Indianapolis Colts (1-3) at New England Patriots (2-2)
A week after floundering in Detroit, the Patriots returned home and dominated a previously unbeaten Miami team in a 38-7 win, extending their incredible 287 game streak of not losing 3 straight games. The return of defensive end Trey Flowers and safety Patrick Chung after they had missed the previous game and a half with injury made all the difference on defense. Both went down around the same time week 2 against Jacksonville and that’s coincidentally right when the Patriots’ defense fell apart, after a solid opener against the Texans.
This week, they get a key piece back on offense, with wide receiver Julian Edelman returning from a 4-game suspension, giving Brady a familiar target and giving this offense a much needed threat at wide receiver. Edelman missed all of last season with a torn ACL and hasn’t played since Super Bowl LI, so it’s fair to expect some rust from him, but his return, combined with Josh Gordon’s continued integration into this offense, makes this suddenly a respectable receiving corps. The Patriots could be without Rob Gronkowski this week on a short week, which would obviously hurt them, but there’s optimism he can play after he got a limited practice in on Wednesday.
The Colts, on the other hand, are really banged up. While left tackle Anthony Castonzo could make his season debut after missing 4 games with a hamstring injury, the Colts are missing 3 other tackles with injury and will have to kick 2nd round rookie guard Braden Smith outside to right tackle. They will also be without top receiver TY Hilton, starting tight end Jack Doyle, and starting cornerback Kenny Moore, while linebacker Darius Leonard and center Ryan Kelly are both considered gametime decisions. Andrew Luck has played well for them this season, despite not having his full arm strength back, but the rest of this roster is pretty mediocre and they’re in rough injury shape on a short week.
The Colts are also in a terrible spot on a short week in New England. Excluding games between familiar divisional opponents and games where the road team is favored, home teams are 32-15 ATS on Thursday Night Football. Playing on a short week is tough enough, but when you have to travel as well and play a superior and relatively unfamiliar opponent, it puts you at a disadvantage. The Colts are also coming off of an overtime loss to the Texans and teams are just 6-25 ATS all-time on Thursday Night Football after an overtime game, including 2-18 ATS on the road. The Colts will likely be exhausted and unable to keep it close this week. We aren’t getting a ton of line value with the Patriots as 10 point favorites, but they’re a much superior team and they’re in a great spot, so they are worth a bet this week.
New England Patriots 34 Indianapolis Colts 20
Pick against the spread: New England -10