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San Francisco 49ers vs. Inianapolis Colts Preview and Pick

San Francisco 49ers (3-3 SU, 4-1-1 ATS) vs. Indianapolis Colts (6-0 SU, 5-1 ATS), NFL Week 8, 1:00 p.m. EST, Sunday, November 1, 2009, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Ind., TV: FOX
by Badger of

Point Spread: 49ers +12/Colts -12
Over/Under: 43.5

With their solid 3-1 start to the season now long gone the San Francisco 49ers are making a change at quarterback, going with former No. 1 overall pick Alex Smith as the starter this week when they travel to Indianapolis to take on Peyton Manning and the undefeated Colts.

The 49ers fell behind Houston last week 21-0 before head coach Mike Singletary inserted Smith behind center, and Smith responded with three second-half touchdown throws to tight end Vernon Davis to get the 49ers back into the game. A late interception killed the rally and allowed the Texans to slip away with a 24-21 victory, but the seed was planted in Singletaryís head and the former Bears linebacker pulled the trigger and named Smith the starter this week against the Colts.

Unfortunately, heíll be going up against the juggernaut that is the undefeated Colts this week. Peyton Manning continued on his MVP-like pace with three more touchdown tosses in the Colts easy 42-6 victory over the Rams last Sunday, giving him 15 for the season to go along with his ridiculous 72.5 completion percentage through six games.

The point spread for this game opened with Indy as large 12-point favorites at home in Lucas Oil Stadium, and because the bookmakers and oddsmakers canít seem to convince anyone to bet against the Colts, the number has gone up to 12.5 or even 13 points at most offshore sportsbooks on the Web.

The over/under total opened at 45, but it too has seen a lot of line movement early in the week and it has dropped to 44 or 43.5 at a majority of the books.

Smith threw for 206 yards and hit a solid 68.2 percent of his passes last week while he was playing catch up against the Texans. But if the 49ers donít re-establish a running game soon he wonít have much of a chance going forward.

The 49ers only ran for 59 yards against the Texans, and that was with the return of Frank Gore to the lineup. The bad news is that theyíll have to do it with a makeshift offensive line, as starting right tackle Tony Pashos broke his shoulder blade last week and is done for the season. Pashos had taken over for Adam Snyder, who was moved to right guard, so the 49ers will have to play musical chairs with the line this week in order to find healthy bodies to play in front of Smith.

One bright spot for the 49ers on offense is that first-round pick Michael Crabtree is finally getting into the mix. The rookie out of Texas Tech had five catches for 56 yards in his debut last weekend.

On the other sideline the Colts offense is ranked 4th overall (402.5 ypg), but they do boast the leagues top-ranked passing attack (310.8 ypg) and the 2nd-ranked scoring offense (29.8 ppg).

Defensively the numbers are equally as lopsided, as the Colts currently rank 9th in defense (291.7 ypg) and 2nd in points allowed (12.8 ppg), while the 49ers defense is 13th overall (324.8 ypg) and 15th in scoring (20.3 ppg).

The big matchup to watch in this game will be the 49ers 20th-ranked pass defense (236 ypg) against the pinpoint accuracy of Manning and his boys Dallas Clark, Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon.

You have to go back to the 2005 season to find a game between these two teams in the regular season, a game the Colts won 28-3 out on the West Coast in San Francisco. Prior to that it has been all 49ers, as they won four of five games through the late 80s and early 90s. The one win for the Colts during that time span was in the old RCA Dome, a narrow 18-17 victory in 1995.

Both teams sport 3-3 ATS records in the series, including a Colts cover of a huge 16.5-point spread back in 2005 the last time they met. The over has gone 4-2 in the series.

There are some interesting betting trends to watch though. The 49ers are a strong 4-0-1 ATS in the last five games as a road underdog. The Colts are just 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games as a home favorite too.

Badgerís Pick: The Colts have been impressive and the point spread in their games is going to keep climbing until they lay a dud some week. Iím not sure this week will be that dud, but I canít will myself to wager on the big spreads and the big public favorites. So Iím taking the over of 43.5 and hoping Peyton and his boys cover it on their own. Take the over of 43.5.

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