New England Patriots (8-0) -6, o/u 56 at Indianapolis Colts (7-0), 4:15 pm Sunday, CBS
by Zman of Predictem.com
First place in the East vs. first place in the South. 8-0 vs. 7-0. Winners of three of the last six Super Bowls vs. the defending Super Bowl champs. Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning, Bill Belichick vs. Tony Dungy. And we could go on. For brevity’s sake, we won’t, but we football fans got what we wanted, which amounts to the most anticipated NFL regular-season game in 20 years when the New England Patriots visit the Indianapolis Colts Sunday afternoon in Hoosierville.
New England is off to probably the greatest start of any team in league history. Of their eight wins so far, the closest was a 34-17 decision over the Cleveland Browns a month ago. Their other seven wins have come by 24, 24, 31, 21, 21, 21 and, last week, over the Washington Redskins, by 45 points.
On the season, the Patriots are outscoring their opponents, on average, 41-16, outgaining them 440-268 and outushing them 136-87.
On the other side of this match-up, Indianapolis has had two relatively close calls this season, a two-point win at Tennessee and a six-point win at Houston. Other than that, the Colts other five victories have come by 31, 18, 19, 22 and 24 points. Over the last two weeks, Indy has won at Jacksonville and at Carolina by a combined 60-14.
Statistically speaking, the Colts are outscoring foes this year 32-15, outgaining them 399-273 and outrushing them 140-107.
Not only is New England a perfect 8-0 this season, they’re also 8-0 against the spread. That would include a 4-0 SU & ATS mark in road games.
Indianapolis is 5-2 vs. the number this year, 3-0 straight up and ATS at home.
Even thought these two teams are no longer divisional rivals, they’ve met on the field of battle seven times over the last four seasons, three times in the playoffs. The Patriots won the first four of those encounters, but the Colts have won the last three. Last year, Indy beat New England in Foxboro 27-20 in a regular-season match, then rallied to beat the Pats 38-34 in the AFC championship game in Indianapolis.
In that title game, the Patriots used a couple of early defensive TDs to take a 21-3 lead. But the Colts rallied for 32 second-half points, scoring the go-ahead touchdown with a minute remaining in the game. For the game, Indy outgained New England 455-319.
This year, Pats QB Brady is having perhaps the finest season of any passer in league history. So far, Brady is completing 75% (!) of his passes for a ridiculous 30/2 TD/INT ratio and a mind-boggling 136.2 passing rating. For some context, Colts QB Manning holds the NFL single-season record for passing rating at 121.1 in 2004.
Manning ain’t doing too bad himself this season, hitting 66% of his throws for a 13/3 TD/INT ratio and a 102.9 passing rating.
And New England and Indy both sport a +11 turnover ratio this year, which ranks as the best in the league.
On the injury front, Colts WR Marvin Harrison is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game with a bad knee.
The o/u is 7-1 in Patriots games this season, which are averaging 57 points per, while the totals are 3-4 in Indy games, which are averaging 47 points.
New England opened as four-point road chalk for this game, with a total of 57. But early action at many online sportsbooks has pushed the Pats to as much as six. Also, New England is listed at right around -250 on most moneylines, with the Colts getting +200 as home dogs.
The Predictem Pick: With Marvin Harrison likely sitting sidelines in this game and the Patriots playing like a team possessed, we’re going to lay the six and go with the Patriots.