Patriots-Colts matchup of the day: Wednesday

Posted Nov. 17, 2010 @ 3:55 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

Here's a matchup to watch in the Week 11 game between the Patriots and Colts:

Patriots TEs Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez vs. Colts safeties Aaron Francisco and Antoine Bethea

Getting Bethea back in the Colts' secondary was big for Indy, as they have played without Bob Sanders since Week One. Francisco was thrust into the starting role and does not have a whole lot of game experience. The Colts allowed Bengals rookie TE Jermaine Gresham to have the best game of his short career, with 9-85-1 receiving in Week 10.

They will have a tougher task against the Patriots and their elite rookie tight ends. Hernandez had been the star all season, leading the team in receiving yards through nine games before tallying zero receptions in Week 10. Gronkowski is the red-zone threat, leading all rookies with six TD receptions. But Gronkowski also gets looks in between the 20s and he caught 5-72-3 against the Steelers.

The struggle in covering Gronkowski and Hernandez is competing with their athleticism and finding the right matchup. The Colts could throw a cornerback or a linebacker at the tight ends, although their linebacking corps is banged up. One way to slow down the Patriots' offense is to take away short-to-intermediate passes, something at which Gronkowski and Hernandez have thrived.