The New England Patriots (7-2) are coming off of an authoritative road win at Pittsburgh last Sunday night while the Indianapolis Colts (6-3) were rather fortunate to escape with a six-point home win over a Cincinnati team that committed five turnovers.
The NFL latest line for this contest is New England –4 and a total of 50.5.
The Indianapolis Colts did not commit any turnovers of their own last week, so with a +5 turnover differential, you would expect much better than a 23-17 win. In fact, Carson Palmer had considerably more passing yards (292) for the Bengals than Peyton Manning did (185) for Indianapolis.
That said; the Colts did have a 20-10 halftime lead that they pushed out to 23-10 until the final 2:30 of the game, so Palmer accumulated a lot of his yards against some soft coverages. As for Manning, with the Colts’ injury list a mile long, he had no reliable receivers outside of Reggie Wayne, as the rest of the young and green receiving corps had loads of drops.
There could finally be some good news for Manning this week though, as Austin Collie has made considerable progress since suffering an ugly concussion two weeks ago, and if he does indeed play, it would also result in more open looks for Wayne, as Collie is good enough to merit respect from opposing secondaries, unlike Wayne’s unreliable supporting cast last week.
A healthy Collie would greatly help the Colts’ chances, as the biggest weakness on the New England team is pass defense. The Patriots rank 30th out of 32 NFL defenses against the pass, surrendering 277.4 passing yards per game, ahead of only the dreadful Houston and Washington secondaries. The Pats are also 27th in defensive yards per pass attempt at 7.3, which is not what you want vs. Manning.
The New England Patriots will not be fazed though, as they have now won 13 consecutive regular season home games, including winning all four this season. They are not annihilating people at home as in past years however, as their average winning margin at Foxboro has been just +8.8 points, and the Colts represent the biggest challenge they have had there to date.
The offense has been fine, averaging 31.8 points and 394.2 yards per game, and the attack has surprisingly not been one dimensional when playing at home, as they are actually averaging 141.8 rushing yards per game on an excellent 5.0 yards per carry in this stadium.
If that holds true again, the Pats can take advantage of the weakness of the Colts team, which is run defense, and that will only make Tom Brady more dangerous; as if he needs any help. Brady was fantastic vs. a normally great Pittsburgh defense in hostile territory, completing 30 of 43 passes for 350 yards and three touchdowns with no picks.
This game shapes up as a true heavyweight battle, with Tom Brady going 115-38 straight up and 90-60, 60.0 percent ATS as an NFL starter, and Peyton Manning going 13-3 ATS including 1-0 this season as an underdog since 2003 if we exclude games from Weeks 16-17, when he has usually sees just a few snaps.