Following an emphatic win last week that put them right back on the map, the (2-2) New England Patriots are looking to take down another familiar foe as they face the (1-3) Indianapolis Colts (8:20 PM ET Thursday).
The New England Patriots opened the new NFL season among the Super Bowl favorites with the legal USA sportsbooks. That is unsurprising given they have played in the championship game three of the last four years and have won it twice in that same span. The class of the league, the New England dynasty that reigned in the early 2000s has had some of its best years recently and 2018 looked to be no exception.
The season opened in classic Patriot fashion as New England defeated the Houston Texans thanks to strong performances from Tom Brady (277 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT) and his number one receiver, tight end Rob Gronkowski (7 receptions, 123 yards, 1 TD). The two helped propel the Patriots to a 27-20 victory.
In week two however, against a tougher opponent and one that came oh-so close to defeating New England for the AFC Championship last year, the Patriots suffered a loss. The Jacksonville Jaguars, who waited months for this chance at redemption, bested New England in every facet of the game. Jaguars’ QB Blake Bortles threw four touchdowns compared to just two for Brady, and unlike in week one, Gronkowski was nowhere to be found, finishing with just two receptions for 15 yards. The running game struggled to get going as well, combining for just 82 yards on 24 carries.
In week three, New England looked primed for victory against a struggling Detroit Lions team which just so happened to be coached by one of Bill Bellichick’s former assistants. Bellichick entered the game with a pretty solid record when coaching against guys from his coaching tree, not to mention when playing after a loss the prior week. Despite that, the tides turned in favor of Matt Patricia and the Lions as the Patriots were simply outplayed. The final score was 26-10, the team’s largest loss since week four of the 2016 NFL season. Brady had one of his worst games in years, throwing for just 133 yards with one touchdown and one interception. New England did better on the ground, rushing for 89 yards on 19 carries but that was no match for the 159 yards put up by the Lions’ running game.
This was still the Patriots and playing poorly in September is nothing new so no one was really panicking at the 1-2 start. Perhaps they would have if the team had lost to the then-undefeated Miami Dolphins, as it would have put New England in a significant hole in the division, but the Patriots didn’t lose. In fact, they reverted to the Patriots of old, putting an end to this talk of the Dolphins being the best team in the AFC East. While record-wise that may still be the case for now, last Sunday the 38-7 drubbing showed differently. Brady was back to doing Brady things, the running game finally exploded and the passing attack was nice and balanced.
So Close and Yet So Far
If you have ever heard the expression, “this team is better than their record suggests,” look no further than the Indianapolis Colts in 2018 for the perfect example.
Just 1-3, the Colts probably should be 3-1 if not for some late-game mistakes that have been extremely costly. Indianapolis opened the year at home against the Cincinnati Bengals and looked poised for victory after the first half. The Colts led 16-10 after two and 23-10 midway into the third quarter. In the final 20 minutes of the game, Indianapolis inexplicably fell apart. Andrew Luck, who threw for 319 yards and two touchdowns in the game, couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn late in the game. The team’s defense allowed Bengals’ QB Andy Dalton to orchestrate two 50+ yard touchdown drives to take their first lead since the teams traded field goals in the first quarter. The Bengals ended up winning 34-23.
After handedly defeating the Washington Redskins in week two, the Colts traveled to Philadelphia to face the defending Super Bowl champions who have been almost unbeatable at home these past few seasons. The Colts had their chances, leading 16-13 up until just over three minutes remained in the game. The Indianapolis defense, which has struggled to play well for four quarters, gave up a 17-play, 75-yard drive which resulted in a Philadelphia victory. Perhaps snatching defeat from the jaws of victory or at least a tie, the Colts, after coming back from a 21-10 halftime deficit against the Houston Texans, opted to take a chance on 4th & 4, with less than 25 seconds left in the game, as opposed to punting away the ball and settling for a tie. Luck’s pass was incomplete and with a short field, the Texans used one play, a 24-yard pass from Deshaun Watson, to get into field goal position to win the game.
It has been a season of heartbreaking losses for the Colts, but as I started off by saying, this team is better than their record. They just need to find a way to put together four quarters of the kind of football they’ve been playing sporadically. If they can string together a full 48 minutes of that, this team can still find a way to salvage their season.
Our Preview’s Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots Picks & Betting Predictions Verdict
So this preview turns to our Indianapolis Colts vs New England Patriots predictions and, for those who want to have a wager on this Thursday night NFL game, here are our two betting picks:
- The Patriots enter this game as 10.5-point favorites, which is somewhat of a lofty spread. However, the team is 8-2 ATS at Gillette Stadium, and 9-of-11 when it comes to covering double digit spreads at home. The team is 7-0 against the Colts when playing in New England, which is a streak that goes back to 2009. While the Patriots haven’t quite shown to be the Patriots of old safe for their last game, trends exist for a reason. With differing spreads (from -10pts to -11.5pts), our recommended option is to take New England -10pts @ best odds of -110 with 5Dimes Sportsbook.
- The total points to be scored is set at 51 to 51.5pts by the oddsmakers, which seems a little high at first sight. However, looking at what these two teams are capable of on offense, it’s not a stretch at all to see the total points hitting the over. Luck is the kind of QB who will throw and throw and throw some more, not afraid to make mistakes while doing so. Indianapolis also has little to no running game and as we have seen from the Patriots, their running game is suspect too. Look for this one to be a duel of two quarterbacks, with both slinging for high totals when all is said and done. Go high at 51pts @ best odds of -105 with Bookmaker.