Here's a matchup to watch in the Week 11 game between the Patriots and Colts:
Colts' third-down offense vs. Patriots' third-down defense
The Patriots key on defense is forcing teams into third-and-long situations so as to take some pressure off the league's 30th-ranked passing defense. When teams gain yards on first and second down, it's a near certainty that they will get a first down against the Patriots. New England's defense is last in the league in third-down efficiency.
Peyton Manning out of the no-huddle, shotgun offense is hard to stop, no matter whom he is throwing to. The Colts' offense is seventh in the league in third-down efficiency.
Teams have had a lot of success scoring points against the Patriots this season, and Manning could be licking his chops. The Patriots' best way to slow him down is to force third-and-long situations, but their nickel and dime defenses have failed them on third down this season.
Manning gets rid of the ball quickly, making it difficult for teams to bring him down. One of the Patriots' biggest struggles on third down has been pressuring the quarterback. The Pats' "D" has recorded just five sacks on third down this season, tied for 24th in the league. The Patriots will have to take advantage of any third-down opportunities and make stops.