Indianapolis Colts @ New England Patriots
Yum, yum. If there’s anything guaranteed to make my walnut cake and tea taste better it’s a matchup like this. Peyton on Tom and I’m taking the good ol’ boy over the hair do.
In Formula 1, you get the feeling that if you put any of the top guys in the best car, they would win the Drivers’ Championship. Well, this season Peyton turned up in the garage and found a Reliant Robin. Injuries have robbed him of key players, Wayne has lost some form and Garcon is catching like he’s visually impaired – but still 18 can get it done. He may get something of a break here as the Pats haven’t a terrifying pass rush and there are a couple of ropey corners deep in a New England secondary that lacks experience, but be warned – New England gave Pittsburgh fits last week with some creative blitzes and looks. All that said, no-one picks up a blitz like Manning and he will tear apart a defense that isn’t well organised. Collie looks as though he’s back and maybe that’ll allow Wayne to find some space.
Brady was misfiring a little this season – until last week. He handed Pittsburgh a prison pounding (30/43/350/3 TDs) and unless Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis turn up today, Indy may find themselves in difficulty. However, even if Brady gets comfortable in the pocket, Indy aren’t terrible against the pass and the received wisdom - run the ball all day to keep Manning off the field - isn’t really open to the Patriots who, like the Colts, have limited options on the ground and in any case, it’s not their instinct.
This will be intriguing to see; Bill Belichick scheming, Manning trying to out-think him at the line of scrimmage, Freeny and Mathis trying to get after Brady, who in turn will be looking downfield to guys like Branch and Welker. This should be close, so I wouldn’t recommend investing heavily ATS.
Pick: Colts +4.5 (2pt)
Pick: 1st TD Collie 12/1 (0.5pt)
Pick: Anytime TD Welker 7/5 (1pt)