The Indianapolis Colts were dealt a difficult hand to play this season. After Peyton Manning led the team through the best decade in team history (by far), Manning’s neck injury ended up sidelining the star for the 2011 season. Kerry Collins was brought in and, predictably, that hasn’t worked out well. Now the Colts are going with Curtis Painter – Manning’s understudy – and Painter has shown some promise. They’re still looking for their first win of the season and they’ll have a tough time getting it this Sunday night in New Orleans.
The Saints opened as 14 point favorites and the line has been tough to read. Some books have brought it back to 13 ½ while others are posting as high as 15 points. Navigate to Maddux Sports pro football betting lines page to see where sites are currently posting the game. The public is playing the Saints at about 2:1, which makes me think a decent amount of sharp money has come in on the visiting Colts. For another one of Maddux Sports free picks, consider backing the Colts with more than two full touchdowns.
The technical numbers support a play on Indy. Over the past three seasons against the spreads (and remember, these are with Manning), the Colts are 12-6 on the road, 11-5 against teams with a winning record, and 6-3 in nonconference games. Since 1992, they’re 8-2 ats against the NFC South, and this season they’re 2-0 as an underdog of 10 or more points. The Saints have been particularly bad in this type of situation. In the past three seasons they’re 4-11 against teams with a losing record, 3-10 off a division game, 1-3 off a loss to a division rival, and 2-5 as a home favorite of 10 ½ to 14 points. Since 1992, they’re 2-10 as a favorite of 10 points or more.
Indianapolis is playing for respect, and I love backing a double digit underdog with a chip on its shoulder. They haven’t won a game all season, but since getting embarrassed by Houston in week 1, the Colts have actually been in every single game. Last week against Cincinnati, the Colts were trailing by 3 late in the game when Adam Vinatieri’s 52 yard field goal was blocked. After that, a late fumble was returned 35 yards for a touchdown. The two times they were lined as a double digit underdog (Pittsburgh and at Tampa Bay) they lost by 3 and 7 respectively. The Saints aren’t much better than either of those two teams – if at all. In fact, New Orleans lost by 6 in Tampa last week.
Also keep in mind, this is a proud football team. The Colts have been one of the best teams in the NFL in the past 10 years and although Manning is injured, there are a lot of talented players on this team. Similar to the idea of playing for respect, this team is too proud to mail in a game. Two touchdowns is a ridiculous amount of points to give in the NFL.
Another reason for liking the Colts is that they’re a dome team. Playing in the Superdome shouldn’t bother them at all.
Don’t be scared away by the fact that Peyton Manning is not leading the Colts this season. The initial shock has worn off and Indy has settled into the reality of its situation. And in fairness, they haven’t been as bad as their record indicates. They’ve lost by 10 points or fewer in each of their last five games. Consider grabbing the points and backing a big underdog with purpose. Good luck!