In theory, I'd love to make some sort of food-related bet with Brendan. For my part, I could offer lawbstah, or chowdah, or cawd cahpahccio. But I'm wary as to what Brendan might counter with.
1) I'm afraid he'd give me shoplifted meat. 2) I'm trying to think of some traditional Indianan fare, but in my head I just keep picturing a Denny's. I suppose I could be happy with a Moons Over My Hammy. So, start scrambling those Grade B eggs and melting down that processed cheese, Brendan!
The Pats are by far the most balanced team the Colts have faced in these playoffs. The New England defense is just a notch below that of the Ravens. (In points allowed—according to Bill Belichick, the only defensive statistic that matters—the Pats were second in the league behind Baltimore.) And the Pats' offense is light-years ahead of both the (feeble) Ravens and the (Herm Edwards-coached) Chiefs.
That said, this game will be tight. Familiarity breeds not only contempt, but effective game-planning. So, let's go to the old-school breakdown.
When the Colts Have the Ball
I think the Pats' big, tough front seven will mostly stuff the Colts' run game. Indy will get its yards through the air, and I think the game will in large part come down to New England's red-zone defense (which has been great all season). If the Colts are forced to settle for field goals, they'll lose.
When the Pats Have the Ball
Running back Laurence Maroney could have a monster day. When he's on turf, Maroney is fast, slashing, and powerful. I expect the Pats to run the ball out of spread formations, with a bevy of receivers keeping Colts safety Bob Sanders off the line. Or at least keeping him honest. If Sanders can creep forward and tee off on the running game, he's a weapon—if he's forced to account for receivers Jabar Gaffney and Reche Caldwell streaking deep, the line of scrimmage will open up for the Patriots' ground game.
When I Sincerely Hope the Pats and Not the Colts Will Have the Ball
The nervous-making element in this game (for me, and I imagine conversely for Brendan) is Tom Brady's accuracy. It's been up and down all year. When he's totally on, he's a cold-blooded assassin. When he's totally off, he's a skinny guy wearing too much eye black. To exploit the Colts' weaknesses, he'll have to loft a few shots downfield off play-action run fakes. The last time the Pats and Colts played, these passes were off target—either sailing out of bounds or, more tragically, into the arms of waiting Colts defenders. If Brady can nail one or two of these long strikes on Sunday, while avoiding any wobbly ducks thrown into double coverage, the Pats should be in good shape.
Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen. Longtime Brady fans know that our Tom can be brought low by an evil temptress. In the past, this temptress took the form of Tara Reid. I am convinced that she tanked the Pats' 2002 season. The moment we learned that Tom Brady was dating a woman who'd named her dog "Stoli," all Pats fans knew we were in trouble. Sure enough, Brady's play was inconsistent that year, and the Pats failed to make the playoffs.
Brady's next high-profile romance was with actress Bridget Moynihan. I always felt very comfortable with this relationship, because Moynihan was raised in western Massachusetts. No self-respecting Bay Stater would knowingly impede the Patriot dynasty. And sure enough, this handsome union produced at least one, and maybe two, Super Bowls. (The chronology of their romance is a little hard to nail down. By the way, Reid is from New Jersey—enough said there, I think.)
Late this season, Brady and Moynihan parted ways. I like to think the pain of this breakup (and not the pain of, say, a torn rotator cuff or a tendonitic elbow) accounts entirely for Brady's inconsistent play. (I'll note here that if the Pats hadn't won the division, I would have ritually burned my I, Robot DVD. First, I would have had to buy an I, Robot DVD. But immediately after buying it—and maybe watching the special features—I would have burned it.)
Now it appears that Brady might be dating supermodel Gisele Bündchen. Geography-wise, I can see no objections to Bündchen, as she is Brazilian. Brazilian women are known for one thing, and one thing only—their unadorned, unconcealed fondness for the New England Patriots.
I've been busily researching bios and (OK, mostly) pictures of Bündchen to determine if her presence in Brady's life is a good or bad omen for the Pats. I haven't found much compelling evidence either way. She doesn't appear to be a drunkard, like that slut Tara Reid. However, her Wikipedia entry mentions rumors of marijuana use. (Which suggests she might be better off dating Michael Vick. Or me. Once in a while, at a party.)
Prediction for Sunday
I will order Dominos and drink too much beer. Also, I will wish that Gisele Bundchen was coming over to my apartment. With weed.
Prediction for Sunday's game
Patriots win, 24-17. As the game ends, network cameras spot Bundchen in a luxury box, giving Peyton Manning the choke sign.
Question for Brendan
Who dat say dey blah blah blah?
Can I get the Moons Over My Hammy with hash browns on the side? And do you have Gisele's phone number?