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Jan 18, 2015 10:25 AM

It's game day: Patriots host Colts in AFC Championship game


FOXBOROUGH - January football is where champions are made. It's a time when teams show their true colors, for better or for worse. In New England, January success has become habitual.

If the Patriots defeat the Colts on Sunday in Tom Brady's ninth career AFC championship game, it will be the team's sixth Super Bowl appreance during the 'Brady-Belichick' era.

What will the keys to today's game be? It depends who you ask.

Tim O'Sullivan of the Concord Monitor writes, "New England's retooled defense needs to prove its worth" in his Sunday article.

Christopher L. Gasper of the Boston Globe pointed to the health of the "Big Three"--Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and Darelle Revis--making the difference.

On the flip side, Chris Wesseling of NFL.com argues in his 'around the NFL' segment, that in order for Indianapolis to find success, Hakeem Nicks needs to get going.

In an ESPN.com Q&A style piece, reporters for the Colts (Mike Wells) and Patriots (Mike Reiss) break-down the game by answering a series of questions.

The question with the most importance? Who will be the 'X-factor' for each team.

Just like Wesseling, Wells feels the Colts' wide receivers will be Indy's X-factor alluding to Super Bowl XLVI where Hakeem Nicks and the Giants' wideouts tore apart New England's secondary on their way to a 21-17 victory over the New England.

For the Patriots, Reiss mentions an often unsung aspect of the game: special teams units.

Reiss feels that with the sloppy weather forecasted for game time in Foxborough, special teams will make a significant impact.

For me, it all comes down to the head coaching matchup between Bill Belichick and Indy's Chuck Pagano.

Belichick is arguably the best head coach of all-time and year after year puts together a formidable foe in the New England Patriots.

Chuck Pagano, while successful in his first three years as a head coach compiling a 33-15 record, doesn't stack up to Bill Belichick, the man who always seems to call the right play at the right time.

Plus, Brady's getting old and it's tough to imagine he isn't hungry for another Super Bowl appearance.

With that, there's only one question that remains. . .

Is it 6:40 p.m. yet?

» There are multiple updates to this story. Please click here to get the latest information.


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