The NFL’s best rivalry will take center-stage on Sunday afternoon when the Indianapolis Colts (6-3, 2-3 road, 5-3-1 ATS) travel to Foxboro to meet the New England Patriots (7-2, 4-0 home, 5-3-1 ATS). 

Kickoff is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. ET. The game will be televised nationally by CBS. The Patriots opened as three-point favorites (-120) and the number has held fairly steady in early NFL betting and sportsbooks have the total holding firm at 50 ½ points.

Indianapolis is coming off an uninspiring 23-17 win against the Cincinnati Bengals as seven-point chalk. Cincinnati scored late in the fourth quarter for the backdoor cover. Peyton Manning was held without a touchdown pass and only threw for 185 yards in the win.

New England picked up a road win against Pittsburgh on NBC Sunday Night Football by a score of 39-26. The Patriots were 5 ½-point underdogs heading into the game. Tom Brady threw for 350 yards and three scores in the effort. Heading into a matchup with Manning, it is important to note that the New England defense allowed Ben Roethlisberger to pass for 387 yards and three touchdowns.

Recent series trends favor the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. The underdog is 4-0 ATS in the last four regular season matchups between the clubs. The Colts are 3-2 ATS against the Patriots since the beginning of the 2006 season.

The ‘under’ is 3-2 since 2006. It should be remembered, however, that the teams scored a combined 69 points in their last meeting on November 15, 2010 (Belichick’s infamous fourth-down game).

The Sagarin Ratings indicate that the Patriots are a solid play. New England is ranked 2nd with a power rating of 27.43, while Indianapolis is ranked 8th with a power ranking of 23.93. Those numbers actually justify a 6 ½-point spread. New England is 3-1 SU vs. Sagarin top-10 teams while Indy is 0-1. Sagarin’s Predictor ratings call for a closer game, giving the Patriots a four-point advantage at home.

Manning and the ColtsThere are some major statistical concerns for New England heading into the second half of the season. The Patriots are ranked in the bottom half of the league in both yards gained and yards allowed. Indianapolis has passed for the 3rd most yards in the league (2600), while the Patriots rank 30th in passing yards allowed (2500).

Looking at the game from a numbers standpoint, I am not sure how New England has achieved a 7-2 SU record. They tend to find a way to win, which is a sign of great coaching. I think, however, that the Indianapolis Colts are a poor matchup for the Patriots this season. Peyton Manning will want to atone for his subpar game against the Bengals, and will feast on the terrible New England secondary. I don’t think either team will run the ball effectively. The Colts will make a few more plays on offense, allowing them to win the game SU in Foxboro.

I also like the Colts from a psychological viewpoint. The Patriots just had an emotional game against the Steelers on national television. They could run out of gas during this contest. Bettors remember New England’s win and Indianapolis’ poor performance (82% of bets are currently on the Patriots). I like Peyton Manning in this spot.

It is a bit early to make a definitive call on the total due to uncertain weather conditions in Foxboro. If, however, conditions are favorable, the ‘over’ seems to be a solid play. Both clubs are going to pass the ball much more than they run, and neither defense is spectacular.

I’ll call for the Colts to pick up a SU upset by a score of 34-27. Take Indy plus the points and the ‘over’ for one-unit apiece.

Thanks to yahoo.com, espn.com, nfl.com, and sbrodds.com for all records, trends, and statistics.