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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels conspire to beat the Colts
"The rivalry is back on!" Week Five in the NFL opens with a grudge match between the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots on Thursday Night Football, live on Sky Sports Action and Main Event from 12.30am. Here's what you can expect…
October 5, 2018, 12:30am
A mixed bag for the Colts (1-3) so far, who should probably be sporting a better record through four weeks. They earned a superb 21-9 win in Washington against a handy Redskins outfit – thanks in large part to the improved work of their defense – but have since slipped to back-to-back defeats.
They lost a tight one in Philadelphia to the Super Bowl champions and then gifted the Houston Texans their first win thanks to a questionable call to go for it on fourth down from inside their own half in overtime.
As for the Patriots (2-2), they too have had their traditional early-season struggles – suffering defeats to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions in consecutive weeks – but seemed to rectify things (as is their way) with a 38-7 hammering of the previously unbeaten Miami Dolphins last week.
4:39 Highlights of the Dolphins' clash with the Patriots in Week Four of the NFL
Highlights of the Dolphins' clash with the Patriots in Week Four of the NFL
Will the Patriots continue to dominate the Colts? New England have won seven straight games against Indianapolis, including the playoffs, with an average margin of victory of 19 points. Andrew Luck is 0-5 in his career against the Patriots, with more losses and interceptions (10) against them than any other opponent.
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The battle of the coaches: Colts general manager Frank Ballard memorably declared "the rivalry is back on" after Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels reneged on an agreement to become the new head coach in Indianapolis in February, on the very same day his hiring was announced!
Josh McDaniels opted to remain as offensive coordinator for the Patriots
This contest was supposed to be one of pupil versus teacher, much as it was when Matt Patrcia's Lions got the better of Bill Belichick a couple of weeks ago. Instead, it's Frank Reich taking on the double-headed monster of Belichick and McDaniels, still running the New England offense. The former Philadelphia Eagles OC got the better of the pair in last year's Super Bowl – the 41-33 epic in Minnesota – but has had his struggles in Indy already, with his fourth-down call to go for it in overtime last week particularly chastised.
Ones to watch
Can Andrew Luck gain revenge for the defeat to New England in the 2014 AFC Championship game?
For the Colts, look no further than Andrew Luck, as his NFL comeback continues at the scene of his biggest heartbreak – a 'Deflategate' rematch of the 2014 AFC Championship game. Luck comes into the contest having had his struggles through his first four games back in the NFL following the shoulder surgery that kept him out of all of 2017, but had his best outing in Week Four when throwing for a career-high 464 yards and four TDs in Houston. Watch out too for Luck's favourite target, T.Y. Hilton, who hauled in 115 yards in that game and, on the Colts defense, there's rookie linebacker Darius Leonard, who has been a tackling machine since entering the league, leading the NFL with 54.
Luck's quest to rediscover his best
Andrew Luck's NFL comeback continues at the scene of his biggest heartbreak as the Colts take on the Patriots on Thursday Night Football.
For the Patriots, there's of course Tom Brady. And, while he may well have to do without top tight end target Rob Gronkowski – who is questionable for the game, with an ankle injury – he at least gets back his go-to slot receiver Julian Edelman, returning after a four-game suspension and having missed all of 2017 to a knee injury. Also, Josh Gordon saw action for the first time last week as he continues to be eased into the offense following his trade from the Cleveland Browns – expect his individual tally to improve from two catches for 32 yards. Also, don't sleep on the Patriots run game after rookie Sony Michel racked up his first 100-yard game in last week's win over Miami.
Julian Edelman is set to see his first action for the Patriots in well over a year
Watch the Indianapolis Colts at the New England Patriots on Thursday Night Football, live on Sky Sports Action from 12.30am on Friday morning.
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