Indianapolis Colts (0-6 SU, 2-4 ATS) vs. New Orleans Saints (4-2 SU, 3-3 ATS), 8:20 p.m. EST, Week 7 NFL, Sunday, October 23, 2011, Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, La., TV: NBC
by Badger, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Ind +14/NO -14
Sunday Night Football in America has been kicking Monday Night Football in the television ratings this season thanks in part to a schedule of quality matchups on the field, but this week the folks at NBC might have a dud on their hands when the winless Indianapolis Colts travel to the Superdome to play the New Orleans Saints.
It certainly wont be the rematch of Super Bowl 44 that the NBC suits were hoping for back when the television schedule was devised.
The Colts continued their misery with a, 27-17, loss at Cincinnati last weekend, dropping to 0-6 on a season that cant end fast enough as far as proud Colt fans are concerned. Three more turnovers and barely 200 yards of total offense and a lack of pressure or turnovers on defense against a rookie quarterback just isnt going to win football games in the NFL, and it didnt work against the Bengals on Sunday.
New Orleans is coming off a highly deflating loss of its own last week, dropping a 26-20 decision to the NFC South rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the road last Sunday. Drew Brees has a chance to win it in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, but he threw an interception in the Tampa end zone and the Bucs held on to beat the Saint and force to two-way tie for first in the NFC South.
The timing of the Colts game couldnt have been more perfect for New Orleans, as they will get the injury-riddled team at home in the Superdome in what looks like a lopsided game in favor of Da Saints.
Oddsmakers are expecting a highly lopsided game as well, opening the point spread with New Orleans as two touchdown favorites at minus -14-points. But even two touchdowns is not enough points to spot the Colts for some of the betting public, because there are even a few offshore sportsbooks (5Dimes.com) that have gone up to as high as minus -15.5 points to try and find any takers for Indianapolis in this game.
The over/under total opened at 47.5 and has also gone up to 48 or 48.5 at most sports books.
But if bettors are layng money on the over in this game, its not because of the Colts offense right now.
What was once a fearsome unit that drove defensive coordinators to many sleepless nights is now a shell of itself, ranked 31st in the league at just 284.7 yards a game. Curtis Painter is not the maestro that Peyton Manning was with the audibles at the line of scrimmage, which is half of the Colts gameday offense usually.
The Colts never really ran the ball all that well on offense with Manning, so with Painter unable to loosen up the box via the pass the Indy offense really doesnt stand much of a chance.
The struggles on offense for Indianapolis have translated to problems on defense too, as too many downs and injuries starting to mount are taking away their effectiveness as well. Ranked 27th overall in yards allowed (392.5 ypg), 30th against the run (136.7 ypg) and 29th in points allowed (27.2 ppg) will not win you many games in the NFL either, and all of those stats together are a tough pill to swallow for a franchise that is used to winning.
Brees and the Saints will take their shots against the Colts defense, and with the 2nd ranked offense overall (452.2 ypg) and the 6th best unit at 29.5 points per game it looks like this game could get ugly in a hurry.
About the only chance the Colts have against Brees and the Saints high-flying offense is the fact that head coach and offensive play-caller Sean Peyton will be forced to make his calls from the press box. Peyton had his knee rolled up on along the sideline in last weeks game and wound up with torn ligaments and a broken knee cap, problems he had surgery to fix on Monday but injuries that will likely relegate him to press box duty on Sunday night.
Besides Super Bowl 44, these two teams last met in 2007 in a 41-10 slaughter by the Manning and the Colts at home in the old RCA Dome. It was a Thursday night regular season opener that Brees played horrible in (28-of-41, 192 yards, 2 INT), but really any comparisons from the past to this weeks game are comparing apples to oranges.
If you want to look at betting trends for this game you will find a few in favor of Indy (15-7-2 ATS on the road in last 24; 10-2 ATS as underdog of 10.5 points or greater), and a few in favor of the Saints (5-1 ATS as home favorite in last six; 15-5 ATS in last 20 games following a SU loss).
The favorite is also 4-1 ATS in the last five head-to-head meetings between these two teams.
The over wager is probably the best play of the game on Sunday, since the over is 13-3 in the Colts last 16 road games and its also 11-4 in the Saints last 15 home games against a team with a losing record.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: By rule I rarely bet on any team in the NFL when they are favored by double-digits, especially 14 points. But I dont care how many points you give me, I cant honestly take the Colts right now in any capacity. Im looking at something like a 30-7 or a 35-10 romp by the Saints in this game, so Im going to play it safe and take the under in this game. Im taking the under of 48.5.
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