The New England Patriots and Tom Brady are in a familiar place. They're set to host the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship, a game they've now qualified for nine times since 2001. This is also their fourth consecutive AFC Championship appearance. New England will be hoping for a better result than its last two appearances, which ended in losses to the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos.
Up next are the Indianapolis Colts, who upset Peyton Manning and the No. 2 seed Broncos in Denver and will now travel to take on New England, the top seed in the AFC.
This will be the second meeting between the Patriots and Colts this season, and the Colts will need to play significantly better than they did the first time if they are going to have a shot. The Patriots blasted the Colts 42-20 in Week 11, but the game was closer than the score indicates. Although the Pats led the majority of the game, the Colts cut the lead to 28-20 early in the fourth quarter. New England took over from there and iced the game with a pair of touchdown drives.
Though the first game took place late in the season, the two teams may look a little different Sunday. Jonas Gray paved the way for the Patriots in Week 11, rushing 37 times for 201 yards and four touchdowns. At the time, the game appeared to be a breakout performance, but Gray hasn't seen much action since. He had just 20 carries the rest of the regular season, and was inactive against Baltimore. The Colts, meanwhile, have begun to jell along the offensive line and on defense, making them a more formidable foe than when they last faced the Pats.
Brady is the most experienced quarterback remaining in the playoffs, with three Super Bowl victories to his name. That is a stark contrast from Andrew Luck, who will make his first AFC Championship game appearance. Luck is the only quarterback left in the playoffs who has yet to win a Super Bowl.
One team will go home, the other will punch its ticket to Arizona. It should be a great matchup. Here is how you can watch:
How to Watch
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.
When: 6:40 p.m. ET
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms
Online Streaming: Verizon NFL Mobile
The Patriots opened up as 7-point favorites on most books, according to OddsShark.