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Indianapolis Colts (8-2) vs. Atlanta Falcons (3-7)
Thanksgiving Day Football – November 22, 8:15 PM | Turf of Georgia Dome
Opening NFL Betting Line: Colts by 11
The visitors in NBC’s Thanksgiving night matchup, the Indianapolis Colts (8-2 SU, 6-4 ATS), are trying to get out of a mini-slump on offense, while the home team, the Atlanta Falcons (3-7 SU, 6-4 ATS), find themselves trying find some offense – period. The two meet at 8:15 PM ET on Thursday evening at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta (artificial turf). In the Top Sportsbooks NFL football betting odds, the Colts are listed at -13.5 with the over/under posted at 43 points.
First, let’s take a look at the TOTALS-RELATED pro football betting and stats trends concerning this matchup:
* INDY has played seven UNDERS in ten games this season
* INDY has played five straight games UNDER the total
* INDY has played six UNDERS in its last seven road games
* INDY has averaged 27.8 ppg this season
* INDY has averaged 26.6 ppg on the road this season
* ATLANTA has played seven UNDERS in ten games this season
* ATLANTA has played five UNDERS in its last six games
* ATLANTA has played 18 of its last 26 games UNDER the total
* ATLANTA has averaged 14.2 ppg this season
* ATLANTA has averaged 14.3 ppg at home this season
The Indianapolis Colts have struggled putting points on the board the last few games as injuries have insinuated their way into the offense. And for an offense that relies on timing, those absences have become difficult to deal with. Future Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison (doubtful for Thursday) and first-round draft choice Anthony Gonzalez have each missed time over the last month, and left tackle Tony Ugoh was not available for last Sunday’s game against Kansas City. Kicker Adam Vinatieri has a bad leg, which caused him to miss four straight make-able field goals until knocking a couple though against the Chiefs. Wide receiver Aaron Moorehead, who was filling in, left the K.C. game with back spasms, and right tackle Ryan Diem got knocked out of action with an ankle injury. Who will play out of that group has not been determined yet.
Fortunately for the Indianapolis crew, they possess a high-caliber defense that goes under-appreciated by many casual fans. The Colts rank fourth in the NFL in overall “D,” yielding only 266 yards a game, and have tightened things up considerably against the run as compared to last season, surrendering just 3.9 per rushing attempt by the opposition. Atlanta has gotten inconsistent quarterback play at best from Joey Harrington, and on those days that coach Bobby Petrino appears to have committed to Byron Leftwich, who is not a good fit for his offensive scheme, things have the potential to go even slower. Leftwich was 15-of-28 for 106 yards and two pickoffs against the Bucs before he got yanked in favor of Harrington. Petrino had not decided who would be his QB as of Monday, and in fact does not seem to know from moment to moment who will have the reins. The rushing game could provide some answers, if it were at all consistent. But Warrick Dunn and Jerious Norwood combined for 36 yards on 17 carries in Sunday’s game. The Falcons have had to gain 20.5 yards per point scored, which is a terrible figure. if there is a bright spot, it is defensively, where Atlanta ranks in the top half of the league at #16. The stop unit has helped this team cover six out of ten games on the year.
On the other side, people look at Peyton Manning and the offensive weapons the Colts have at their disposal and are under the impression this is a team that is involved in a lot of high-scoring games. Well, yes and no. Indianapolis has in fact played five straight games under the number, and part of it, aside from the Colt defense and less offensive punch because of injuries, is that Manning, as essentially the coach on the field, is perfectly content with engineering drives that chew clock, if the situation presents itself. And in Joseph Addai (760 yards, 4.4 ypc), he has a running back who can help him do that.
We liked the Atlanta-Tampa Bay game to go under the total last Sunday, and though it didn’t, it wasn’t because the Falcons didn’t do their part. In fact, they do their part well enough, often enough – five times in the last six games and 18 of the last 26 – to justify more faith in them here.
NFL football betting odds: Indianapolis -13.5, Total 43
NOTABLE STAT: Atlanta is averaging 20.5 yards per point his season
KEY NFL FOOTBALL BETTING TREND: Indianapolis has played five straight under the total
NFL Free Pick: JAY’S PLAY: UNDER 43 ** (Graded on a scale of 1-4 stars)
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