INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (6-3)
at NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (6-3)
Kickoff: Sunday, 4:25 p.m. EDT
Line: New England -9, Total: 54
Two teams riding long winning streaks clash in Foxboro, MA on Sunday when the Colts and Patriots meet for the 13th time in 10 seasons on Sunday.
The old rivals meet again, this time with Andrew Luck under center for Indy. The Colts have won four in a row, SU and ATS, including a couple of road games (Tennessee and Jacksonville). Along with strong play from Luck, the rebuilding defense has played well too, allowing 14.0 PPG during the winning streak. Of course, those games were against some weak offenses. The Patriots are still lighting up the scoreboard, with 37.0 PPG during their three-game win streak. Their problem is, like last year, an underwhelming defense. The Pats have won nine of 10 SU at home, but are just 4-6 ATS during that span.
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Luck has actually scored more rushing touchdowns (four) than passing touchdowns (three) during the four-game win streak, but he'll likely drop back 40+ times against New England's woeful pass defense (285 passing YPG allowed, 4th-most in NFL). Luck will mostly target the NFL'd second-leading receiver in Reggie Wayne (931 rec. yds), who has faced New England 13 times in his career, gaining 697 yards (87 per game) and 4 TD over the past eight meetings. The Colts won't completely abandon the run though, especially if RB Donald Brown (knee) is ready to start on Sunday. The Patriots allowed 162 rushing yards to Buffalo last week, but have been one of the better run-stop units in the league at 97 rushing YPG allowed (8th in NFL). If Brown can't handle the entire workload, RB Vick Ballard has improved greatly throughout his rookie year, totaling 331 yards and 4.1 YPC during the four-game win streak. One thing the entire Colts team will need to be wary of is New England's ability to take the football away. The Pats have forced multiple turnovers in six straight games, totaling 18 turnovers during this stretch.
Patriots QB Tom Brady is heating up with 8 TD passes and 0 INT over his past three games. He has usually played well in this series too, winning nine of his 13 career meetings (including postseason) with Indianapolis, while throwing for 240 YPG, 24 TD and just 12 picks. The possible return of TE Aaron Hernandez (ankle) gives the Patriots a great chance to drop 31+ points on the Colts for the fourth straight year. Although Wes Welker (810 rec. yds, 2 TD) has been limited by an ankle injury, he expects to play as well, joining WR Brandon Lloyd (480 rec. yds) and TE Rob Gronkowski (611 rec. yds, 8 TD) in what is arguably the league's most potent receiving corps. But New England has put greater emphasis on running the football this season, averaging 164 rushing YPG in the past six contests. RB Stevan Ridley has 581 rushing yards (4.8 YPC) and 5 TD during this six-game span, and he will be used heavily against Indy's 22nd-ranked rushing defense (120 YPG) on Sunday. The Patriots were able to win the turnover battle in each of the past two wins over Indy, and they have just four giveaways over the past five games.