Indianapolis Colts at Arizona Cardinals Spread Pick
Opening Line: Cardinals -2
Indianapolis rallied from a 17-6 halftime deficit to defeat Tennessee 30-27 last Thursday. Arizona handled hapless Jacksonville 27-14 last Sunday.
The Colts have had their issues trying to establish the run and it won’t get easier facing the No.2 rush defense (81.4 ypg) in the NFL. RB Donald Brown has started to get more carries than RB Trent Richardson and does have the speed element that Richardson lacks. QB Andrew Luck misses WR Reggie Wayne (IR) but TE Coby Fleener has done a nice job of elevating his play. WR T.Y. Hilton remains the new go-to-guy and can really stretch a defense. The Cardinals yield 243.5 ypg through the air and Luck will want to take advantage of that. He is also capable of running for first downs and leads the team with four rushing TDs. Arizona has a decent pass rush and Luck will have to make some quick decisions in the pocket.
Like Indianapolis, Arizona wants to be able to run the ball effectively but they tallied just 14 yards on the ground last week (85.6 ypg for the year). Rookie RB Andre Ellington has rushed for 54 more yards than RB Rashard Mendenhall and has done it with 56 fewer carries. The Colts will want to keep Ellington from getting to the edges as the O-line has done a poor job of blocking for inside runs. QB Carson Palmer has thrown 14 TD passes on the year (same as Luck) but his 15 interceptions are nine more than the youngster. He has also taken a pounding in the backfield, getting sacked 27 times. WR Michael Floyd is out-producing the more heralded WR Larry Fitzgerald but part of that is because teams routinely double Fitzgerald. Indy’s pass rush rests with veteran OLB Robert Mathis (career-high 13.5 sacks). If he can get into Palmer’s face, he’ll force the veteran into some ill-advised throws.
ATS Game Pick
The Colts have a more balanced offense while the Cardinals have the better defense. Indy has beaten Denver, Seattle and San Francisco in 2012. The cumulative record of the teams Arizona has beaten over the past three games is 5-25. We also like Luck over Palmer in this one as the second-year player has done a better job of limiting ill-timed throws and has also carved out a reputation as a QB who can win games late. With the spread a non-factor, we’ll take Luck and the Colts in this one.
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