Nov 232012
 

Buffalo Bills (4-6) at Indianapolis Colts (6-4)

I’ve called Indianapolis a perpetually underrated team all year. Starting week 2, they were home dogs for Minnesota, 3 point home favorites for Jacksonville, touchdown home dogs for the Packers, 3.5 point road dogs against the Jets, 1 point home favorites for Cleveland, 3.5 point road dogs against the Titans, home dogs for Miami, 3.5 road favorites for Jacksonville, and then as a 6-3 team they were 9 point dogs in New England last week.

They’ve had some games in there where they didn’t cover, but given how well they’ve played, those lines look pretty ridiculous and not just in hindsight. The only time in there I didn’t bet on them was as 3.5 point road favorites in Jacksonville (what seemed like a reasonable line) and they have covered 6 out of 9 lines, including 4 straight (all wins) before running into red hot New England last week.

This week, they continue to be underrated as they are just 3 point home favorites for the Bills, which suggests that these two teams are equal (3 points for home field advantage). I just don’t think that’s true. Yes, they were blown out last week, but before that they were a hot young team and the blowout loss could be a good sign for them this year. Teams are 37-19 ATS since 2002 off a loss of 35 or more as dogs. Those teams tend to be angry, overlooked, and undervalued.

There really hasn’t been much of a line movement despite that huge loss, for some reason, as it’s gone from -4 to -3 (though 3 is a very, very key number), but they’re still undervalued. The fact remains that they were undervalued a week ago as well. It’s ridiculous that this line was -4 a week ago. As you can imagine, we are getting some line value with the Colts. The rate of sustaining drives differential method gives us a real line of Indianapolis -8 and the yards per play differential method gives us a real line of Indianapolis -2.5. When you average those out, you get a line significantly higher than this -3.

That being said, it’s not going to be a big play on Indianapolis because they’re actually in a really bad spot, blowout loss last week aside. Since 2008, teams are 58-81 ATS as favorites after a loss as dogs before being dogs, the so called sandwich game trend. The Colts obviously lost as dogs last week and now they’re favorites before going to Detroit, where they will be dogs, next week. For what it’s worth, teams coming off a blowout loss of 35 or more are 1-2 ATS in that time period, 10-15 ATS off a loss by 21 or more.

Meanwhile, the Bills are dogs before being favorites as they host the Jaguars next week. Teams are 96-53 ATS as dogs before being favorites in the last 2 years. When you combine that trend and the sandwich game trend, you get that teams are 111-56 ATS as dogs before being favorites when their opponent will next be dogs since 2008, including 34-13 ATS when all 3 games (the current game, your next game, and your opponent’s next game) all are non-divisional. The Bills are also rested off a Thursday game. Teams are 116-96 ATS on a Sunday coming off a Thursday game.

This game simply means different things to these two teams. For the Bills, this is a potential statement game with no distractions on the horizon. For the Colts, this is a chance to get an “easy” win to get things right before facing a tough opponent again next week. The fact that the Colts are coming off a blowout loss might make it less likely they overlook these Bills (not to mention all the ChuckStrong stuff) and they are definitely undervalued by this line, but it’s only a play small on the Colts, especially with the public all over them. The odds makers have had a rough 3 week stretch and seem due for a big week.

Public lean: Indianapolis (70% range)

Sharps lean: BUF 8 IND 7

Final update: No change.

Indianapolis Colts 27 Buffalo Bills 20

Pick against spread: Indianapolis -3 (-110) 2 units

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