Saturday football is officially back this week, and it’ll be the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts renewing their rivalry in primetime on Saturday night. While this was once a great rivalry, Indy has lost eight straight against the Pats. Nevertheless, the Colts are listed as 2.5-point home favorites, with the over/under set at 45.5 points.
Despite their lack of recent success against New England, the Colts have to feel good about where they are right now. They’ve turned a 1-4 start to the season into a 7-6 record with four weeks left. Indy is currently one of five 7-6 teams that are tied for the final two Wild Card spots, so the race is tight, and the Colts need to keep winning.
As for the Pats, they also started slowly in 2021 but have turned things around with seven straight wins. New England now has a two-game lead in the AFC East and began Week 15 in a three-way tie for the best record in the AFC. The Patriots look good for a playoff spot but would prefer to keep winning and push for the top seed in the playoffs.
The Mac Attack
It’d be foolish to think that Mac Jones is the biggest reason for New England’s success this year, but he’s surely played his part. He’s completed over 70% of his passes on the season and has been even better than that over the last month. Of course, the running game has done a good job of keeping the pressure off Jones, although Damien Harris and two starters on the offensive line are questionable to play on Saturday.
The good news for the Patriots is their defense has also carried its weight and kept the pressure off Jones. New England’s defense is allowing just 15.4 points per game, which is the lowest in the NFL. In fact, they’ve allowed 13 points or less in all but one game during their seven-game winning streak, a stretch that includes four wins over teams with a winning record.
Hitching a Ride
During their second-half resurgence, the Colts have hitched their ride to running back Jonathan Taylor, who has become a serious MVP candidate. Taylor is leading the league in rushing by a wide margin and is averaging close to 140 yards per game in his last five games. Needless to say, that has made things easier for Carson Wentz, who has been steady and avoided serious mistakes with just five interceptions all year.
Of course, the Indy defense has been a little less consistent this year. While they are fresh off a shut-out win over the Texans, the Colts have also allowed at least 30 points in three of their last six games. However, the Colts have racked up 29 takeaways in 13 games this season, so they can change games on that side of the ball.
One Thing to Watch
When Taylor runs for over 100 yards, the Colts are undefeated this season. With New England giving up 114.5 rushing yards per game this season, he has a chance to do that again and keep the Colts in this game. Bet on Indy to win and cover the spread at home, ending New England’s winning streak.
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