It’s no secret that New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick always looks for an edge before playing an opponent. He’s known for his meticulous (and sometimes possibly illegal) scouting in order to gain a competitive advantage. When he plays the Indianapolis Colts this week, he won’t have to work as hard (or as shadily) as he usually does. The Colts are doing the work for him by appearing on HBO’s Hard Knocks during the 2021 season.
The New England Patriots vs. Indianapolis Colts is the game of the weekend in Week 15
There are a few interesting games on Sunday and Monday night in Week 15. But the best games are on Thursday (Kansas City Chiefs vs. Los Angeles Chargers) and Saturday when the New England Patriots take on the Indianapolis Colts.
This is a game between the No. 1 team in the AFC in New England and the sixth-seeded Indianapolis squad. It is at the Colts’ Lucas Oil Stadium.
The matchup might not feature Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning anymore, but it should be a good game in 2021 nonetheless. The teams are similar in many ways but with slightly different approaches, which should make for an interesting stylistic fight.
Both win with strong rushing attacks. The Colts have a star-driven approach with the NFL’s leading rusher, Jonathan Taylor, carrying the load. The Patriots’ rushing attack features a three-headed monster of Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, and Brandon Bolden.
Both teams have good, not great, quarterbacks running the offense. The Patriots do it with rookie Mac Jones, who seemingly gets better every week. At the same time, Colts head coach Frank Reich has resurrected former Philadelphia Eagles star Carson Wentz’s career in the Midwest.
Both teams also have high-quality defenses, although the New England D is ranked No. 1, while the Indianapolis D is at No. 9.
That might not be the only advantage New England has. Bill Belichick knows some inside information about the Colts that may help him out Saturday, and it’s the Colts’ fault.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick is scouting his opponent through ‘Hard Knocks’
The Indianapolis Colts are participating in the current season of HBO’s Hard Knocks documentary series that follows an NFL team throughout the week.
For a coach like Bill Belichick, who finds competitive advantages in the littlest tidbits, giving him inside info without him having to bug the locker room or surreptitiously record your team seems like a bad idea.
Belichick has no problem admitting that his staff is keeping a close eye on the HBO show ahead of this week’s critical matchup. He told MassLive, in typical Belichick fashion:
We track most everything any team that we play does. Depending on the relevance or importance of that information, at some point, it gets relayed down the line. We have somebody that studies each team. Any relevant comments or information that we think is relevant to the preparation, that could be shared, sure.Bill Belichick on scouting the Indianapolis Colts on ‘Hard Knocks’
Will Belichick earn anything earth-shattering from the mostly human interest-based Hard Knocks?
Probably not. But if any coach in the NFL is going to, chances are Belichick would be the one. No one finds, uses, or exploits weaknesses in opponents like the six-time Super Bowl-winning coach of the New England Patriots.
The Colts are the first-ever NFL team to do ‘Hard Knocks’ in-season
HBO’s Hard Knocks franchise has been around for 20 years now.
It started as a behind-the-scenes look at the training camp of the 2001 Baltimore Ravens, per Rolling Stone. Loaded with big personalities like Shannon Sharpe, Ray Lewis, Tony Siragusa, and head coach Brian Billick, the show was instantly a hit.
However, season 2 with the Dallas Cowboys wasn’t as good. The series went away for five years and came back in 2007 with the Kansas City Chiefs. Fun Fact: Actor and Kansas City native Paul Rudd narrated that season, the only one not voiced by the iconic Liev Schreiber.
There have been 16 training camp Hard Knocks so far. And while they haven’t all been enthralling, the show has produced many memorable characters and moments like Adam “Pac Man” Jones catching his sixth punt in a row while holding the first five in his arms, Antonio Cromartie struggling to name all his children, and, of course, Rex Ryan proclaiming, “Let’s go eat a g****** snack!”
Following in the footsteps of Amazon’s All or Nothing series, which followed the Arizona Cardinals and other professional teams in-season, the Colts are now starring in Hard Knocks In Season: The Indianapolis Colts, which is the first series of its kind for the long-running franchise.
To see how the Colts deal with facing Bill Belichick on Saturday and with the aftermath of the game, you can find the team’s Hard Knocks season at 10 pm EST on HBO every Wednesday.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference