Thursday Night Football Preview (Indianapolis at New England)
The Thursday Night crew heads to New England this week as the Patriots square off with the struggling Indianapolis Colts. For years, the Colts/Pats rivalry, headlined by Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, was among the most competitive in Football. Unfortunately, the Colts haven’t been able to challenge the Patriots in quite the same way since Manning left - going without a win against the Patriots since 2009.
Andrew Luck will look to begin a new era as he comes off a noble performance against the Texans, where he threw 60 times for nearly 500 yards. Yards might be harder to come by on Thursday night against a solid New England pass defense that ranks top ten in the league. He may also be without his number one receiver TY Hilton, who was responsible for 115 yards on Sunday. Fifth year receiver Ryan Grant will take over the WR1 role.
On the other side of the field, Tom Brady seems to be getting back into midseason form, coming off a 38-7 rout of the previously undefeated Miami Dolphins. He will have lots of opportunity to pass the football against an Indy pass defense offering up 268 passing yards a game. Tom won't have to do it alone, though. He is joined on the field by an elite collection of skill players including Rob Gronkowski, James White, former Colt Phillip Dorsett, and the electric-though-enigmatic Josh Gordon. Not to mention the season debut of WR1 Julian Edelman, who is returning from suspension.
While Tom Brady will seemingly have lots of opportunity to show off his passing prowess, the real standout is set to be rookie running back Sony Michel who is coming off a breakout performance. Michel will line up opposite a Colts run defense giving up 109 yards per game on the ground.
The math for this matchup is not hard to do. New England has a plethora of weapons backed by a solid defense, while Indy’s hope rests solely on Andrew Luck's not-yet-100% shoulder and a depleted receiving corps. The Pats will come in as 10.5 point favorites, a number that should be no problem to overcome for the dynasty.
Moneyline Pick - New England Patriots
ATS Pick - New England Patriots
Underdog of the Week Preview (Redskins vs New Orleans)
We have to go all the way to Monday Night to find a live dog, but we found a good one. Monday Night Football will feature a heavyweight showdown between the Washington Redskins and the New Orleans Saints. The Redskins, who are coming off a week of rest, are 2-1 with decisive wins over the Cardinals and the Packers. They will storm the Superdome as 6.5 point underdogs against an explosive New Orleans Saint squad, who are putting up 34.25 points a game.
As expected, and as always, the New Orleans Saints have brought one of the most electrifying offenses in the league, led by future Hall of Fame Drew Brees who is averaging over 300 yards a game through the air. It won’t be all sunshine and rainbows for Brees this week though, as he will square up against the 3rd best passing defense in the league.
Yards on the ground won’t be easy either, as the Redskins boast the 7th ranked rushing defense in the league, allowing just 90 yards a game. Luckily for Saints running back Alvin Kamara, who has transformed into one of the best backs in the league, he won’t have to go it alone. Saints staple Mark Ingram will make his long awaited return after serving a four game suspension. His usage is a big question mark as of right now, but his presence will surely be felt.
Speaking of powerful running attacks, look no further than the dynamic Redskins rushing attack featuring powerhouse Adrian Peterson and the elusive Chris Thompson. The one-two punch has helped generate the 5th ranked rushing attack in the league. Thompson is no slouch in the passing game either as he leads the team in receptions.
The road to victory will likely go through the arm of Alex Smith, as he has the unique challenge of facing a top three run defense and a bottom three passing defense. The Redskins passing attack has been average, but the dynamic nature of the offense should give Smith some room to throw.
Overall, this game should be a back and forth matchup that sees teams having to rely on their weaknesses for success. While it seems like the Saints have a clearer road to victory, the Redskins should be able to keep them within arms length and cover an inflated 6.5 point spread.
Moneyline Pick - New Orleans Saints
ATS Pick - Washington Redskins
Uninformed Pick of the Week (Miami at Cincinnati)
Disclaimer: The Uninformed Pick of the Week is a for-fun take on one matchup from the NFL schedule where a winner is chosen based on illogical reasoning. Bet wisely!
In years past this game might’ve been viewed as a wash. The perpetually underperforming Dolphins, now 3-1 on the season, have a very rare divisional lead over the 2-2 Patriots a quarter of the way through the season, despite a loss last week at New England. QB Ryan Tannehill seems to finally have it together and coach Adam Gase’s team is playing as well as it has at any point since 2008.
On the other side of the field are the better-than-expected Bengals, who’ve lost a lot of supporting talent the past few years and have played accordingly, missing the playoffs the past two years. This year, with the resurgence of passer Andy Dalton, The Bengals are one of the hottest offensive units in football, sitting pretty with a 3-1 record and a huge divisional win against Baltimore in Week 2.
But, at the heart of this Week 5 battle, is the following question: Who would win in a real life battle between a dolphin and bengal tiger? The smartest animal in the ocean versus the endangered feline. Could dolphins rise out of the water to live on land and takeover the world? The Simpsons sure seem to think so, and the results weren’t pretty for us humans. We aren’t ruling it out.
However, it’s thought that there are no more than 2500 bengal tigers left in the world. The game of football often comes down to protection: which team protects the quarterback best; who protects the football best; who protects the clock (time of possession) best?
Who or what on Earth gets more protection than endangered species?
Look for Cincy to protect the ball better than Miami at all levels and come out with a close win at home.
Moneyline Pick - Cincinnati Bengals
ATS Pick - Miami Dolphins (+6.5)