NFL Betting: The Patriots Have The Clear Upper Hand; Can The Colts Take It Away?
After losing in last year’s AFC Championship Game, the New England Patriots know that they have some unfinished business to tend to this Sunday evening on their home field.
Indianapolis Colts @ New England Patriots – Sunday, January 18
Sports betting line: Patriots -7
Why Indianapolis Will Win
This is a game the Colts can realistically win. First of all, they’re playing great defense, having allowed an average of 11.5 points in their first two playoff games. Yes, skeptics will say that Andy Dalton is terrible and Peyton Manning was injured, but the Colts’ secondary still had to shut down Denver’s receivers. The Indianapolis defensive line still had to contain the Broncos’ running game and Cincinnati’s Jeremy Hill as well. The Colts are getting great defensive line play, and if they can get it in this game, they’ll be able to compete until the very end.
Why is this one part of the game so important? New England ran for over 200 yards in the regular season meeting between these teams, and the Patriots also went over 200 yards in last year’s divisional playoff game, which New England won by a score of 43-22. New England has scored over 40 points in each of its last three meetings against the Colts, but if Indianapolis gets that same high level of defensive line play it has received the past two weeks against Cincinnati and then Denver, everything about this game changes in ways that will strongly favor the Colts. This is how Indianapolis can really surprise a lot of people in Foxborough.
Why New England Will Win
When you look at this game, you can see why the Colts think they have a chance. They can dictate with their defense and outplay a New England offensive line which was bullied in the first half by the Baltimore Ravens this past Saturday in the divisional round. The Colts, the reasoning goes, can play physical interior football to clog up the Pats’ running game and make New England one-dimensional.
The problem with this analysis is twofold: First, the Patriots know how to run against the Colts. That knowledge of having done great work in the past is going to feed New England with a lot of confidence. Second, even if New England does have to throw on just about every play, as it did against Baltimore, the Patriots can make it work. Bill Belichick is the best coach in the NFL, and only Pete Carroll comes close right now. Belichick used untraditional formations to get Baltimore distracted and off balance. He is a master at using every tactic and adjustment in the playbook, and then using things that aren’t even in his playbook. He is the most resourceful coach around, and he is fearless in terms of taking risks. Denver is coached by John Fox, a very conventional guy who did not have answers for his team against the Colts on Sunday. Belichick will run rings around the Colts, giving Tom Brady a plan to win.
Who Will Win
The Patriots are comprehensively better than the Colts, and they proved it with a 42-20 win in Indianapolis during the regular season. It would be a shock if the Colts even keep this game close.
NFL Betting Pick: Patriots -7