The Patriots opened as 7.5-point favorites as they host the Indianapolis Colts in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
I have a bit of a mea culpa to deliver this week – I totally tuned out of the Colts-Chiefs game shortly after halftime. I thought to myself that even Andy Reid can’t blow this one. I figured the Colts would at least draw a little closer, but I didn’t even know that they pulled off one of the biggest comebacks in playoff history until I saw the final score flash behind the announcers during the Eagles-Saints game. I picked the Chiefs to win and thought I had it in the bag (although they still thankfully covered). Weird things just seem to happen when I turn off the TV, so I’ll be glued to the game this weekend if the Patriots are winning, and I’ll go ice skating or something if the Colts are up two scores.
There isn’t really such a thing as a trap game in the playoffs; every team has to focus on the team in front of them, and no opponent is taken lightly. But this appears to be the kind of game that will not be decided until the final possession. The Colts are vulnerable on defense, so the Pats should have no trouble putting some points on the scoreboard. But the injuries on defense (really? we had to lose Spikes too? really, Universe?) coupled with the diversity of the Indianapolis offense could spell trouble for New England if the Colts are efficient in the red zone and protect the football.
Given the injuries on defense and the competitive fire of the opposing quarterback, it’s tough to lay more than a TD to the visitors. I’m taking the Colts and the points.
Chargers (+10) @ Broncos
San Diego wrote the script for taking down the Broncos a few weeks ago – limit the amount of time Peyton Manning possesses the football, and make every drive count. San Diego is very much a ball-control kind of team. Even if Denver cashes in on 80% of their drives, the Chargers should cover without having to worry about Von Miller screaming off the edge after Rivers.
Saints (+7.5) @ Seahawks
I’m starting to wonder if something is wrong with Russell Wilson. Five turnovers in three games is a bit uncharacteristic. New Orleans has its share of flaws (other than levee design … wah wah), but they also have a reasonable chance to knock off a Seahawks team that has shown a few chinks in the armor in recent weeks.
49ers (-1) @ Panthers
It’s exceedingly rare to see a road team favored in the Divisional Round, but I think the confidence in San Francisco is warranted. It’s not always the best team that makes it to the Super Bowl – it’s the hottest team in January. The 49ers were on a roll coming into the playoffs, and they have the look of a championship-level team.
2013 Record ATS: 24-28-3
Record ATS since 2010: 130-126-5