Indianapolis Colts (6-3) at New England Patriots (6-3)
The Colts have been underrated all year. From being home dogs against Minnesota and Miami to being just -3 at home for Jacksonville (though they did lose) and -1 at home for Cleveland to being +3.5 against the Jets in New York (another loss) and +3 against the Titans in Tennessee to being -3 in Jacksonville and +7 at home for Green Bay. They are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games, including 5-1 since Chuck Pagano left the team for treatment. They’ve won 4 straight and their only loss since Pagano’s announcement was in New York against the Jets, when they were understandably flat right after their first emotional ChuckStrong victory.
They are once again underrated this week as 9 point dogs in New England. For reference, the Bills were -12 in New England last week and covered. That says Colts are just 3 points better than the Bills at most because the Patriots didn’t even cover last week. Huh? Using the yards per play differential method, the Patriots should just be 3 point favorites and even using the rate of sustaining drives differential method, the Patriots should just be 8 point favorites, even though the Patriots rank 2nd in that statistic.
The Colts shouldn’t be getting this many points against anyone, even though the Patriots do have Aqib Talib making his debut this week. The Colts also return Robert Mathis from injury this week. Mathis, their top pass rusher, has been pretty much out since week 4 (he played very sparingly week 9). They’ve been playing really well ever since they returned several starters defensively (Cory Redding, Dwight Freeney, Pat Angerer). Vontae Davis and Jerraud Powers are out, but their defense is still healthier than it’s been in recent weeks and Darius Butler’s strong performance at cornerback is helping cancel out the loss of Davis and Powers.
Besides, the Patriots tend to struggle when laying this many points at home. Since the start of the 2010 season, they are 5-11 ATS at home as favorites of more than a touchdown, which is pretty incredible considering they’ve been a covering machine in general in the past 2 ½ years. In all other situations, they are a whopping 21-8 ATS. They’ve already failed to cover in all 3 of these instances this season, barely beating the Jets and Bills and losing to the Cardinals, 3 teams that are all significantly worse than the Colts. This game reminds me a lot of when the Giants came to New England as 9 point dogs week 9 last year and won.
The Colts are also in a trio of good spots. First, they’re well rested coming off a Thursday Night Game. On Sunday, teams are 115-95 ATS off a Thursday Night game. Second, they’re dogs before being favorites. Teams are 95-50 ATS in this spot since 2011, including 20-11 ATS as dogs of a touchdown or more. Next week, they host the lowly Bills. Third, the Patriots play the Jets on Thanksgiving next Thursday. Favorites are just 23-36 ATS before a divisional Thursday Night game since 1989, 14-23 ATS before being divisional favorites (which the Patriots will be).
The Colts should be able to keep this one close and even if they don’t, there’s some backdoor potential with the Colts because of how bad the Patriots’ pass defense is, even with Talib. If the Colts are down 10-14 driving for a backdoor cover late this week, I’d rather have them than the Patriots, especially as bad as the Patriots’ pass defense is in the 4th quarter. I also don’t want to bet against this ChuckStrong momentum.
Sharps lean: NE 9 IND 5
Final update: No change.
Public lean: Indianapolis (50% range)
New England Patriots 31 Indianapolis Colts 27
Pick against spread: Indianapolis +9 (-110) 4 units