|Andrew Luck is looking for a staple victory on the road this weekend.|
The New England Patriots(6-3) welcome the surprise Indianapolis Colts(6-3) to Foxboro this weekend in what will be a very unfamiliar fixture. Even though the Patriots have endured a long-standing rivalry with the Colts, stemming from the Tom Brady-Peyton Manning years, this season's matchup is much more David v. Goliath than Zeus v. Hades.
Coming off of a season that finished with 2-14, with a combination of Curtis Painter and Kerry Collins under center and a less than inspiring coaching staff on the sidelines, the Colts hit the reset button this off-season by clearing house. Releasing Peyton Manning was expected, but still a huge move while Jim Caldwell was then replaced by former Baltimore Ravens' head coach Chuck Pagano. Pagano has since been diagnosed with a treatable form of Leukemia that has withdrawn him from the Colts' offices. Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians has stepped into an interim head coaching role since.
Arians was brought to the Colts in the off-season to look over the development of the team's new face of the franchise, Andrew Luck. Luck was the first overall pick in this year's draft out of Stanford after rating as arguably the best college prospect in history. Since joining the professional ranks, the grades and observations have been less superlative filled, but only slightly. You see the Colts brought Arians back to the organization after he helped Peyton Manning familiarize himself with the league when he was a rookie.
Back then Arians was just a quarterbacks coach, now he is running the whole team. Under a combination of Arians and Pagano, the Colts have won six games this year, largely because of the outstanding displays of their rookie quarterback. Luck has proven the few doubters who worried about his arm strength wrong already. His awareness and agility in the pocket has allowed the Colts to overcome a less than stellar cast of offensive linemen, while he has already developed a great rapport with his young receivers and an even better one with veteran Reggie Wayne.
Luck's physical talents are evident on the field, but his work rate and intelligence off of it are similar to his predecessor, Peyton Manning. When Manning was a rookie, he struggled a lot more than Luck has however. Manning entered the league at a different time for the NFL and didn't have the benefit of playing in a college offense that prepared him for the NFL as well as Luck's did. Furthermore, Manning didn't have Luck's athletic ability with his feet and his photographic memory. Luck's athleticism allows him to escape difficult situations, while his memory and awareness mean that he won't repeat his mistakes. This has made him a prospect like no other.
Bill Belichick is used to feeding on rookie quarterbacks and dominating those who haven't faced his defense on multiple occasions. With this rookie, he won't be looking to feed on Luck, he might even be intimidated by him. There are very few hyperbole terms that can actually be applied to Luck, because 95 percent of them are simply accurate statements. Considering the Patriots' problems in the secondary, that should spell trouble for the team this weekend.
The one saving grace for the Patriots, well outside of the fact that their offense should put up a basketball score against their defense, is that Luck has struggled on the road so far in his career. The 23-year-old has 15 total touchdowns to nine interceptions on the season as a whole, but eight of his touchdowns have come at home and seven of his interceptions have come on the road.
Devil's advocate would state that this would be the perfect time for Luck to have a staple performance, and even a victory, against a questionable defense for a franchise his own are determined to overcome. Beating Peyton Manning's greatest rival in a season when Manning himself failed to manage that feat, would be a very sweet way for Luck to kickstart his career on the road.