Indianapolis Colts vs. Atlanta Falcons Preview and Pick

Indianapolis Colts (8-2) -11.5, 41 O/U at Atlanta Falcons (3-7) +11.5, Georgia Dome, Atlanta, 8.15pm EST Thursday
by The Crazy Snake of

I give up making predictions about Indianapolis. Mr Automatic missed his 4th consecutive field goal in the Colt’s last second field goal victory over the Chiefs. At least Vinatieri managed to hit the winner, but I have to confess to wincing at the snap, such has been the form of the great man lately. Speaking of the form of great men, what on Earth is Peyton Manning seeing of late? If not for Joseph Addai’s terrific effort late in the game, the Colts could easily have lost a game in which they went in overwhelming favorites. Peyton won’t be happy until he sees Dallas Clarke, Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne on the same field at the same time, something that won’t happen here.

And while we are on the subject of wonderment, could somebody please tell me why Bobby Petrino was so adamant in his declaration that Byron Leftwich would be the starter against Tampa Bay? Surely, Atlanta has to revert to Joey Harrington here. Call it lesson learned and make the right move. If Leftwich starts here it will be the head coach trying to prove he was right all along. Park the ego and give JH the nod. Leftwich was no good at Jacksonville and he is just an older and slower no good at the Falcons.

I suspect the Colts will just want to get a win by any means and get the hell out of town to get 10 days worth of rest and recovery. If they are smart they will run Addai 25 – 30 times against a suspect Atlanta rushing defense. If they get well in front they can start to air it some, but early they should just be prepared to play solid, no frills football. If Peyton decides to throw a bunch in his current slump he could add to his recent 3 TD to 8 interception count in the wrong direction and hand the Falcons an unlikely victory.

With all that said, the Colts’ defense is still extremely solid, even without Dwight Freeney and is good enough to shut out the Falcons. However, on the assumption that the Falcons will start Harrington they are significantly more potent through the air and this will assist Warrick Dunn’s ability to add yards on the ground. Regardless, the Falcons just don’t seem to have enough going for them to win this if the Colts rely on their defense to get it done and just take what the Falcon’s defense gives them. At this point in time, and with 10 days R & R beckoning for them to get Harrison back and iron out some bugs, the Colts would be crazy not to play a clock controlling, no frills attack here. They will have it all over the Falcons if they play that way and I would be surprised if they didn’t.

What does all that mean in terms of a potential margin? The online bookmakers opened this up at -11.5 and it’s still around that mark, although remarkably for mine that line has firmed with a few and is even -12 at some places. Seems plenty of handicappers are keen on the Colts to make a mess of the ailing Falcons. It’s pretty hard to make a case for the contrary, but then so much will depend on the Colt’s gameplan, the balance of turnovers and the propensity for Indianapolis to run the football.

The Snake’s Bite: I don’t think we can take either side at the spread here. It is fraught with danger. I do like the prospect of a low total, however, since the Colts’ D is excellent and their attack is likely to rest on a significant amount of “grind it out” rushing. With the Colts going under the total often of late, and with a glitch in the matrix still to be resolved, this looms as a low scoring yawner. The Colts and Falcons mustered a whopping 20 points between them last week and I see more of the same on the horizon. Take the under 41 and hope to see plenty of clock munching drives.