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Chuck Pagano: Trent Richardson can be key factor

This weekend offered one unconquerable truth to NFL teams with Lombardi dreams: run or die.

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As our own Chris Wesseling pointed out Sunday night, power football carried the day for teams that advanced to next Sunday's conference title games. This trend did not escape Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano, who elaborated on the topic during his end-of-season news conference Monday.

"If you look at the games that were played this weekend, and you look at the amount of rushes, I think our game New England rushed 46 times," said Pagano, whose team was run over by the Patriots on Saturday night.

"So will we ever change? No," Pagano continued. "I don't think it's ever more prevalent -- the deeper you go, the farther you get in the playoffs. You have to be able to run the football and stop the run. And I think statistics alone from this past weekend are enough to continue to make me be a believer."

This is where Trent Richardson comes in. The running back was a non-factor since being acquired from the Cleveland Browns for a first-round draft pick in September. Pagano still believes Richardson can be a big part of Indy's future.

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"We all understand how he got here. He was thrown into the mix like that," Pagano said. "So now he has an opportunity to go through an offseason and be with us for a full year headed into 2014 campaign.

"He wants to be great," Pagano added. "He's got all the talent, he's got all the ability. We would never have done what we did if we didn't believe that. We look for him to have a great offseason and have a great 2014 campaign."

Pagano's hopes of having the power attack he craves is directly attached to Richardson's ability to resurrect a once-promising career. You have to wonder if the coach is as confident as he lets on.

The latest "Around The League Podcast" broke down all four Divisional Round games and looked ahead to a monster Conference Championship weekend.

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