New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts (-3, 57.5 o/u)
Tonight, the New England Patriots (7-2, 2-2 away) take on the Indianapolis Colts (6-3, 3-1 home) in a game between two AFC division leaders. The Colts and the Pats have taken similar paths to the top for their respective divisions. Both struggled early in the year and then started to dominate.
With neither team looking like it will be seriously challenged for a division crown, this could easily be an AFC playoff preview.
Last year, the Colts’ season ended with a 43-22 loss in Foxborough. Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck admitted he’s still sore about the game. “You think about it. Especially when you come back from the offseason and you’re watching cutups of games, what went wrong. You do see the cutups and think, ‘OK, what could we have done differently?'” said Luck.
Luck, who threw for 350 yards and four touchdowns in Indy’s last game (a 40-24 win over the Giants, which hit the over as predicted), is on pace to eclipse Peyton Manning’s record of 5,477 passing yards in a season.
Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton said what everybody else knows, “This team is going as far as Andrew goes.”
The same applies to the Patriots and QB Tom Brady. The three-time Super Bowl champ knows this visit to Indianapolis will be similar to his famous battles against Manning.
“When you play another great offense, you’re going to have to put up a lot of points, similar to our last game,” said Brady. “We realize we have a big job, too. You’re right, my focus is on the other side of the ball, but you also know you’re not going to be able to score 13 points and win the game.”
Brady should like what he sees when he looks at the Indianapolis defense. The unit is allowing more than 260 pass yards per game and, so far this season, has given up more than 30 pass plays of at least 20 yards.
Giving up big plays is part-and-parcel of Indy’s uber aggressive defensive style. Noted New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, “They blitz quite a bit more than most of the teams that we’ve played, which is going to be, I would say, a very critical factor in the game, our ability to handle that.” If New England can pick up the blitz, big plays will be open down field, as usual.
When the public sees Brady and Luck, they think over. That’s why the smart money will be on the under (57.5).
(Photo credit: Mark Susina (Mark 2400) (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mss2400/7967230578/) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)
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