Odds for Colts, Saints to Stay Unbeaten
by Matt Severance - 12/10/2009
The New Orleans Saints have no right being unbeaten (one could argue the Colts don't either, but the Saints really don't). The Washington Redskins had New Orleans beaten Sunday but every single break went the Saints' way. So are they good, lucky or both?
--The Saints got a touchdown off a Drew Brees pick late in the first half. It was third-and-26 at the Skins 44 when Brees basically threw up a prayer over the middle that was picked off by Washington's Kareem Moore, who could have simply fallen down and the Skins would have led 17-10 at the half. Instead, Moore ran for about 14 yards before he was stripped by Saints WR Robert Meachem, who then went 44 yards for a score.
--Washington had a chance to put the game out of reach with a Shaun Suisham 23-yard field goal with 1:52 left, but he pushed it right. Suisham, by the way, was cut loose by the Skins this week. As he should have been.
--With no timeouts left and down seven, Brees then drove the Saints 80 yards in a ridiculous 33 seconds to tie the game.
--In overtime, it was a foregone conclusion that New Orleans would win at that point, and the Saints did on a Garrett Hartley field goal - in his first game with New Orleans, he had four field goals.
--The win was the Saints' first in a sub-40 degree game since 1995. It also was the longest winning streak ever ended by an overtime win. And it was the Saints' second win this season in which they trailed by at least 10 points in the fourth quarter on the road. No other team has won once in that scenario.
Again, are they lucky or good?
But here we are with New Orleans and Indianapolis at 12-0, the latest in a season two teams have ever gone unbeaten. Bodog has posted updated odds on both teams finishing the regular season without a loss:
Saints to go undefeated: 3/2
Colts to go undefeated: 2/1
Both teams go undefeated: 6/1
Let's take a quick look at their schedules before analyzing their chances.
Saints: at Atlanta, vs. Dallas, vs. Tampa Bay, at Carolina
Colts: vs. Denver, at Jacksonville, vs. Jets, at Buffalo.
Starting with New Orleans, this week's game with Atlanta would appear to be a major hurdle; but that's only if Matt Ryan and Michael Turner play, which is a big if. Next Saturday's game with Dallas is likely to be much more important for the Cowboys, who might be fighting for their playoff lives. But the Cowboys historically go in the tank in December. You can forget about that Bucs game, while the Panthers will be playing out the string in Week 17.
As for Indy, it certainly will be favored in all four games. But this week's game against Denver - coached, of course, by Josh McDaniels, the offensive coordinator on the 16-0 2007 Patriots - could be a bit of a trap. The Broncos are No. 2 in the league against the pass, so they might be able to slow Peyton Manning. Plus, Denver has had success when it can run the ball and limit Kyle Orton to a game manager, and the Colts aren't a great run defense.
Still, Indy's biggest test no doubt comes in Week 15 at Jacksonville, which is fighting for a playoff spot of its own. That matchup is next Thursday, and those short week games generally always favor the team that doesn't have to travel. It's also the Jags' home finale, so there might actually be a sellout. Remember that Jacksonville only lost 14-12 in Indy in Week 1, and the Jaguars have improved by a lot since then. Indy has won four of the past five in the series, however. The Jets in Week 16 should pose no threat to Indianapolis, but that Week 17 game in the elements in Buffalo could be one of those that Jim Caldwell doesn't want to risk his star players to injury, even if 16-0 is on the table.
So what's the best bet? Both are dome teams, so that's always a concern when they head outdoors. But the Saints don't figure to have a game in the elements unless something unusual happens in Week 17 at Carolina. Indy has that one obvious elements game in Buffalo and a short week trap in Jacksonville.
I'd say that all things being equal, that New Orleans has a better shot.
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