Injury to Starting Center makes Patriots Cover Unlikely

Jason Lake

Friday, January 16, 2015 7:43 PM GMT

Friday, Jan. 16, 2015 7:43 PM GMT

The New England Patriots have beaten up the Indianapolis Colts pretty badly in all three games during the Chuck Pagano-Andrew Luck Era. Will Sunday’s game see the Patriots overcome the NFL odds?

Jason’s 2014-15 postseason record: 3-1 ATS, 2-1-1 Totals

It doesn’t look good for the Indianapolis Colts. They’ve got a difficult matchup Sunday night against the New England Patriots, who have absolutely crushed the Colts in all three of their meetings since Chuck Pagano and Andrew Luck appeared on the scene in 2012. The Patriots are 6.5-point favorites on Sunday’s NFL odds board; our expanded consensus reports show overwhelming support for New England in the betting market.

How much whelming are we talking about? Try 90 percent of the action in terms of raw dollars, coming from nearly 56 percent of the bettors in the marketplace. In terms of average bet size, the Patriots are getting $837 a pop, easily the most of the four teams playing in Sunday’s Conference Round. The Colts are getting the least at $119. Should be an easy NFL pick this week, right? And yet…

The Zeroes are Singing for You
In case it hasn’t been imprinted directly onto your brain by now, the Patriots are 0-8 ATS in their last eight Conference Round or Super Bowl appearances. At this stage of the playoffs, there are literally millions of casual bettors in the marketplace – and more so with each passing year. They’ve reliably overbet New England since the dawn of time; i.e., before YouTube. Here’s the full meal deal:

2014 Conference: Patriots 16, Broncos 26 (DEN –5)
2013 Conference: Ravens 28, Patriots 13 (BAL +8)
2012 Super Bowl: Giants 21, Patriots 17 (NYG +3)
2012 Conference: Ravens 20, Patriots 23 (BAL +7)
2008 Super Bowl: Giants 17, Patriots 14 (NYG +12.5)
2008 Conference: Chargers 12, Patriots 21 (SD +14)
2007 Conference: Patriots 34, Colts 38 (IND –3.5)
2005 Super Bowl: Patriots 24, Eagles 21 (PHI +7)

New England has been a tremendously good football team throughout the past decade, and this being football, some of the above results can be chalked up to dumb luck. But it is what it is. In order to justify betting on the Patriots (for non-entertainment purposes) at this stage of the season, you have to be convinced that they have a major advantage over their opposition, an advantage so big that it compensates for the way the marketplace distorts the football odds.

Sorry About Your Damn Luck
This might be that fateful day. Let’s counter that sad 0-8 ATS streak with New England’s dominance over the Colts during the Pagano-Luck Era:

Nov. 16, 2014: Patriots 42, Colts 20 (NE +3)
Jan. 11, 2014: Colts 22, Patriots 43 (NE –7.5)
Nov. 16, 2012: Colts 24, Patriots 59 (NE –10)

Holy doodle. These games haven’t been competitive at all. The Patriots have run roughshod over Indianapolis the past three seasons – almost literally. Add it up, and New England ran for a combined 595 yards, compared to 207 yards for the Colts. During last year’s Divisional Round, it was LeGarrette Blount (166 yards, four TDs). This year in Week 11, it was Jonas Gray (201 yards, four TDs). Who will it be this Sunday? It hardly seems to matter.

That’s testament to the problems Rob Gronkowski causes the Colts. As Grantland’s Bill Barnwell has illustrated, Gronkowski isn’t just an elite offensive tight end – he’s also a premium blocker, giving New England’s rushing attack an added boost. The Patriots have also been using an extra offensive lineman quite a lot these days.

Unfortunately for the Pats, it looks like starting center Bryan Stork (knee) will miss Sunday’s game, which could really foul things up, based on how New England’s offensive line played in September before Stork’s arrival. We’d be willing to overlook that 0-8 ATS streak if Stork were healthy. Now, we’re not so sure. Perhaps a small bet on the underdogs will suffice; try to get the Colts at +7 or better, assuming the public continues to open up for the Patriots over the weekend.

Free NFL Pick: Take the Colts and the UNDER at 5Dimes

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