Indianapolis Colts To Face New England Patriots: Rivalry Back On?

If the Indianapolis Colts vs. Denver Broncos was about passing the torch (Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck), then next week's game against the New England Patriots will mark an entirely different trial by fire.

The Indianapolis Colts are hoping to prove at long last that the franchise is no longer "The House That Manning Built."

To do that, they will have to fan the flames of the Colts v. Patriots rivalry and march past New England into the Super Bowl.

It won't be easy.

The New England Patriots are already embroiled in controversy over certain plays that the Baltimore Ravens have suggested weren't exactly kosher. Should the Colts be worried about favoritism or unethical trick plays? Probably not. What they should worry about is ensuring their running game can wear down the Patriots' defense.

Prior to being knocked out in New England, it was the Baltimore Ravens that exposed that their running game (and strong defense) was too much for New England throughout the game.

Unfortunately for Baltimore, they failed to capitalize and ultimately lost in the end.

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh may want us to feel as though this team was robbed thanks to illegal plays and unethical shenanigans, but it will ultimately come down to one play and a last-minute interception.

Since we are at the stage of the NFL season where each play can be make-or-break, there is concern that the Indianapolis Colts may falter in a big game situation, especially as the away team.

This happened earlier in the season when they visited the Cowboys in Dallas.

However, in that game, the Indianapolis Colts had nothing to play for. Even though the loss was embarrassing, there was no major consequence. In this game, the Colts will have everything to play for. So many people have written Indianapolis off since Peyton Manning's departure to Denver.

A 2-14 team without him, or so many football pundits believed, subjective observation did not see how this franchise could survive without a man who is considered one of the greatest quarterbacks in history. By all rights, the Colts making it to the playoffs and now heading into the AFC Championship can considered a message of intent. Come what may, the Indianapolis Colts will continue to thrive in the NFL as a talented and hungry football franchise.

However, this is a young team that has just snatched its first real chance at a major trophy away from the Denver Broncos, no easy feat by any stretch of the imagination. Many wrote them off against the Broncos, and they will no doubt do so again against the Patriots.

Hopefully for the New England Patriots' sake, they will not make the same error of judgment.

Indianapolis Colts vs. New England Patriots for the AFC Title: Who is going to take it and why?