NFL Picks: Patriots vs. Colts Week 11 Opening Odds

Jason Lake

Tuesday, November 11, 2014 6:03 PM UTC

Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014 6:03 PM UTC

We could be looking at an AFC Championship Game preview when the Indianapolis Colts host the New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football. The NFL odds say it’s a virtual toss-up with the Colts laying 2.5 points.

Jason’s record after Week 9: 26-36 ATS, 10-14-1 Totals

Profit: minus-34.81 units
Who are the elite teams in the AFC? You’re probably thinking about the Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots, who met in last year’s conference title game and are well on their way to a rematch. But the Indianapolis Colts just might be ready to eat at the big boys’ table. They’re on top of the AFC South at 6-3 SU and 7-2 ATS, and this Sunday night (8:30 p.m. ET, NBC), the NFL Odds have the Colts favored by 2.5 points at home against New England. The market has spoken.

Check our week 11 early predictions & NFL public betting trend report 

Then again, as Ric Flair would tell you, to be the man, you’ve got to beat the man. And the Colts have yet to beat the Patriots in the Chuck Pagano-Andrew Luck Era. New England is 2-0 SU and ATS, winning both games at home by wide margins – and blowing out the posted totals along the way. This week’s total has skyrocketed to 57.5 points as we go to press. Are we in for another aerial assault at The Luke?

Most Lucky Player
One of the things that’s made it hard to properly gauge Indy’s value is how cottony-soft the AFC South has been since Luck came to town. The Colts have played some very easy schedules, giving Luck the opportunity to develop as a quarterback and not necessarily be punished by his mistakes. Same goes for a defensive unit that was second to last in efficiency during Luck’s rookie campaign in 2012.

The South is still bad enough that it might have trouble competing with the SEC, but don’t let that fool you: Going into their Week 10 bye, the Colts had played the No. 5-ranked strength of schedule in the NFL. From here on in, even with the Patriots still on the docket, Indianapolis has the easiest schedule of anyone in the league. But before that? Quality opposition.

Which really underscores how much Luck and the Colts have improved. In 2012, Luck (76.5 passer rating) played at about replacement level as a rookie, which is nothing to sneeze at. Then he posted an 87.0 rating as a sophomore, moving up into “game manager” status. Did he deserve to make the Pro Bowl either year? Probably not. This season, on the other hand, Luck (100.3 passer rating) is a bona fide MVP candidate, second only to Peyton Manning in passing DYAR.

For Full Props comparison, click HERE
Patriots scores first +115 (best line: 5Dimes)
Colts scores first -125 (best line: Heritage)
Offers 5Dimes | Heritage | BOL | Bovada | SIA

That’s Strong
The Colts defense has also gotten progressively stronger over the last three years. They moved up the DVOA charts from No. 31 to No. 16 last year and No. 15 (No. 17 pass, No. 20 rush) this year – all against increasingly better opposition, don’t forget. That defense will be even stronger this Sunday when strong safety LaRon Landry makes his return from a four-game suspension for PED use.

Also, don’t look now, but RB Trent Richardson has become a useful player for the Colts. He’s still a minus-20 in rushing DYAR; however, Richardson is plus-64 DYAR catching balls in the flat, making him a valuable complement to RB Ahmad Bradshaw (plus-55 rushing DYAR). The extra week off should also help Richardson further recover from the hamstring issue that limited his performance in late October.

It might take all this and more to beat the Patriots (7-2 SU, 5-4 ATS) on Sunday. Our consensus reports show about 60 percent of bettors adding Tom Brady and the Pats to their early NFL Picks. But there’s almost no difference between the two teams in overall efficiency this year; New England is No. 7 thus far, Indianapolis is No. 8. We might even be inclined to go with the Colts when we revisit this matchup later in the week. Stay tuned.

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