The Indianapolis Colts are pulling in the
early football betting action for their Divisional Round matchup with the New
England Patriots. Expect that to change later in the week.
record on his final NFL picks for 2013-14, up to January 6 inclusive:
ML (+0.71 units)
Are the Indianapolis Colts America’s new
favorite team? They’re getting pretty darned close. That thrilling 45-44 Wild
Card win over the Kansas City Chiefs (–1.5 at home) has everybody’s tongues
wagging – Andrew Luck’s fumble recovery/touchdown was one of those moments
that’s bound to be played over and over again on NFL Films. In slow motion,
with martial music in the background. Or maybe Miley Cyrus. This is The New
NFL, after all.
The Colts have a date this Saturday night
(8:15 p.m. ET, CBS) with the New England Patriots, who once upon a time were
America’s darlings, but have fallen to seventh on the public money charts, five
spots behind Indianapolis. The Patriots opened
as 7-point home favorites on the NFL odds board and remain there as we go to
press; our expanded beta consensus reports show the Colts pulling in 57 percent
of the bettors and 68 percent of the money.
It’s quite remarkable how the Colts (12-5
SU, 11-6 ATS) have managed to make it this far. They were No. 13 on the DVOA
charts at Football Outsiders at the end of the regular season, and after
beating the Chiefs, they slipped to No. 16 overall (No. 17 offense, No. 19
defense, No. 19 special teams). Don’t forget, Luck threw three interceptions to
go with his four passing TDs and that miracle fumble return. And the Chiefs
were literally millimeters away from putting themselves in field-goal position
in the dying minutes.
The Colts have been pulling this Houdini
act for a while now. Last year, as you’re probably tired of hearing, they went
11-5 SU and ATS despite registering just 6.2 Estimated Wins. How did they do
it? With the softest schedule in the league, and by completing 43 percent of
their third-down conversions (No. 7 overall) and 70 percent of their fourth
downs (No. 2). This year? Indianapolis had 9.5 Estimated Wins playing the No.
23-ranked schedule, converting 38 percent of the time on third down (No. 14)
and just 36 percent on fourth down (No. 24). Better team, less luck, same 11-5
A Spy (In the House of Pain)
The Patriots (12-4 SU, 8-8 ATS) probably
don’t feel very lucky, given the injuries and turmoil they’ve endured this
year. But New England has been a bit fortunate, too. The Pats check in at No. 2
on the updated efficiency charts (No. 2 offense, No. 24 defense, No. 4 special
teams) after playing the No. 18-ranked strength of schedule – thanks, AFC East
– and chalking up 11.0 Estimated Wins.
New England was only 37.6 percent on
third-down conversions (No. 16) and 46.7 percent on fourth downs (No. 18), so
we can’t put the Pats in the same luck-box as the 2012 Colts. Ah, but how about
those fumbles? New England recovered 60 percent of its fumbles this year,
second only behind the Dallas Cowboys (67.6 percent) and five spots ahead of
Indianapolis (55.8 percent). In theory, anything above 50 percent is luck.
That’s the way the prolate spheroid bounces.
You know what’s better than luck?
Information. The Colts have just signed WR Deion Branch, who played for the
Patriots from 2002-2005 and again from 2010 to last year. Branch is 34 years
old and hasn’t played at all this season, but his value to Indianapolis is more
as a source of information than receptions. I’m liking the Colts more and more
in this matchup – and the sharps agree. But I still expect the football betting
public to show up for Tom Brady later in the week. Time your NFL bets
Pick: Take the Colts +7.5 at BetOnline