Indianapolis Colts @ New England Patriots: Back Brady and his boys to tame the Colts
Previously struggling New England built up some momentum with a handsome defeat of the Dolphins last week and Kieran O'Connor is backing them for another win in front of the Foxborough faithful
"Teams playing on Thursday after an overtime game are 6-25 ATS (19.4%) since 1989. The Colts are right up against it based on that alone."
Indianapolis Colts @ New England Patriots
Fri 5th October. 01.20
Live on Sky Sports Main Event & Action
Pats back to form with Brady excelling
Are the Pats back? For the second year in a row the New England Patriots found themselves at 2-2 after four games. Last year they went on to lose only one more game in the regular season on their way to the Super Bowl. Will the same happen again?
Certainly, the Pats looked more in tune on Sunday as they brushed aside the previously unbeaten Miami Dolphins 38-7. Noticeably, too, Tom Brady looked more like his old self after a poor week three. Against a supposedly strong Miami defence he completed 23 of 35 passes for 274 yards with three touchdowns. He also connected with seven different pass catchers, including Josh Gordon, who made his New England debut.
Julien Edelman returns to the New England offence and he is badly needed. New England's wide receivers have been very poor this year and have needed a real dig out from Rob Gronkowski and running back turned auxiliary receiver James White.
Colts hoping to bounce back from overtime defeat
Indianapolis, meanwhile, come into this one off a painful overtime defeat at home to Houston after coming back from an 18-point deficit in the third quarter and an eight-point deficit with less than a minute remaining in regulation. The big one from this was of course the decision taken in overtime by the Colts, failing to convert a fourth-down attempt with four yards to go from their own 43-yard-line in the final minute of overtime. From there Houston took the ball, ran a few plays and kicked the winning field goal.
Colts head coach Frank Reich has received a lot of criticism for the call but, to be honest, I think he was right to go for it. It was a brave, aggressive call that could easily have landed and if it did, he would have been hailed a hero. NFL, maybe more than any sport is risk and reward. Sometimes that backfires, you move on.
Reich correctly pointed out on Monday that the Colts lead the league in third-down percentage, they're better than 50% on the year at 32-for-62. He made the right call, it just didn't work.
Pats have enjoyed much the better recent history
When looking at this game it really is worth looking at the history of these two sides. A little over 10 years ago this was the biggest rivalry in the game. It was Brady v Manning, it was epic. In 2009 they played arguably one of the best games in NFL history when the Colts rallied to beat the Pats 35-34. That seems a long way ago now.
In the interim the Pats beat the Colts in the 2015 AFC game in a match famous for the "deflategate" debacle. Three years later, the Colts tried to hire Josh McDaniels, the Patriots' offensive Co-ordinator. He took the job for three weeks before backing out, sending the Colts scrambling for another coach.
It's not all doom and gloom for the Colts though. The return of Andrew Luck this season has so far gone to plan, he is starting to look like his old self again. His combinations with TY Hilton should make for a great tandem partnership. Hilton will miss this game though, only his third missed game in seven years in the NFL. Top RB Marlon Mack will suit up on Thursday and in Darius Leonard, they have a strong contender for defensive rookie of the year.
Comfortable night in store for New England
Last week we used a strong stat to land us a winning Thursday night bet. Once again a stat can help us along the way here, and here it is: teams playing on Thursday after an overtime game are 6-25 ATS (19.4%) since 1989. The Colts are right up against it based on that alone.
In truth the line reflects this, Brady and his boys, while not being all the way back, look a lot better now than they did against the Lions and with Edelman back in the fold they look certain to get the win on Thursday night. The handicap stands at 10.5 and as we saw on Sunday, the Pats don't stop when they are up by double digits scores. I fancy them to get it done by at least two touchdowns.
In the touchdown market, James White has three touchdowns in four games so he is worth a little bet at 6/1 to get the first one of the night in a comfortable enough victory for the Pats.