The New England Patriots are riding a seven-game winning streak into NFL Week 15 – the longest active run in the league. They’re riding high in the AFC East and sit lotus atop the AFC. If the season ended today, the Patriots would be the No. 1 seed. Go figure!
And yet, New England is installed as the 2½-point underdogs on the NFL odds board for its hot date with the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday night. Forget the Colts for the moment.
Where they stack up in the field and the broad spectrum of the NFL is neither here nor there. Just consider if this market feels right as it is. Never mind, there’s the old NFL adage: Bet against Bill Belichick at your own peril. (if it’s not an old adage, consider it created!)
If the answer is no, it doesn’t feel right. Then you’re in luck because, by that very same token, the Patriots are a steal bet. Let’s face it, it’s not often one gets spotted 2½ points in betting online markets with a top-tier outfit that is coached by the future Hall of Famer Belichick while riding a seven-game winning streak.
New England Patriots vs Indianapolis Colts
Patriots Way Rules
No one predicted Belichick would return to the summit of the AFC one year after losing Tom Brady to the greener pastures of Tampa Bay. After the debacle that was 2020, the future looked ominously bleak for New England.
In the main, questions were raised about the Belichick-Brady marriage that brought so much success to both coach and quarterback as well the team. For years, it was believed Belichick was the master puppeteer and Brady the system quarterback.
But those notions were challenged when Brady led the Buccaneers to Super Bowl glory in his first year with his new team and against the backdrop of a global pandemic, no less.
How could Belichick have allowed Brady to go? What was New England thinking when it dismantled one of the most successful dynasties in the game? Was Brady and not Belichick the reason behind all that enviable success? Those and other questions were the sources of much debate last season.
When Belichick drafted rookie Mac Jones with the No. 15 overall pick, it’s safe to say no one was impressed. Yes, on a superficial appearance level, he had the look of Brady about him. But that’s as far as the comparison went initially.
A few games into the season and a 2-4 record in the first six games, dismissive NFL predictions were trotted out with undisguised, self-righteous glee. Until Mac Jones and the Patriots flipped the script.
This might be my favorite Cowherd clip that I've ever posted, and that's saying something. Here is Colin on Mac Jones… before and after.— Funhouse (@BackAftaThis) December 7, 2021
Amazing. 😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/TTcCrkEzSt
Granted, the Patriots are coming off a most bizarre 14-10 win over the Buffalo Bills in which Jones was allowed to throw the ball only three times in adverse weather conditions. The sheer audaciousness of the game plan alone is something to marvel at.
It’s the epitome of winning ugly. A team that can get away with that can do anything. It speaks to the brilliance of Belichick’s coaching and understanding the conditions, the limitations and the abilities of all those involved.
Are Colts Too One-Dimensional?
Ever since the Colts landed on the discovery that running back Jonathan Taylor is something special, it seems that they’ve settled into a one-dimensional offense. It’s no accident that the Colts have the best rushing attack in the NFL. Thanks to Taylor, who is pound-for-pound the best running back in the league right now.
Ironically, Colts linebacker Bobby Okereke said the objective will be to turn the Patriots into a one-dimensional offense by forcing the ball into Jones’ hands. To see what the rookie is made of.
Mac Jones completed all 11 of his play action pass attempts for 169 yards in the #Patriots 36-13 victory over the Titans.— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) November 28, 2021
Jones' 11 play action attempts without an incompletion are the most without an incompletion since Week 8, 2020 (Russell Wilson, 13).#TENvsNE | #ForeverNE pic.twitter.com/u76KH5VpWn
To begin with, releasing the game plan to the opponent is probably ill-advised. The worst thing is to give Belichick a heads up, surely.
That said, Belichick is the master at taking away a team’s strength and putting them in uncomfortable situations. No coach makes opponents more one-dimensional than Belichick does. In Indy’s case, this would mean putting the ball in Carson Wentz’s hands and seeing what he can do.
Lock Down the Patriots
This is a pivotal AFC matchup that both teams will be looking to win. The Patriots and Colts are coming off a bye week and while that puts them on a level playing field, it can affect teams differently.
Belichick is the consummate professional and taskmaster, so if there’s a team that is likely to be better prepared right after a bye, the money has to be on the Patriots.
All told, everything about this matchap tips the balance toward the Patriots. They have the better record, the better form and the better team and coach. That sportsbooks tip this game with the Colts at nearly a field goal is surprising. As such, they have to be a no-brainer for NFL picks against the spread. The Patriots at +2½ is a steal bet.