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NFL week 11 pick: Colts at Patriots

Indianapolis at New England (-3.5)

The Colts and Patriots square off for the eighth year in a row – easily longest streak of non-divisional competition in the NFL. (Before 2002, they faced each other twice each year as divisional foes).   As usual, this annual matchup of AFC heavyweights has big post-season implications. Remember, the winner of the season series has gained homefield advantage over the other in each of the past nine seasons that both have made the playoffs. The winner of the regular-season series has also gone on to win the AFC title six times in nine years.   Those are some heavy-duty implications.  

The main difference between the teams right now is Indy’s ability to play halfway decent pass defense (15th in Defensive Passer Rating; 8th in Passer Rating Differential).   The Patriots continue to slog along near the bottom of the Defensive Passer Rating table (27th) and they’re merely mediocre (16th) in Passer Rating Differential (+2.35) despite the fact that Tom Brady’s have another excellent, highly efficient season (17 TD, 4 INT and fourth in the NFL with a 98.8 passer rating).   New England’s pass defense is a huge liability in this game. The only hope? Peyton Manning is in the midst of a rare streak of mediocrity: a dismal 5.6 average per attempt and 75.5 passer rating over the past three weeks.  

New England’s No. 3-ranked Offensive Hogs versus Indy’s No. 22-ranked Defensive Hogs should be a concern for Colts fans. Indy is dead last in run defensive, allowing opposing runners an average of 5.0 YPA.   But elsewhere this game pretty even. Brady has not lost a regular season game at Gillette Stadium since 2006 and is one win away from tying BrettFavre’s NFL record for consecutive home (regular season) wins.   We’ve been fairly dead on predicting Indy’s consistent string of wins over the Patriots in recent years. And a snap back to form by Manning could quickly make this game a runaway in favor of the Colts.   But Manning’s recent struggles, New England’s ability to control the tempo on Sunday, and the long string of home success by the Patriots leads us to believe that they’ll eke out a win against a team whose only road wins have come against the struggling Broncos and Redskins.  

New England 27, Indianapolis 26   bet now

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