NFL Free Pick
The Week 1 matchup between the Detroit Lions and the Indianapolis Colts will provide a look at two of the NFL’s most pass-prolific offenses. Matthew Stafford versus Andrew LUck. In theory it sounds good, but are there enough other storylines to keep this one interesting if it’s not a great Game?
The Colts are -4 point home favorites with a total of 51 at 5dimes Sportsbook.
Stafford enters 2016 coming off of maybe his best all-around year in the league. He completed his highest percentage of passes ever (67.2%). He threw for the second-most touchdowns in a single season in his career (32). And he threw the second-fewest interceptions over the course of an entire season in his career (13). There’s only one problem. All of this was ACComplished with Calvin Johnson at wide receiver.
That’s right, Johnson, to many people’s surprise, called it quits following the 2016 season, citing long-term health coNCerns of future years in the league. Johnson finished the season as the Lions’ No. 1 target, finishing with 88 receptions, 1,214 yards and 9 touchdowns. Johnson finished his 9-year NFL career (all in Detroit) with 731 receptions, 11,619 yards and 83 touchdowns. That’s difficult to replace, to say the least.
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Returning for Stafford at wide receiver is Golden Tate, who had 90 receptions for 813 and 6 touchdowns a year ago. He’s a nice piece, but he’s certainly no Calvin Johnson. Add to the mix Anquan Boldin. Boldin is a nice veteran piece, but let’s face it. He turns 36 years old in October. His production, while still good, has slipped a little over the past couple of seasons. Still the anticipation should be for Detroit to throw the ball a lot, but it’s asking an awful lot of Stafford to have the same type of season without MeGAtron.
The Indianapolis Colts enter 2016 just hoping to have LUck healthy for a full season. After three very promising years to start off his career, LUck faced a litany of injuries in 2015 that limited him to action in only 7 Games for Indianapolis. Should he stay healthy, that should be enough to keep the Colts in contention for the playoffs in what has been a hideous division. Remember, last year the Colts finished 8-8, just one Game behind the 9-7 Houston Texans, who won the AFC South.
To his benefit, LUck does have the luxury of having several weapons back. T.Y. Hilton and Donte MoNCrief were his two leading receivers last season. They are both back. They combined for 133 receptions, 1,857 yards and 11 touchdowns, while only playing a portion of the year with LUck. Also in the mix is Frank Gore. Entering his twelfth year in the league, it certainly feels like Gore is due for a drop off soon, but he still ran the ball 260 times last season for 967 yards and 6 touchdowns. If the Colts can get another productive year out of him, it would mean a lot to LUck to have something working outside of the passing Game.
Prediction: Matthew Stafford has proven to be erratic many times in his career. I doubt that propensity is going to be helped any by the fact that he no longer has Calvin Johnson to throw the ball to. The more experieNCed Andrew LUck gets I tend to believe he’ll get better and better. He has established threats around him. Neither defense projects to be that good this year. Colts 27, Lions 17.