NFL Expert Picks Against the Spread: Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots
Here's hoping you followed my advice for last Thursday's Vikings-Rams matchup, which was an offensive showcase and an L.A. 38-31 win. I took the Rams at -6.5 on the alternate line, because you simply should never bet a team as a 7-point favorite for push reasons. The total also went way "over", so it was a sweep.
Now, there's probably not going to be a better TNF matchup than Vikings-Rams or maybe not as entertaining of a game in 2018, but this Thursday's Colts-Patriots showdown has some juicy storylines as these franchises despise each other.
Colts-Patriots used to be a great rivalry for football-only reasons because it was always Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady. Things started getting really wacky between the organizations at the AFC title game following the 2014 season. Of course, that was the game where the Colts went running to the league to tattle on Brady deflating footballs - spawning the term "Deflategate." It cost the Patriots a million bucks and a draft pick and Brady, eventually, a four-game suspension. Naturally, Pats fans believe it was all about nothing and that Roger Goodell has it out for the franchise. I think most other football fans believe that the franchise pushes the envelope in almost every possible way. This is the Colts' first trip to New England since then, so I'm looking forward to what the fans do.
Then this past offseason, the Colts had sent out media notice about a press conference for the following morning to hire Pats offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as head coach. Indy had to wait until after the Super Bowl to officially do so. One problem: Pats owner Robert Kraft went to McDaniels at the last minute with a huge raise and, many believe, a coach-in-waiting unofficial tag for whenever Bill Belichick retires. The Colts were left absolutely humiliated, and I know that Kraft took special joy in that fact. Shoot, he probably doesn't even try to stop McDaniels from becoming a head coach of any other franchise (maybe the Jets).
The Colts had to settle for Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich as a McDaniels fallback. And all eyes will be on Reich Thursday because of his baffling decision in Sunday's loss.
Colts at Patriots Betting Story Lines
I think we all have been guilty of playing armchair quarterback when our team is in a tight game. We like to imagine what we would do as a head coach in a big moment. I've spoken to a few Colts fans about Reich's idiotic call to go on fourth-and-4 from the Colts' 43 with under a minute left in overtime Sunday vs. Houston. If Indy punts that ball, it's almost surely going to end up a 34-34 tie.
Instead, Andrew Luck, who had a great game otherwise, threw low to his receiver on the play. The Texans were already practically in field-goal range and would win it 37-34 on Ka'imi Fairbairn's 37-yard kick (he actually missed the first try, but Reich had iced him with a time out at the last second). Reich said he's not interested in playing for a tie. I give him credit for that, but it was clearly not the right decision. Maybe if the Colts were 2-1 entering that game instead of 1-2. Now, their playoff hopes are already on life support.
Luck looked back to his pre-shoulder injury form in throwing for 462 yards and four scores. Alas, he had to throw it 62 times because as usual the Colts can't run the ball. In addition, top receiver T.Y. Hilton (four catches, 115 yards Sunday) tweaked a hamstring and is reportedly doubtful for this one. That's a big loss. Rookie linebacker Darius Leonard, who has been spectacular, is also in question with an ankle injury. Indy will get running back Robert Turbin back off a four-game suspension, but he's not that great.
The Patriots avoided their first three-game skid in 16 years with a dominant 38-7 win over the Dolphins. Brady threw for 274 yards and three scores, and rookie Sony Michel blew up with 112 yards rushing and a score. Josh Gordon made his Patriots debut and had two catches. The defense was the story in allowing just 172 yards and holding the Fins scoreless until about two minutes remained.
Rob Gronkowski did leave with an ankle injury that's apparently not serious but it being a short week is questionable. On the bright side, Brady gets back his other security blanket in receiver Julian Edelman, who has finished his four-game suspension.
Colts at Patriots Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , New England is an 11-point favorite (+105) with a total of 53. On the moneyline, the Patriots are -525 and Colts +415. On the alternate lines, the Pats are -10.5 (+100), -10 (-110) and -9.5 (-120). Indianapolis is 2-2 against the spread (2-0 on road) and 2-2 "over/under" (0-2 on road. New England is 2-2 ATS (2-0 at home) and 1-3 O/U (0-2 at home).
The Colts are 2-6 against the spread in their past eight vs. the AFC. The Patriots are 11-3 ATS in their past 14 following a win of at least 14 points. They are 8-2 ATS in their past 10 vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 6-0 in the Colts' past six on the road. It's 8-2 in Indy's previous 10 vs. the AFC. The under is 7-3 in New England's past 10 vs. the AFC. The over is 8-0 ATS in the past eight meetings. The Colts are 1-4 ATS in the past five.
Colts at Patriots Betting Prediction
New England has won seven straight, including playoffs, in this series. I'm sure Brady will be fired up to beat the team that embarrassed him with Deflategate. My first inclination was to take Indy at +10.5, but with Hilton likely out and perhaps Leonard too, I've reconsidered even if Gronk sits. Go New England at -9.5 and go under the total.
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