Nostrathomas Predicts: The NFL Provides a Saturday Night Special to Kickoff Week 15

With all the news that was coming out of NFL locker rooms this week concerning the rapid spread of Covid-19 throughout the league, we all knew what was coming. The NFL has moved three games on the Week 15 schedule.

The opener for tonight, the Las Vegas Raiders facing the Cleveland Browns has been moved to the opening game on Monday night. Washington at Philadelphia and Seattle Seahawks visiting the Los Angeles Rams will be played on Tuesday night.

NFL Saturday Night Spotlight

That leaves what promises to be an exciting game to occupy center stage tonight. Both the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts are fighting for postseason positions and need to put tonight’s game in the win column.

Nostrathomas has been hitting the win column the last couple of weeks. In Week 14, I went 9-4 against the spread and hit an “under” along with my other picks to put me at 10-4 against the spread. For the season my record is 127-72-1 straight-up and 103-96-2 against the spread.

Now it’s time to analyze how tonight’s game will play out.

New England Patriots vs Indianapolis Colts -2.5 (Saturday Night; Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN)

This game opened with the New England Patriots favored but has settled in with the Indianapolis Colts getting the home field spread. This is a bit odd considering that public money has been coming in heavier on road dog New England all week.

The Patriots have been strong on defense all season. They’re riding a seven-game winning streak that corresponds with the maturation of rookie quarterback Mac Jones. New England’s offense began finishing drives in the end zone instead of piling up points with field goals. The Patriots offense also started taking advantage turnovers and the positive field position that their defense was creating for them.

The Colts resurgence began when their offensive line returned to health. Indianapolis was eighth in rushing yards per attempt in Week 7, they’ve been first in that metric the last three weeks.

Everything with the Colts starts with running back Jonathan Taylor. Over the last five weeks he’s gained 699 yards on 120 carries for an average of 5.8-yards per carry. That also averages out to 139.8 yards per game.

New England can be run on. They are nineteenth in the league in rushing yards per attempt allowed. The only reason the Bills didn’t beat the Patriots in Week 13 at home in windy and wet conditions is because Buffalo is incapable of running the ball. The Patriots ran on all but three of their plays in that game.

In Week 12, Tennessee’s Dontrell Hilliard rushed for 139 yards in 12 carries and D’Onta Foreman rushed 19 times for 109 yards against the Patriot’s defense. The only reason the Titans lost that game is that Hilliard and Foreman lost one fumble each to add to an interception by Ryan Tannehill.

That’s where New England gets you. They force opponents into mistakes. They’ve taken the ball away 26 times in 13 games with 18 of those coming over the course of their seven-game win streak.

The thing is, the Patriots are playing a team that is just as good as they are in collecting turnovers. Indianapolis tops the NFL in turnover differential at 13.

Where the Colts go wrong is that they’ll get sloppy. They committed three turnovers in their 34-31 overtime loss to Tennessee in Week 8 and gave away the ball five times in a Week 13 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a game that wasn’t decided until the final minute.

Now, both teams are holding down AFC playoff spots but the Colts are in a more precarious position in regards to the postseason. They are one of five teams heading into Week 15 with 7-6 records. Indianapolis currently holds the edge among that group because of their conference winning percentage the Colts need this game to hold that edge.

Both Mac Jones and Carson Wentz have both been keys to their team’s success this season. With Jones you can remove the word “rookie” when describing him. He is NFL quarterback Mac Jones.

Wentz has shown this season that his career wasn’t over when the Philadelphia Eagles gave up on him. He has set up behind Indianapolis’ formidable front wall to throw 22 touchdown passes this season against only five interceptions.

One deciding point in this game is going to be health. The Colts are completely healthy at all key positions heading into this game. New England has center David Andrews (shoulder), tackles Trent Brown (calf/wrist) and Yodney Cajuste (Illness), running back Damien Harris (hamstring) and safety Adrian Phillips (Knee) all listed as questionable. In other words, they’ll play but certainly not at full strength.

All things considered, this will be a great game to watch. As for a winner, Nostrathomas is picking Indianapolis to win and cover the short spread.

Indianapolis Colts 28 New England Patriots 26

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