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Luck looking to make some against Brady, Patriots

November 14, 2014

The New England Patriots are the NFL’s hottest team with five straight victories, including a romp past the Denver Broncos before last week’s bye. They go to Indianapolis on Sunday, when a win for either could set up home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs.

After besting Peyton Manning, Patriots passer Tom Brady faces off with Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.

Luck leads the league with 3,085 yards passing and has thrown 26 touchdowns, second only to Manning, his predecessor in Indianapolis.

Luck has already beaten both Mannings, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick. The most glaring omission from that list: Three-time Super Bowl winner Brady, who is 2-0 against Luck, generally regarded as the best young quarterback in the league.

“He does a lot of things I wish I could do,” Brady said, referring to Luck. “He’s big, fast, shrugs off blockers. He makes a lot of extended plays. He’s a great passer.”

Luck has similar thoughts about Brady.

“He (Brady) does a lot of things I can’t do. There’s a lot of Super Bowls so far,” Luck said, laughing. “His mastery of the quarterback position is something I definitely admire from afar, and what he’s able to do consistently for every game for so many years.”

Luck and Brady are likely to lean heavily on their tight ends again. Rob Gronkowski leads the Patriots with 663 yards receiving and eight touchdowns and is second with 49 catches. Colts tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener don’t get as much publicity, but they’re combined numbers — 48 catches, 669 yards and 11 touchdowns — impress.

Colts-Patriots is one of five Week 11 games which pit teams with solid Super Bowl aspirations, including Arizona-Detroit, Kansas City-Seattle, Green Bay-Philadelphia and New Orleans-Cincinnati.

The Cardinals and Lions aren’t used to being this relevant this late in the season. The winner at University of Phoenix Stadium will have the inside track for best record in the NFC. But the Cardinals head into the home game without starting quarterback Carson Palmer, out for the season with a knee injury. That means Drew Stanton must step up, which doesn’t seem to faze coach Bruce Arians.

“Every guy in that room knows that he’ll be ultimately prepared and more than capable of beating everybody that we play,” Arians said.

This one might be decided by the defenses: Detroit is ranked first overall, and Arizona leads the NFC with 19 takeaways.

Packers-Eagles could be a shootout, if Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez, in for the injured Nick Foles, can keep up with Rodgers.

Rodgers has been unstoppable recently, throwing for six touchdowns in the first half against Chicago last Sunday. The Packers’ defense is starting to come around, as well.

So is Philly’s, with linebacker Connor Barwin having 10 1/2 sacks since Week 4, the most in the NFL, and Brandon Graham tied for first with four forced fumbles.

The Seahawks are on a three-game winning streak, but they face a Chiefs side which has won four straight, allowing just 50 points in that span, and six of seven.

The Chiefs are the only NFL team that has not allowed a touchdown rushing. Marshawn Lynch ran for four last week against the New York Giants, and tops the league with 12. Seattle has run for at least 100 yards in seven straight games.

Also on Sunday, it’s Minnesota at Chicago, Denver at St. Louis, Houston at Cleveland, Atlanta at Carolina, Tampa Bay at Washington, San Francisco at N.Y. Giants, and Oakland at San Diego. On Monday, Pittsburgh is at Tennessee.

The action began on Thursday, when the Miami Dolphins rallied in the second half to knock off the Buffalo Bills 22-9. Despite 3 1-2 sacks by Buffalo’s Mario Williams, Ryan Tannehill threw for two touchdowns after the break and the Dolphins shut down the Bills two periods.

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