Buffalo Bills (4-6 SU, 5-5 ATS) vs. Indianapolis Colts (6-4 SU, 6-4 ATS)
NFL Week 12
Date/Time: Sunday, November 25th, 2012, 1:00 p.m. EST
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Ind.
TV: CBS/DirecTV 709
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Buf +3/Ind -3
Over/Under Total: 51.5
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It’s not the old-school days of O.J. Simpson and Johnny Unitas, but two NFL franchises trying to reboot their glory years will clash again on Sunday when the Buffalo Bills travel to Lucas Oil Stadium to take on the Indianapolis Colts in an early afternoon AFC clash on CBS.
Buffalo crept a game closer to .500 last Thursday when they snapped a three-game losing streak and held on for a, 19-14, victory over the rival Miami Dolphins. The Bills defense forced three Dolphin turnovers, the special teams unit ran a punt back for a score the very first time it touched the ball and the offense held a 10-minute plus time of possession advantage in what can only be described as the best all-around game the Bills have played all season.
With a couple of extra days to prepare, now the Bills hope to get one more game closer to even and keep their momentum rolling when they travel into the Lucas Oil “Dome” on Sunday to take on rookie sensation Andrew Luck and the Colts.
One week after setting a rookie record for passing yards in a big win over Jacksonville, Luck looked more like the rookie he really is last Sunday in a deflating, 59-24, loss to Tom Brady and the Patriots. Luck tossed three interceptions and had two of them returned for scores and the Patriots piled up over 800 yards in the game (377 return yards) against an overmatched Colts defense and special teams.
Oddsmakers are expecting a fairly even game between these two, setting the opening point spread with the Colts as the “standard” 3-point favorite at home. Despite some overwhelming early money on the Colts so far (over 70 percent is on Indy), the betting line has yet to move at all.
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The over/under total opened at 52.5 and within the first 24 hours most sportsbooks have dropped it down to 51.5. There are plenty of offshore sportsbooks sitting at 51, and a few that are still sitting at 52, so you can move the total a full point if you shop around for the line you want.
Luck has done an incredible job leading the Colts to the brink of the AFC playoffs, especially since he’s done it without much help from the running game (110 ypg – 14th). But he’ll be facing a Buffalo defense that has had problems stopping teams on the ground (allowing 153 ypg – 31st), so a heavy dose of fellow rookie Vic Ballard and Donald Brown might be in the cards this week.
Buffalo is also one of the best teams in the league in running the ball, as the combo of C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson have propelled the Bills to 141 yards a game (7th). The problem for the Bills is that they’ve found themselves behind so much, so early in games that they’ve been forced to throw too much and Ryan Fitzpatrick has struggled in obvious passing situations (17 TD to 10 INT; only 62.5%). Jackson is still battling concussion symptoms, so Spiller might be called on again to carry the load against a Colts defense that is more active and faster at home on the carpet inside Lucas Oil Stadium.
The last time these two met at the end of the 2009 season the Colts were 14-1 and took Peyton Manning out after three series to save him for the playoffs, so it’s no surprise the Bills went on to pound the Colts, 30-7. Otherwise the Colts have enjoyed a run of six straight victories over the Bills, including four straight at home in Indy going back to the 1999 season.
Most of the betting trends for this once-every-three-years series are skewed since the Colts have had Manning over the years and the Colts have almost always been the favorite (the favorite is 4-1-1 ATS in L6 head-to-head). But Indianapolis has defended their home turf really well this season (6-1 ATS in L7 at home), and the Bills have a tendency to play one week really well only to stink up the joint the following week (2-8-1 ATS in L11 following an ATS win).
Picking an over or under wager could be a tough task this week, especially since the Colts are a strong under team (9-1 in L10 at home; 9-2 in L11 vs. AFC), while Buffalo is a strong over team (10-1 in L11 on fieldturf; 10-4-1 in L15 road games).
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I would lean toward the road dog Bills on this game, but I think the best wager might turn out to be the under. Buffalo seems to have turned the corner with their run defense (held a good running Dolphins team to only 60 yards), and the Indy defense always seems to be a few steps faster at home on the turf. I’m taking the under of 51.5.
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