikings (2-9)
Indianapolis Colts (0-11) at New England Patriots (8-3)
Carolina Panthers (3-8) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7)
New York Jets (6-5) at Washington Redskins (4-7)
Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3)
Baltimore Ravens (7-4) at Cleveland Browns (3-8)
Dallas Cowboys (7-4) at Arizona Cardinals (4-7)
Green Bay Packers (11-0) at New York Giants (6-5)
St. Louis Rams (2-9) at San Francisco 49ers (9-2)
Detroit Lions (7-4) at New Orleans Saints (8-3)
San Diego Chargers (4-7) at Jacksonville Jaguars (3-8)