New England's great adaptability

How the Patriots can exploit weaknesses in the AFC playoff teams

Originally Published: December 27, 2012
By KC Joyner | ESPN Insider
Tom Brady AP Photo/Matt DunhamTom Brady and the New England Patriots know what it takes to win in the postseason.

One of the strongest implements in Bill Belichick's coaching toolbox is his ability to tailor a game plan to take advantage of an opponent's weakness. It is why the New England Patriots' rosters over the years have been structured to allow for as much personnel flexibility as possible. Belichick never wants to be in a situation in which his team does not have the weapon needed to attack whatever limitations the upcoming opponent has.

That roster design has paid off with big postseason rewards in the past and looks like it could do so again in the 2012 playoffs. Almost all the AFC playoff participants bring multiple strengths to the table, but almost all of them also possess at least one significant flaw that New England should be able to exploit.

Indianapolis Colts

Weakness: Andrew Luck's inability to play a high percentage game

As great a season as Luck has had this year, he has not shown much progress in the area of bad decision rate (a metric that measures how often a quarterback makes a mental error that leads to a turnover opportunity for the opposing team). He is currently sitting at a 3.0 percent BDR and has been at or above that figure for most of the 2012 season (anything under 2.0 is considered good).

This is not a pro-level anomaly for Luck while operating in the vertically inclined Bruce Arians offense, as Luck had a similar BDR level in his senior season with the Stanford Cardinal.