FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — When Tom Brady studies his next opponent, he’s searching for holes in the defense, weak areas that he can exploit, match-ups that favor the New England Patriots.

But sometimes someone on the offensive side also catches his eye. And this week that would be the guy wearing No. 12 for the Indianapolis Colts, third-year quarterback Andrew Luck. The Patriots play the Colts on Sunday night at Lucas Oil Stadium in a game not only matching two of the best teams in the AFC but two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.

Brady is a sure-fire Hall of Famer, winner of three Super Bowls, twice Super Bowl MVP, twice NFL MVP. Luck is the next big thing, already featured four times on the cover of Sports Illustrated, which declared him “Best QB in the NFL” back in August.

So what does New England’s No. 12 think of his counterpart?

Well, said Brady, “He does a lot of things I wish I could do.”

Brady had more to say but you get the gist. He’s a fan.

Luck, 25, has been doing things big since he came into the NFL in 2012, when the Colts selected him with the first overall pick of the draft. He threw for the most yards (4,374) by a rookie and also has the record for passing yards (8,196) after two seasons. He also set a record with 11 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime in his first two years.

This year the 6-foot-4, 240-pound Stanford product became the fourth quarterback in NFL history to throw for at least 3,000 yards in a team’s first nine games (Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Brady are the others). Luck has thrown for at least 300 yards in seven consecutive games, third in NFL history. Brees holds the record at nine.

He leads the NFL with 3,085 passing yards and is second to Manning with 26 touchdown passes. Among quarterbacks, only Cam Newton has scored more rushing touchdowns than Luck since 2012 (18-13).

“He’s fast enough that he can outrun guys but he’s also strong enough to kind of shrug off (defenders) and throw with guys … when they’re wrapped around his legs and stuff like that,” said Brady. “He’s pretty phenomenal at that.”

Brady, 12 years older than Luck, is of course no slouch. After a slow start, Brady has thrown for 2,392 yards and 22 touchdowns – with only three interceptions. Luck has thrown nine picks.

Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne, in his 14th season, has seen enough of Brady over the years to know there is a common thread with Luck – as well as Manning, who preceded Luck in Indy. And that’s the ability to lead.

“Their main objective is to win games,” said Wayne, who holds the NFL record for consecutive games (79) with at least three catches. “When you’re a quarterback, you’re going to get that leadership role and as a receiver, as a teammate, when your quarterback has that trait, has that halo around him to go out there and win games, you can’t do nothing but go out there and give everything you possibly can give. You just want to do everything possible to add your two cents in.

“When you’ve got those three guys, that’s what you see. There’s nothing but winning and doing everything possible to get it done.”

Wayne joked that Brady appeared to be not only beating Father Time, “he’s jabbing Father Time. When you sit back and you watch him, it just seems like the same calm and collected guy that sits back there; he takes what the defense gives him and he just picks you apart.”

Yes, Luck may have the arm strength but Brady knows where to put the ball.

Now all Luck has to do is beat the Patriots, against whom he has been merely mortal. Granted, the sampling is small, but he’s struggled in his two games with the Patriots, both at Gillette Stadium.

Yes, he has thrown for four touchdowns and 665 yards against the Patriots, but he’s also thrown seven interceptions – two were returned for touchdowns – and been sacked four times. His quarterback rating is 58.2, which isn’t good.

The Pats easily won both games, 59-24 on Nov. 18, 2012 and 43-22 on Jan. 11, 2014 in the playoffs.

Luck threw four interceptions in that playoff loss, two setting up Patriots touchdowns.

Brady was especially good in the 2012 win over the Colts, passing for 331 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He was merely pedestrian in the playoff win – 13 of 25 for 198 yards – but didn’t need to be anything more because the Pats rushed for 243 yards, 166 by LaGarrette Blount.

The Patriots used an offensive strategy similar to the ones they employed against Manning when he was with the Colts in that they wanted to control the clock. New England had a 10-minute advantage in time of possession (35:00 to 25:00) in that playoff game.

It might be harder to do that this week because the rushing game has been severely weakened by Stevan Ridley’s injury. But Brady knows the Pats still must be at their best Sunday night.

“We realize we have a big job, too,” said Brady. “You’re right, my focus is on other side of the ball, but you also know you’re not going to be able to score 13 points and win the game.”