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The Patriots host the Colts in what will be the 2nd game of the Divisional playoffs double header on Saturday. The game kicks off in Prime Time at 8:15 pm est. and can be seen on CBS-TV. The Patriots are currently -7 point favorites at betonline with a total of 53.
There's an interesting trend this week as far as the betting trends at sportsbook.com. In every Divisional playoff game this weekend, the bettors at sportsbook.com are favoring the underdogs in every single game. In this game, 62% of the wagers taken on this game have come in on the Colts with 78% of the action on the over.
Hats off to the Colts for a thrilling come from behind win on Wild Card weekend, trailing 38-10 and coming all the way back with Andrew Luck leading the way. But while we have to give them credit for that comeback, we also have to raise concern with falling that far behind, in a home playoff game in the first place. That's not the type of performance that champions are made of and they certainly can't expect to go into New England thinking they'll be able to repeat that performance, should they fall behind early. Plenty had to happen for that comeback to play out, including a Chiefs team whose players were dropping like flies.
Once again, we have to talk about the home field advantage. The Patriots were 8-0 at home this year outscoring opponents by an average of 30-20. Now, the 8-0 mark the Bengals had at home going into their game, meant very little last week when all was said and done. But this is Tom Brady, not Andy Dalton. This is also Bill Belichick, not Marvin Lewis. One duo has a proven track record of success, the other doesn't. The Pats 8-0 mark at home carries some weight here.
But a case can be made for the Colts here. A good case actually. If you look at the Patriots results this year, you'll find 3 blowout wins, 23-3 over the Bucs, 55-31 over the Steelers and 41-7 over the Ravens. Not one of those 3 made the playoffs. Aside from those 3 blowout wins, the Patriots won two other games by more than a TD. That was a 27-17 win over the Dolphins and then the season finale, a 34-20 win over the Bills. Once again, neither of those teams made the playoffs this year. Every other game on their schedule was either a loss, or a win by a TD or less.
The yards per point numbers here using the entire season, are very close. In fact, offensively, they are identical, with both teams at 13.8. Defensively, the Pats have a slight edge with a ypp number of 17.7 compared to the Colts 16.4. Using just home numbers for the Pats and away numbers for the Colts, the Colts numbers are 14 and 16.5 while the Pats are 12.9 and 18.7. In both cases, if we take the yards per point differential and use those numbers to make a line, the line would be less than a TD. Using the full season stats, the Pats would be favored by about 4.5 points and using home and away numbers, the Pats would be -3.5 point favs.
Taking those ypp numbers a step further, using only stats from each teams last 6 games, the Colts are 13 and 18 and the Pats are 13 and 17.4. In this case, the Pats would be favored by about -2.5 points, using the last 6 games only, after accounting for home field.
When you look at yards gained on the ground and through the air, and the yards given up on the ground and through the air, these two teams are almost mirror images of each other. Right down to the turnover margin differential with the Colts at +10 and the Pats at +9.
Our model also suggests the Colts are the right side. The model uses data from the full season, the last 4 and the last 7 games. The predictions are Pats 27-25, the Colts 28-22 and the Pats 32-27.
This is not a Patriots team that has blown thru their schedule this year. In fact, we already mentioned their lack of double digit wins, but how about their performance against other playoff teams? They lost to Cinci 13-6, beat the Saints 30-27, lost to the Panthers 24-20 and beat the Broncos 34-31. Two losses and two 3 point wins. Also note that the Patriots are just 3-3 in their last 6 home playoff games and 2-6 against the spread in those games.
I think that of the playoff teams mentioned above, the Broncos most resemble the Colts. A big time QB with an offense that can put points on the board and a mediocre defense. The games against the Broncos and Saints were both at home and the Pats couldn't keep Brees or Manning out of the End Zone and don't figure to be able to keep Luck out either. The Colts don't figure to stop Brady and the Pats either, so from where I sit, what you have here is a game that plays out very much like the Broncos and Saints games making the +7.5 very attractive here.
I'd be somewhat concerned with the Colts 1st half performance last week but I'd also expect them to put extra emphasis on that NOT happening again this week. The Colts have proven this year that they can beat quality opponents having beaten the 49ers, Seahawks, Broncos and Chiefs so no reason to think the Colts can't compete here and go toe to toe with the Pats. All of the numbers suggest the margin between these two is likely less than a TD so we'll go ahead and back the Colts here in what could be a very good game. Colts +7
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