The Colts rallied last week to keep them at the top of the playoff hunt while the Cardinals reeled off their third straight victory, how does this matchup affect your NFL picks?
Indianapolis Colts (7-3 SU, 5-4-1 ATS)
Andrew Luck rallied the troops last week as the Colts snatched victory from the jaws of defeat by whittling a 14 point deficit and turning it into a three-point win over the Titans, getting a push as three-point road favorites in NFL odds. It was the third victory in four tries for the Colts who additionally get the benefit of a 10-day rest headed into their meeting in the desert with the Cardinals.
Though the Colts tendered a first-round pick to the Browns in return for running back Trent Richardson, he has not been the ground and pound guy they hoped for when they acquired his services. Since landing in Indianapolis, Richardson has rushed for 272 yards and two TD's over the course of six games, averaging but 2.8 yards per carry.
Indeed it was the unheralded Donald Brown who paced the Colts rushing attack last week with 80 yards and two rushing touchdowns against the Titans. Furthermore, it is Donald Brown who has an eye-popping 5.9 yards per carry average and appears to be ready to get a full workload despite the hefty price the team paid for the enigmatic Richardson.
Arizona Cardinals (6-4 SU, 6-4 ATS)
The Cardinals could very easily have overlooked last week's game against the toothless Jaguars and instead focused on this week's showdown with young gun Andrew Luck and the Colts. However, the Redbirds were locked on enough to not only win the game but cover the number in NFL odds as 10-point road chalk in their 27-14 victory.
Veteran QB Carson Palmer has had a huge impact on the Cardinals' fortunes recently. Earlier this season his prolific arm paled in comparison to his propensity to err. In his first seven games he tossed 8 TD's but also 13 picks. Over the last three games he has cut down on his mistakes as evidenced by his six TD's versus only two interceptions.
If you are following the Cards this season you have no doubt been impressed by a stunning defensive unit that has stuffed opponents' rushing attack, allowing an average of just 81.4 yards per game (ranked 2nd) and total yards of only 324.9 (ranked 9th). Over the past three games that defense has gotten even stingier as they have paralyzed the rushing attacks to the tune of 45 yards per game and total yards has plummeted to only 267.
I will be the first to admit that I have faded, at my peril, the Cardinals this season but am rethinking my perspective on this team. While Carson Palmer doesn't thrill me at quarterback he is still a savvy veteran who can make the big plays at the right time as long as he limits those head scratching mistakes which he has managed to do recently.
The thing you have to keep in mind is that the Colts offensive line is not very good while the Cardinals defensive pass rush is quite good. Luck will be begging for a target but he won't find many options as third-year corner Patrick Peterson is a human blanket and should extinguish any threat T.Y. Hilton will pose as the main threat since the absence of number one receiver Reggie Wayne.
Call me crazy and call me kooky but this looks like a terrific spot for the Cardinals who should be able to neutralize Andrew Luck with a ferocious pass rush and a more than capable secondary.
In your NFL picks play Arizona -2 at WilliamHill.com.