FOXBORO -- This weekend at Gillette Stadium we will see a Patriots-Colts matchup unlike any other in the last decade at least: Tom Brady versus The Rookie.
It was strange enough seeing Brady v. Not-Manning last year when Indianapolis' quarterback of 13 years was sidelined by injury. This season, the weight of one of the NFL's most storied rivalries falls on the shoulders of a 23-year old.
Or does it?
"I didnt view it like that," Andrew Luck said of taking the helm in Indy. "Obviously as an athlete, I try and put a fair amount of pressure on myself to go out and succeed, but I realized if I got caught up in trying to fill Peytons shoes and compare myself to him every day Id probably go crazy. I feel its unattainable, so I try not to be like that."
He respects the history as a fan of the game.
"As a young quarterback growing up, I took the opportunity to watch the sort of benchmarks of quarterback play. There were some great playoff games at both stadiums. I think Gillette had grass a while back so it got fairly muddy sometimes late in the year watching them play," Luck laughed. "Those are always fun for a lot of people, including me."
But Luck doesn't view Sunday's matchup as even a new chapter in that well-worn, treasured tale -- he's starting his own series. And that's about respect to the Brady-Manning rivalry as much as anything else.
"I definitely dont deserve to be in that sentence or breath as those two," the rookie said humbly. "If someday I can play at a level that Peyton and Tom play at, then thatd be a quarterbacks dream come true."
BOSTON – Here are a few odds and ends to keep an eye on heading into tonight’s game against the Sacramento Kings:
· The Celtics have won eight in a row over the Kings in Boston, with the last loss to Sacramento at the TD Garden coming on Jan. 19, 2007. Current Celtic Gerald Green was in the starting lineup that night.
· Only six times in franchise history have the Celtics launched 38 or more 3-pointers in a game, four of which came in the month of November this season.
· Speaking of 3-pointers, 36.2 percent of Boston’s shots are 3s. That ranks fifth in the league behind Houston, Cleveland, Brooklyn and Golden State.
· Don’t be surprised if Avery Bradley gets off to a good start tonight, especially from 3-point range. He’s shooting 59.1 percent on 3s in the first quarter which ranks second in the league.
· Isaiah Thomas tallied 395 points scored in November, the most by a Celtic since John Havlicek had 406 points in November during the 1971-1972 season.
· Boston leads the NBA in points scored (46.3 per game) by second-round picks. The Celtics’ second-round picks include Isaiah Thomas; Jae Crowder; Amir Johnson; Jonas Jerebko; Demetrius Jackson and Jordan Mickey.
· The Celtics are 5-0 this season when they outrebound an opponent.
· Tonight’s game will be Boston’s fifth set of back-to-back games this season. In the first game, they are 3-1 this season. On the second night, they are 2-2.
BOSTON – When it comes to defense, the Celtics are quick to claim that it is indeed the foundation for which their team is built upon.
Still, far too often this season, we have seen cracks in their usually Teflon-tough defense, the kind that ultimately means the difference between winning and losing.
The Celtics’ defense will once again need to step up and play well tonight against a Sacramento squad that has shown it can fill it up offensively of late.
Sacramento (7-11) has scored 100 or more points in eight of their past 10 games. In that span, their 107.2 points per game ranks ninth in the league.
In that same span, the Celtics have allowed opponents to score 100.3 points per game, which ranks 10th in the NBA in fewest points allowed.
And when it comes to winning, limiting teams to less than 100 points has been huge in Boston’s win total.
The Celtics have held eight opponents to 100 points or less this season.
Their record in those games? 8-0.
Within that limited scoring, Boston must also make sure teams don’t get into a nice groove shooting the ball.
Boston is 0-5 this season when an opponent shoots 48 percent or better from the field.
While there are several things Boston must do to be successful, having the right kind of defensive disposition ranks at or near the top of that list in their efforts to play with the kind of defensive success that gave so many hope that this would the year Boston would hold court among the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
“We have to get a little more nastier on the defensive end and not let a team come in and get comfortable,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder.