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Thursday, January 15, 2015

NFL Predictions 2015 AFC Championship: Colts Vs Patriots

Indianapolis Colts Vs. New England Patriots: NE -6.5 (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

Like the Packers/Seahawks game, this line opened at -7, but instead of going up, it moved down. It's a pretty big shift to go off a key number, especially in a game as high profile as this. It could go even lower, but I'm happy with anything under -7. So far, 63% of the bets are favoring the home team.

Bottom Line

Where do we start with the Colts?  How much credit do we give them for going into Denver and coming away with a fairly one-sided win?  And if they are as good as they looked, how does that factor into their matchup versus the Patriots?

Last week I took Baltimore +7 for two main reasons - one, they were a pretty well-balanced team on both sides of the ball for most of the year, and two - they matched up fairly well against the Patriots.

When I look at the X's and O's, I can't make the same case for the Colts, regardless of what happened in Denver. More times than not, Indy have shit the bed against the better teams this year because they have too many flaws. Offensively, they can pass the ball fine if Luck is on his game and he gets protection, but there were problems on 3rd down and red zone scoring most of the season. The run game has been better since Richardson has been parked on the bench, but is that saying much? It's hard to be any worse.

The Patriots defense isn't anything like the Seahawks, but they are improved from what we saw last season, and they should be able to force Luck into a few mistakes. If Revis limits Hilton, the rest of the secondary would be freed up to blanket the rest of the receivers, and come up in the box to handle the underneath stuff.

What will the New England offense do? That's anyone's guess, especially given what happened last time these two met.  Last week, the Pats completely abandoned the run, and had no problem putting up points. Either way, I expect Gronk to be a big part of the offense per usual, and per usual that matchup will cause problems for the D. It will also allow Brady and company to take advantage of other mismatches. Beyond Davis, there is nothing really special about this Indy D, and New England will find ways to exploit it.

I think a decent case could be made for the Colts at +7, since Luck is never really out of a game if he's playing well, and there is always the possibility of a backdoor cover. That said, I think Denver mostly beat themselves by putting in an uncharacteristic stinker. The Patriots will be a better challenge, and should be able to win this one by a touchdown or more if they simply execute the game plan and play to their strengths.

NFL Pick: NE -6.5.

Read more: Conference picks.
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