What NFL experts are predicting for Saturday’s Patriots-Colts game

Indianapolis Colts running back Deon Jackson runs the ball during a Dec. 5 game against the Houston Texans. AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman

I miss making fun of the Colts. 

The Patriots haven’t faced their often-overmatched rivals since 2018, months before New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels left Indianapolis and its head coaching job at the altar in order to continue his duties at Gillette Stadium. That’s too long. 

It’s always been fun keeping tabs on Indianapolis’ inferiority complex. Make fun of the Patriots all you want for their 16-0 banner, but the Krafts never commissioned one especially for being finalist, as the Colts managed to do in 2014. Of course, Deflategate started with the Colts, an equipment violation that Indy managed to inflate into a stain upon humanity. There was the fake punt formation born out of buffoonery. Even old pal Gregg Doyel resurfaced this week, when the columnist at the Indy Star lashed out at McDaniels and head coach Bill Belichick with all the maturity and articulation of Bubba from Danvers. 

From piping crowd noise into its stadium to Peyton Manning’s brown box deliveries, the Colts have never been on the side of mischief though. The White Knights of the NFL have positioned themselves as some sort of moral hierarchy in a league built on duplicity. 


I’m looking forward to Saturday night’s game with great interest. After all, the last time these two teams met on a Saturday night, it turned into the dumbest scandal to ever inflict professional sports only two mornings later. What do the imperious Indianapolis folk have in store for whining and crying if things don’t manage to go their way again?

It’s been too long. It’s always delicious when these two meet. 

This week’s predictions:

Globe staff: Split (New England +2.5). 

Joe Giglio, Patriots. Bill Belichick will sell out to stop Jonathan Taylor and force Carson Wentz to beat him. We know how this will end.

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Colts 24, Patriots 20. “This is a huge game for both teams and both are coming off the bye, so there is no advantage. The Patriots were dominant in the wind last game against the Bills with their run game. They will try and use that again here to key the offense, but it won’t be nearly as successful. The Colts will do the same with Jonathan Taylor. I think the Colts get the best of it.”


John Breech, CBS Sports: Patriots 20, Colts 17. “If the Patriots blow out the Colts, there’s a good chance we’re never going to see anyone volunteer for “Hard Knocks” ever again. Belichick has a chance to crush the Colts’ playoff chances and ruin a TV show in one week. I doubt he passes up that opportunity.” 

Michael Hurley, CBS Boston: New England (+2.5). “There’s just not a ton of evidence that says they’ll beat the Patriots on Saturday night. They could. But I’m going with the team and head coach that has unequivocally owned the team with the horseshoe helmets — through multiple quarterbacks, through multiple head coaches, through one unforgettable fake punt — since 2010. (In the post-Peyton Manning era, the Patriots are 8-0 vs. their former AFC rivals. New England has averaged 40 points per game.)”  

Jimmy Kempski, Philly Voice: Patriots. “The Patri*ts have won seven straight by a combined score of 225-73, while the Colts have won four of five. They are two of the hottest teams in the NFL, but the Patri*ts are hotter. #Analysis.” 

ESPN staff: Eight out of 11 go with the Patriots. 


Frank Schwab, Yahoo! Sports: Colts (-2.5). “This continues to be a surprising line. You’d think public perception would be that the Patriots would blow out the 7-6 Colts. But apparently the Colts are getting some respect. This is a big game for them and they match up pretty well, so let’s take them at less than a field goal.” 

Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Colts 23, Patriots 20. “The Patriots have a tricky matchup after a bye, given the Colts are hosting the game after their bye. Frank Reich does well in these situations, counteracting what Bill Belichick’s team tends to do. The Colts will throw off the Patriots with their run-heavy attack with Jonathan Taylor, avoiding their strength in pass defense. They also can win up front to contain Mac Jones’ help. Indianapolis makes a mild statement in pushing for its own playoff return.”

Bill Bender, Sporting News: Patriots 29, Colts 27. “It’s no longer Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning. Mac Jones and Carson Wentz will have to do, and the Patriots will look to slow down Jonathan Taylor coming off a bye week. The Colts are hanging in the AFC Playoff race, but New England has won the last eight meetings. Make it nine in a row.”

Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: Patriots 20, Colts 14. “The Patriots continue to roll, and they continue to relish any win they can get over the team that sparked #Deflategate.”

Michael David Smith, Pro Football Talk: Patriots 13, Colts 10. “I was surprised to see the Colts are favored in this one. I like Bill Belichick’s defense to shut down Carson Wentz and win a low-scoring game.” 


FiveThirtyEight: Pick ‘em. 

Gregg Rosenthal, Patriots 27, Colts 24. “In a battle between one of the league’s hottest defenses (New England) and hottest offenses (Indianapolis), I’d typically lean offense. The Patriots’ defensive front can be moved in the running game and the Colts can match power with power. Indianapolis’ defense, however, is often too willing to give up the short stuff in hopes of avoiding a big play. Mac Jones is happy to take what’s given, and I still trust Bill Belichick more in a close game where situational football rules. These are two of the top four teams in turnover margin, so it probably will come down to which side makes the bigger mistake. I trust Jones a bit more than Carson Wentz on that front.”

NFL Pickwatch: Sixty-seven percent, Patriots. 

It says here: Patriots 24, Colts 21. If this were baseball, the Colts would probably have Jim McNally throw the first pitch.


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