Free Expert NFL Picks: Indianaplois Colts at New England Patriots Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 1/15/2015
Whenever Peyton Manning and Tom Brady face off, I'm just as excited as everyone at the beginning of the week, but by game time I am pretty much fed up with all the talk surrounding the two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks and generational peers. That said, I am disappointed Manning and Brady won't play in Sunday's AFC Championship Game in Foxboro. It would have been their 17th all-time meeting and perhaps the last in the playoffs (New England is at Denver next regular season). Now we may never see them on the same field again as Manning decides whether or not to retire. I would be shocked if he did, although I'm not clear how Coach John Fox being let go by Denver will affect things.
So instead we get this generation's Manning, Andrew Luck, facing Brady for the fourth time in his young career. And if Luck follows his playoff pattern to date, the Colts won't win this game but will Super Bowl LI in Houston. You see, Luck lost his first-ever playoff game, a wild-card defeat in 2012 in Baltimore. Step 1: getting to the playoffs. Then last year, he won his first playoff game, a wild-card home win over Kansas City, before getting thumped in New England. Step 2: win a playoff game, reach divisional round. Luck's Colts won a wild-card home game vs. the Bengals in these playoffs and then were the only underdogs to win last week as they upset Denver. Step 3: win first road playoff game, reach the conference championship. So I'm putting some money down on the Colts to win the AFC next year and then the Super Bowl the year after that.
At Bovada , New England is 19/10 to win this year's Super Bowl and 5/14 to win the AFC. The Patriots are -230 not to win the Super Bowl. Indy is 13/2 and 11/5, respectively. It is -1200 not to win the Super Bowl. The Patriots are opening 3-point dogs against potentially Seattle but -2.5 against Green Bay. Indy is +6.5 against the Seahawks and +3 against the Pack.
Colts at Patriots Betting Story Lines
Injury-wise, everyone of note should play this week, and that's how it should be (that Colts guy charged with rape wasn't a major contributor). The only minor concern is Patriots center Bryan Stork, who left last week's game in the second quarter with a knee injury and didn't return. The team still thinks he will play.
I took the points last week in the Ravens-Patriots game, and that paid off, although I'm still surprised that Brady was able to rally the Patriots from two 14-point deficits -- a first in league playoff history -- in the 35-31 win. He was terrific, throwing for 367 yards (career playoff high), three touchdowns and a pick. Brady hit Brandon LaFell on a 23-yard score with 5:13 left in the thrilling game. Brady now has an NFL record 46 playoff TD passes. Rob Gronkowski also came up huge -- remember, he missed last year's playoffs -- with seven catches for 108 yards and a TD.
So that's the good news. That bad is that New England couldn't run the ball at all, managing 14 rushing yards on 13 carries. You probably aren't going to win a Super Bowl totally abandoning the running game. Ask Denver last year. Obviously allowing Baltimore, not exactly an offensive juggernaut, 31 points and 428 yards also isn't ideal. Joe Flacco pretty much had his way with that New England secondary until a killer late interception.
I didn't take Indy and the points last week, so I was clearly shocked that the Colts won 24-13 as the Broncos were the AFC's only unbeaten team at home. Luck was 27-for-34 for 265 yards, two touchdowns and two picks. Not incredible stats, but he made all the important tough throws when needed. The Broncos were all over Luck -- he was under duress on 15 of his 45 dropbacks -- but Luck didn't take a sack and was 8-for-13 for 99 yards and a TD under pressure. The Colts are so down now on former starting running back Trent Richardson, whom they gave up a first-round pick for in a trade with Cleveland last year, that he wasn't even active. Boom Herron was OK, rushing 23 times for 63 yards and a touchdown.
I am not ready to say the Indy defense was what caused Manning to have one of the worst playoff games of his career as there were reports he has played through a torn right quadriceps for a few weeks. But Colts' No. 1 cornerback Vontae Davis was great and held Demaryius Thomas to five catches and 59 yards.
Luck is 0-3 against the Patriots, losing each by at least 21 points. The teams met in Indianapolis in Week 11 -- both teams off a bye week -- and New England rolled 42-20. That was in the midst of the Patriots' dominating seven-game winning streak where they blew six teams out. Fantasy football players will remember that as the Jonas Gray game as the Patriots tailback came out of nowhere with 201 yards rushing and four TDs. He's back on the bench and didn't even play last week. Brady threw for 257 yards, two TDs and two picks as New England had 503 yards and 33 first downs. The Colts had 322 yards, including just 19 rushing. That was back when Ahmad Bradshaw (out for season) and Richardson were sharing carries.
Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots AFC Championship Game Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , New England is a 7-point favorite (+110) with alternate lines of 7.5 (+130), 6.5 (-110) and 6 (-118). The Pats are -270 on the moneyline and the Colts +230. The total is 53.5 points. Indianapolis is 12-5-1 ATS (6-3 on road) and 9-9 "over/under" 5-4 on road. New England is 9-8 ATS (5-3 at home) and 10-7 O/U (6-3 at home).
The Colts are 7-3 ATS in their past 10 following an ATS win. The Patriots are 8-1 ATS in their past nine at home vs. teams with a winning road record. New England is 3-9 ATS in its past 12 home playoff games. The Pats have failed to cover five straight AFC title games. The under is 6-0 in Indy's past six overall. The under is 4-0 in New England's past four AFC title games. It is 5-2 in New England's past seven games overall. The over is 4-0 in the past four meetings in Foxboro.
Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots Expert Picks and Betting Predictions
A few interesting trends here that make me want to take the points. Teams that are underdogs of seven or more points against Brady in the playoffs have covered nine of 14 games. And in the Brady era, the Patriots have failed to cover in five straight conference championship games and are 1-3 ATS as favorites of a touchdown or more in the AFC title game.
Luck is going to have to win this game by himself, but he still throws too many picks. The Patriots are better overall on offense and defense. I don't trust Indy to be able to run much, and New England can stick Darrelle Revis on top Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton, who was held to three catches and 24 yards in the first meeting. The Colts are going to blitz often and Brady torched it in the first meeting.
A Patriots win would make Brady the first NFL QB with 20 postseason victories and be a record 21st for Coach Bill Belichick, who is currently tied with Tom Landry for the most. Plus, the Pats even got an extra day to rest up having played last Saturday. I'll give the 6.5 and go over.
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