New England Patriots v. Indianapolis Colts game: AFC playoff schedule

The England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts meet up in the AFC Championship game with one team reentering familiar territory and the other on the rise. The Patriots are one game away from the Super Bowl thanks to a bye week and a narrow victory over the Ravens, while the upstart Colts have dominated the Bengals and Broncos. But which team has the edge and the best shot at wining the conference? Here’s a breakdown of Tom Brady vs Andrew Luck on down.

Quarterback: Tom Brady appeared to be on a downward slide in the early part of the season, but bounced back and rallied New England to the strongest record in the AFC and then hung 35 points on the Ravens defense. Andrew Luck may have finally risen to a Brady-like level, but he’ll have to defeat him in order to claim that title. By a narrow margin we’ll go with Tom based on his championship experience. Advantage: Patriots.

Offense: Brady has made the Patriots receivers look better than they are, and Bill Belichick’s game planning has made running backs like LeGarrette Blount and Jonas Gray look like all stars. But the offensive line remains a question mark against playoff caliber opponents. The Colts running game is still a major question mark, but so far Reggie Wayne and TY Hilton have more than made up for it. Advantage: Draw.

Defense: Darrelle Revis is coming off a frustrating outing for New England, and we don’t expect him to have two bad games in a row. But the Indianapolis just shut down Peyton Manning. Advantage: Colts.

Overall: Colts on the rise, trying to prove they’re AFC Championship caliber. Patriots trying to squeeze one more Super Bowl out of this era. In this instance we’ll use home field advantage as a tiebreaker. Advantage: Patriots.