Unlike the New England offense, the Colts offense’ does have an advantage in specific situations — the most important ones. The Patriots have been the league’s worst defense on third down, while the Colts rank 11th on offense. The advantage is even greater in the red zone, where the Patriots defense is 27th while Peyton Manning’s crew is number one.
One thing we know about both Tom Brady and Peyton and Manning is that they both excel at picking apart coverage and targeting the opponents’ weakest link. (Wherefore art thou, Roc Alexander?) That’s important because the early results of the Football Outsiders game charting project show that each team has one cornerback who far surpasses his teammates. In games we’ve charted so far, Colts left cornerback Jerraud Powers is allowing 4.5 yards per pass in coverage with a success rate of 67 percent and an average of 3.4 yards after catch. Right cornerback Kelvin Hayden, on the other hand, is allowing 8.9 yards per pass with a success rate of 47 percent and 4.6 yards after catch. (Success rate for cornerbacks is explained here.)