Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 10:45 AM EST odds are subject to change.
Indianapolis +5 over New England
1:00 PM EST. We’re hearing lots of talk this week about Bill Bellichick preparing to face a rookie QB making his second start of the season and how the rookie QB has no shot of success. We’re reading and hearing how Bellichick schemes to take away what the opposition does well but Indy doesn’t do anything well. The narrative is that the rookie is in for a rude awakening. That may be true but we’ll reiterate that we’re not believers in Bill Bellichick being the genius that the media makes him out to be. He stands out because 90% of the coaches over the past 40 years don’t know their ass from their elbow when it comes to in-game decisions. Belichick does. Dude was a genius when he had Tom Brady in his prime. Bill Belichick’s record without Tom Brady is 75-83. Tom Brady’s record without Bill Bellichick is 27-12. Tom Brady made Bill Bellichick. In fact, BB chose Drew Bledsoe as his starting QB in 2001 with Brady being the backup. Had Bledsoe not gotten injured that season, Brady wouldn’t even have played.
Coming off a fifth-place finish in the AFC East during head coach Bill Belichick's first season in 2000, the Patriots were not expected to fare much better in 2001. In the second game of the regular season, nine-year starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe, who had received a 10-year contract extension in March was injured causing backup Tom Brady, a sixth-round draft pick in 2000, to enter the game after serving as the Patriots' 4th string rookie the season before. The Patriots lost the game to fall to 0–2, but Brady started the final 14 games of the season and compiled an 11–3 record as a starter, helping the Patriots clinch the 2nd seed in the AFC playoffs and a first round bye. As a result, the Patriots became the first team in NFL history to win the Super Bowl after starting the season 1–3. The genius had Brady as the team’s 4th string QB. All of this has nothing to do with this game but it points out how this market and media have such an extreme fascination with winning and with BB. You know who else was a great coach? Tony Dungy when he had Peyton Manning in his prime and Sean Payton when he had Dree Brees in his prime.
The Colts are coming off a 17-16 home loss to Washington after making the switch to second year pivot Sam Ehlinger. The loss was obviously not what coach Frank Reich hoped to cook up when he made that controversial change. Reich fired offensive coordinator Marcus Brady this week, but came to the defense of offensive line coach Chris Strausser. Reich said he’s seen the improvement the line has made in recent weeks adding, “A lot of confidence in Strauss. He’s produced a lot of good offensive line play.”The heat is on Strausser because the Colts have the highest paid offensive line in football.
With that out of the way, let’s get back to Ehlinger, who played some good ball in Week 8. Ehlinger went 17-of-23 on his passes for 201 yards and while he did not throw a touchdown, he didn’t throw an interception either. Considering turnovers have been the Colts’ achilles heel all season, that’s a BIG positive. One of the big reasons that Reich decided to bench Matt Ryan was because the dude was a statue and could not move around in the backfield. Ehlinger's running ability gave the Colts a different dimension, which was exactly what the coach was looking for.
The Colts’ body of work this season is horrendous. There is no getting around that, but we trust that the Blue Horse Shoe is in better hands with Ehlinger than Ryan and we are willing to write off most of their struggles before the former took over. Notably, the Colts lead the NFL in turnovers with 16. You simply cannot turn the ball over at that clip and be successful. Meanwhile on the other end of that spectrum, the Patriots are second to just the 7-0 Eagles with 16 takeaways of their own. That’s why New England is winning and not because they are outplaying anyone.
For all the fuss made about the Colts' offensive line, the Pats have their own problems. In addition to the six sacks given up in Week 8. Rookie left guard, Cole Strange, was benched on Sunday after a pair of holding penalties and being on the hook for one of the sacks allowed. Right tackle is a mess, as neither Isaiah Wynn nor Marcus Cannon can secure the job. The status of starting center David Andrews is in doubt for another week and left tackle Trent Brown is tied for second in the league with seven penalties.
The Pats have quarterback issues of their own, as Mac Jones and the New England offense have managed just one touchdown in the two games since he returned from injury. Jones sports a disappointing 3-to-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio this season and he found himself on his ass six times last week after the Jets racked up six sacks. It’s pretty hard to cover a number when you are on your back looking at the stadium lights.
The Patriots are riding high on a 4-1 run against the spread over their last five games, which has built up trust in the market. The market is salivating at the chance to back Bill Belichik’s scheming here against a second year pivot making his second start, but we are not. There are many cracks in the Pats armor that not even the G.O.A.T. can coach his way out of. Sell high my friends.
Indianapolis +5 -107 (Risking 2.14 units - To Win: 2.00)