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Week 5: Colts at Patriots, Thursday Night Football

From a really smug, Bostonian point of view, the absolute thrashing that New England laid on Miami last week was comical. In came the 3-0 Dolphins, acting like they really belonged in this year’s conversation for potential East division champs, and Bill Belichick just slapped Adam Gase like a dead fish. This week it’s Frank Reich’s turn to take on one of the greats and bookmakers have corrected their line to the tune of double-digits.

 

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (1-3) at NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (2-2)

Line: Patriots -10.5 and O/U 50.5

This line opened at -10 and 53 and the total has been sinking ever since. At the center of the free fall is a Colts’ injury report longer than Andrew Luck’s good arm. WR TY Hilton is out with a hamstring, TE Jack Doyle has a hip and C Ryan Kelly is dealing with a hand injury. That’s the short version, and it brings the issue of these short weeks into question. Critics of Thursday Night Football ask, “Well if the road team is this banged up, why bother making the trip at all?”

 

If that question sounds familiar it’s because we heard the same violin playing from Mike Zimmer’s locker room just a week ago when his Vikings were tired and crabby, just before a big trip to face the Rams. Minnesota’s injuries were different but they still had issues along the O-Line and were going up against Aaron Donald and Wade Phillips. All they did was score 31 points on 25 first downs and 446 total yards of offense.

 

The ‘sky is falling’ approach doesn’t work for a 1-3 team like Indy, especially when you’re going to play the Patriots. Guess what, if you can’t get psyched for this team then you wouldn’t have made it past half the Conference Championships in the past 20 years either.

 

Guys are going to have to step up and Luck’s performance against Houston should serve as a good motivator. Luck was 40 for 62 in the OT loss, throwing for 462 yards in his first four-TD game since 2016. In seven previous road starts that followed a three-plus TD game, Luck is 6-1 O/U and he scored an average of 29 points per game (PPG). These games flew over by 11 PPG and one of them was on this very field. In fact, Luck has played “Over” four of five times against New England. All but that one time…

 

Oh wait, are we not supposed to mention that?

 

This is the Deflategate Rematch, Part II. In the first installment, New England lit the Colts up for 34 points at Lucas Oil Stadium. That 34 points is the fewest Tom Brady has ever scored in five games against Luck and the Pats are 5-0 SU. If you think Brady’s ‘over it’ from being suspended four games, you don’t know Tom Brady very well. Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that Pats O-Co Josh McDaniels teased Colts’ ownership with the concept of coaching there in 2018, only to withdraw and stay with New England. He felt he had a better chance of winning here. There is more than one vendetta that needs to be settled on this field tonight and I’m calling for fireworks.

 

SO WHO’S GOING TO SCORE?

There is no question that the loss of Hilton hurts Indy’s offensive punch. Luck’s next two leading targets are Eric Ebron (30) and Nyheim Hines (26), and each of those two are beasts in the red zone with five TDs. WR Ryan Grant has had good chemistry with Luck, connecting on 18 of 22 passes including one score, and next up is Chester Rogers, who made eight catches against the Texans for 85 yards. Luck will need his wideouts to stretch the field and open up room underneath for Hines to get moving.

 

Indi’s offense ranks first overall converting third downs at 51.6% and among other things, New England’s D has struggled getting teams off the field (23rd). They are also 26th against the rush and 29th in QB sack percentage. There is never a fear of Brady being able to move the chains and score, but don’t think for a second that Indy is only showing up to make an appearance.

 

PRIMETIME PREDICTION

Non-divisional games with a sky-high total have been sailing over at rate of 63% the past 10 seasons and with big home chalk, the record is 9-2-1 O/U. When our road team is off an over, the record is 20-9-2 O/U. There is 9-1 O/U trend in effect for road dogs off a big passing game and totals went over the average mark of 53 by 9.5 points on average. And finally is the trend that Reich doesn’t want to hear after his decision to go for it on Sunday. It’s for Thursday teams with higher totals off OT, and while it’s harsh in terms of winning (2-9 SU and 0-11 ATS), the totals are 8-2-1 O/U.

Week 5 TNF Pick: Take the Colts and Patriots Over 50.5 points

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