Tom Brady and the New England Patriots know how to hold a grudge. They stormed to a 16-0 regular season after Spygate and are now 4-0 following the Deflategate fiasco. Brady, who’s only supposed to be making his return from that infamous four-game suspension this week, is playing like an MVP candidate. He and his Pats will be in flawless form entering their matchup against the team that got the whole scandal started: the Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts have been winning despite missing star quarterback Andrew Luck for the past two weeks. With Luck still a question mark to return against the Pats, can the Colts finally end their five-year losing skid over the Pats?
Get a full breakdown of this AFC championship game rematch with our preview below. Also, don’t forget to check out our previews of Week 6’s other top games, like the Panthers vs. Seahawks and Giants vs. Eagles.[sc:Football ]
New England Patriots vs. Indianapolis Colts Preview
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis
When: Sunday, October 18, 8:30 PM ET
Line: New England Patriots (-10.5) at Indianapolis Colts (+10.5); total 55.0 – view all NFL lines
TV Broadcast: NBC
Betting on the New England Patriots (4-0)
Bill Belichick and the Patriots simply have had the Colts’ number in recent years – with or without the help of deflated balls.
[sc:NFL240banner ]New England has won its last six games against Indianapolis, and is a perfect 4-0 SU and ATS against them in the Andrew Luck era. The Pats have averaged 47 points in those last four games, with an average margin of victory of 29 points.
The Colts front seven needs no reminding what LeGarrette Blount and the other Patriots backs have done over the last few years. In their last three meetings, the Pats have rushed for 234, 246 and 177 yards with 13 total touchdowns against the Colts, with Blount racking up 314 rushing yards and seven TDs by himself in his last two games against Indianapolis.
Heck, even the immortal Jonas Gray had 201 rushing yards and four TDs against them the last time the Pats were in Indy.
This season, the Pats offense is once again firing on all cylinders. Tom Brady is completing 72 percent of his passes with 11 TDs and zero INTs, while the offense is averaging 37 points per game. Based on past and present performances, no one should put it beyond Brady and Belichick to continue their utter domination on a Colts defense that has still shown no improvement this season.
It’s not only on offense where Belichick has had his way with the Colts. He’s also made Andrew Luck’s life a living hell with a defense that has picked him off 10 times in their four meetings.
The Pats have been playing with a major chip on their shoulder after the Deflategate saga, and have been imperious form this season, going 4-0 SU and ATS as they tore through their competition. Expect to see them to raise that intensity even higher to get their revenge against the team that snitched on them in the first place.
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Betting on the Indianapolis Colts (3-2)
Despite three straight wins, two of which coming without Andrew Luck, the Indianapolis Colts are still not all the way back. As competent as Matt Hasselbeck has been in place of Luck, beating Blake Bortles’ Jaguars and Ryan Mallett/Brian Hoyer’s Texans by a combined 10 points is really nothing to write home about.
The Colts would obviously prefer starting Luck in place of a 40-year-old backup against the Pats. However, a recent report says Luck might have only a 50 to 60 percent shot to finally make his return from a shoulder injury against New England. And even if Luck does return (possibly at less than 100 percent), he’s only averaged just 18.3 points per game against the Pats in his career.
(Update: Colts owner Jim Irsay expects Luck to start on Sunday.)
Head coach Chuck Pagano will have to choose whether to risk Luck or stick with Hasselbeck until his star is fully healthy. Either way, neither option looks too good for the Colts and their chances of beating New England.
The re-emergence of veterans Frank Gore and Andre Johnson against the Texans should be able to help give whomever starts at QB the added weapons to at least make it a game against the Pats. Gore rushed for a season-high 98 yards with a TD, while Johnson had six catches for 77 yards and two TDs against his old team. Gore, in particular, gives the Colts a threat in the running game which it just hasn’t had in recent matchups against the Pats.
However, it remains to be seen whether this mediocre Colts defense (ranked No. 19 in defensive DVOA through four weeks) can contain an extra-motivated Patriots offense that has so far looked unstoppable and has historically done whatever it wants against Indy. And remember, this was a Colts defense that was torched for over 300 passing yards by Hoyer in less than one game on Thursday.
The Colts still have no answer for the Patriots (-10.5), who go on to win 37-14.[sc:NFL490Banner ]
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