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Keys to the Starting Lineup presented by CarMax: Brady's Patriots ready to crush Colts, again

New England's Sunday night trip to Indianapolis is a big game - on and off the field.

The Patriots (4-0) have faced the Colts (3-2) four times since Chuck Pagano took over as the Indy coach and No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck replaced Peyton Manning at quarterback.

The results of those four games were blowout wins for the Patriots with final scores of 59-24 in Foxborough in 2012, 43-22 in the postseason at Gillette Stadium following the 2013 season, 42-20 in Indianapolis last November and 45-7 in last January's controversial AFC Championship game in New England.

Each game was a 40-plus-point output for Tom Brady's team. Each included New England running the ball with impressive ease, including 40-plus attempts in the last three meetings.

Four games with an average margin of victory of 29 points.

So expecting the Patriots to light up the Lucas Oil scoreboard and run up the score on the Colts Sunday night is less a prediction and more a presumed continuation of a well-established trend.

Add in the lingering and ongoing effects of the Indy-driven Deflategate scandal from last January and it's hard to believe that New England isn't looking to break the Colts spirit the way a cowboy might tame a wild stallion.

Make no mistake, this is a Week 6 battle that's been circled on calendar for months by Patriots fans, NBC executives and most of the football-following world.

The only problem with the hype leading into the game is that Luck has been banged up of late, missing the last two games with a shoulder injury, and the Colts have looked anything like a Super Bowl contender to open the new season. Pagano and GM Ryan Grigson are reportedly not on the same page and the result is an Indy team in disarray.

Patriots Football Weekly's Andy Hart shares his players to watch during the Patriots Week 6 game against the Colts.

A Patriots blowout Sunday night would bring some minor closure and revenge to Patriots Nation. A Colts win would be a stunning development in this rivalry that dates back more than a decade and would return Indianapolis to the contender conversation in the AFC.

As the anticipation builds toward Sunday night's primetime kickoff, here are a few key points to ponder as the Brady-led Patriots prepare to roll into Indy looking to extend their blowout streak over the lackluster and un-Luck-y Colts:

Brady is "human" - Brady made it quite clear this week that he is indeed a human being and not some emotionless robot. Well, humans inherently feel pain and seek revenge, especially those as competitive and fiery as the Patriots future Hall of Fame quarterback. So while No. 12 may say that he's preparing for this game the way he would any other and doesn't have any extra motivation this week, his actions on Sunday night may tell a different. Hard to imagine this game playing out without an energetic spike, verbal outburst or some other outward display of emotion. A Brady doubted, a Brady scorned, a Brady motivated is a dangerous Brady.

Track meet? - The way the Colts are playing and with the talent they have, a track meet offensive show might be the only way they have to win. That would mean spreading out the Patriots with their own offensive weapons and giving New England a taste of its own offensive medicine. That would force a work-in-progress Patriots pass defense to make plays and prove its worth. It might put pressure on Brady and Co. to continue to make plays, rather than skate to victory. Such a plan is very much predicated on Luck playing and playing well. That's not something he's done yet this year. But it's probably the only way Pagano's squad can attempt to shock the world with a home upset.

Turnover advantage - The Patriots have a ton of advantages this week, even on the road. Maybe the biggest statistical advantage is in the turnover game. New England enters the game at a plus-5 turnover differential for the season. That's tied for fifth in the league. Indy is at the other end of the spectrum at minus-7, ranked 31st. Brady has yet to throw an interception. Luck has thrown seven in just three games. If those trends in turnovers continue for the two teams there is almost no chance for the Colts. New England's success in the turnover game is a common theme of the team's run of impressive play over the years and a direct line to its winning games. 

Another Blount day? - The Patriots success running the ball on the Colts has almost been laughable with a combined 657 yards on the ground in the last three meetings. We all remember Jonas Gray's big Sunday night in Indy last November, but he's no longer an option. LeGarrette Blount, however, is very much a possibility. Blount has had more than 300 combined yards and seven touchdowns on the ground in his last two battles with the Colts, both Patriots playoff blowouts. The Colts are a little better in run defense this year thanks in part to the addition of rookie Stanford defensive linemen Henry Anderson and David Parry. Indy is allowing just 3.8 yards per carry on the ground this season. So maybe the Patriots will mix things up and get away from the game plan that's worked so well running the ball 40-plus times against Indy. Maybe it will be more spread offense and pass-first action that we've seen through the first month. Or maybe Blount, who's averaging 4.7 yards per carry in his three games this season, will get his chance to churn out another big day.

Personnel check - The Patriots will continue to have a new look on the offensive line against the Colts thanks to left tackle Nate Solder landing on injured reserve. Regardless of whether Marcus Cannon slides into that spot as he did in Dallas or whether the better-suited Sebastian Vollmer swaps sides, there will be a new look to the line that's coming off by far its worst performance of the year in Dallas. The Colts, though, only have six sacks and don't have a player with more than a single sack. Robert Mathis is still working back from a torn Achilles. This isn't the old Mathis and Dwight Freeney Colts, but New England has to prove that its new-look line is up to the task every week. There are also continued personnel issues in the back end of the New England defense. Tarell Brown will miss the game with a foot injury. If the Colts do go with spread sets on offense to take advantage of their athletic pass catchers, as will likely be the case, that could put guys like Justin Coleman and even newcomer Rashaan Melvin in the spotlight along with the usual cast of Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan and the safeties. Devin McCourty could certainly be called into action at cornerback. The Colts passing attack isn't clicking, but the questions in the secondary for the Patriots remain a concern against a unit with such Luck-led potential.

Prediction - All the world is seemingly expecting a Patriots blowout of the Colts this weekend. Who am I to go against the rest of the world? But, there is a chance the game doesn't satisfy the blood-thirsty fans of Patriots Nation. Assuming Luck plays, which is by no means a certainty; the Colts still have the potential to put up points. Andre Johnson has come on a bit. Frank Gore has been solid. But the Patriots offense has been far more than solid - it's been electric to the point the group has 149 points through four games, more than Brady and company had at the same point back in 2007. Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Dion Lewis (questionable with an abdominal injury) are on fire. I think the Colts will move the ball and make plays through the air against a banged up and suspect New England defense. So some points will be put up and the game may be mildly competitive for a couple quarters. But as was the case in Dallas, and in recent New England games against the Colts, I expect the Patriots to pull away a little bit in the second half. Something in the range of 34-21 is possible, which would probably feel like a letdown to Patriots fans after the team's recent domination in the series and the collective hope for New England to score 50-plus. It will be an impressive, solid road win as the Patriots remain perfect. It just may not give Patriots Nation the revenge it so thirstily seeks.

What other things will you be watching for in this highly emotional trip to Indy for the Patriots? Let us know with a comment below!

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