Thursday Night Football: Colts, Patriots defenses can't stop anybody, so take the over

Here we go again: Another Thursday Night Football game, another stay away for NFL bettors. If you insist on playing this probably weak entry in America’s least favorite primetime football show, NFLbets’ll take a swing at picking this one, namely…

Indianapolis Colts +11 at New England Patriots, over/under 50 points

Adding to the inherent difficulties of betting Thursday night football games in general is the reputation of The Belichick/Brady Dark Empire. Every September, NFL fandom and talking heads alike open week 1 trumpeting the greatness of the New England Patriots while boldly asserted that they’ll be playing in, if not winning, the AFC Championship Game and/or playing in, if not winning, the next Super Bowl.

An unimpressive performance leading to a shocking result (think the 2017 opener against the Kansas City Chiefs) or even two hastily empties the bandwagon, only for it to be refilled after a SU New England win against one of the AFC’s many also-rans. Suddenly, all the white noise buzzes that Brady and Belichick can do this forever because they are GOATs and confirmation bias is everywhere.

So here’s what NFLbets says: Take the over on an O/U of 50. Again, this recommendation is made with the caveat that NFLbets advises against betting any TNF game at all.

But this wager will be fun.

Make this bet, and you’ll be cheering for the forces of good (and snowboarding). After consecutive games throwing for under 200 yards passing, Andrew Luck broke 400 in last week’s overtime game against the Tennessee Titans. Betting on the over would necessitate the Colts putting together about three TDs per the point spread (at Colts +11, the sportsbooks forecast a final score of Patriots 31-20). They’ll have to do most of that through the air, however, because it ain’t coming from the running game: Indy’s two lead RBs – and the pairing has been different every game in 2018 thus far – has averaged a *combined* 67.75 yards per game and one TD total.

While the Patriots statistically bring a better defense than is popularly perceived – they’re currently ranked 16th in overall DVOA and 18th against the pass, per Football Outsiders – but numbers don’t describe how good the dinking-dunking Blake Bortles and the mad-bombing Matthew Stafford looked against them. And purely by eye test does NFLbets draw the conclusion that this edition of the Patriots D isn’t played with the proverbial sense of urgency. Wrapping up the ball carrier in the middle of the field, so often previously a strength of Belichick’s Patriots, is fundamentally lacking in 2018.

Right, so Luck and the Colts can score. Can the Patriots?

Yes, that is a serious question.

Julian Edelman returns to the lineup after a four-game suspension and certainly scads of fantasy football players will be slotting him into lineups. Edelman is familiar with the Patriots system and playbook in a way that Josh Gordon is not, and so the longtime Patriot’s targets will likely be higher than were Gordon’s in week 4. The possibility of an Edelman/Gordon teaming is certainly cheering up Pats fans who have woken up to the reality that Rob Gronkowski no longer requires double-teaming.

The rushing game for the Patriots has been decent enough as well, with the team’s three lead backs (Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead) good for 98.0 yards per game thus far, though no one’s had a breakaway run yet, and only two 20-yard gains have been notched by New England runners.

The running game may actually prove of significance moreso than in most Patriots games: The Colts have allowed over 100 yards rushing in three games already this season and are naturally 0-3 SU (1-2 ATS) in those games. Meanwhile, the competent-if-flawed offenses of the Cincinnati Bengals and Houston Texans each ran up 30 on Indianapolis, and the bookmakers clearly reckon New England is at least that good.

So yeah, let’s take the over on this one, and hope that TNF delivers…

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