The NFL is treating football fans and bettors Saturday evening, as the Indianapolis Colts host the New England Patriots in a box-office affair. Playoff berths and postseason positioning are on the line for both teams.
Before we get into player props, including anytime touchdown scorer odds, let’s look at this matchup from a big-picture perspective. FanDuel has pegged the Colts as 2.5-point favorites with a total of 45.5. This is a classic strength vs. strength matchup. The Colts rank No. 1 in rush DVOA and No. 7 in overall offensive DVOA, an advanced efficiency metric, and the Patriots boast the league’s No. 2 overall defense by the same measure.
The Colts have eclipsed 30 points in seven of their previous eight contests. That includes 41 against the Buffalo Bills in Week 11. We’ve since seen the Bills struggle defensively, though, and the Patriots may present the Colts with their stiffest challenge over this recent run of quality play.
Given the odds available around the betting market and context surrounding them, it’s reasonable to anticipate four total touchdowns in a balanced affair. We’re keeping that number in mind as we move forward.
Patriots-Colts Anytime Touchdown Scorer Props
The Patriots have scored 15 of their 33 offensive touchdowns on the ground. Thus, we’re naturally interested in their backfield as we look for potential touchdown scorers. (We’ll touch on the Colts in the next section.)
Rhamondre Stevenson +115 | Brandon Bolden +270
It’s not a stretch to suggest the Patriots backfield will play an integral role in their offensive production. Damien Harris (hamstring) will be sidelined on Saturday, along with his team-leading 177 touches and nine touchdowns. Stevenson is second on the team with 112 touches. He has only three scores, but he’s in position to earn more opportunities in that department. Bolden has just one touchdown , but he’s a sneaky play at +270 with increased playing time in his cards.
Kendrick Bourne +160 | Hunter Henry +210 | Nelson Agholor +280
The Patriots are happy to run the rock ad nauseum, but they have scored 18 touchdowns through the air. The Colts have allowed 6.3 receptions, 66.7 yards, and 0.5 touchdowns per game to the tight end position this season. Those per-game numbers against opposing wide receivers have come to 11.8-141.5-1.3.
Henry ranks second on the team with seven touchdowns. He’s been quiet in that department in recent weeks, but he collected those seven scores over a seven-game stretch, so we know he can go on a run. At +210, Henry is a solid bet to become reacquainted with the painted area.
In a vacuum, Bourne represents a solid gamble as well — his five scores rank third on the Patriots overall and second among pass-catchers. His +160 odds are friendly enough, but bettors willing to roll the dice on a Patriot reeling in a touchdown owe it to themselves to consider Agholor. He has only three scores this season, but he’s the type of player who can get loose for a deep shot or even take a crosser to the house.
More Patriots-Colts Player Props
Jonathan Taylor: Anytime TD (-260) | Rushing Yards: O/U 93.5 yards (-114) | Receiving Yards: O/U 19.5 yards (-114)
Taylor has been the premier back in the league this season, and we can be sure the Patriots are treating him as such. Stopping him completely doesn’t seem like a realistic endeavor, but slowing him is more doable. His 18 touchdowns lead the team by a wide gulf, but -260 is a steep price to pay for a player who figures to have 11 sets of eyes on him at all times.
The yardage props require more thought at -114. Taylor has rushed for at least 94 yards in seven games this season while gaining 20 or more yards through the air in four contests. If we’re to accept the Patriots will force the Colts to play left-handed, as is their M.O., we prefer to bet on Taylor hitting 20 receiving yards as opposed to him gaining 94 on the ground.
Michael Pittman Jr.: Anytime TD (+155) | Receiving Yards: O/U 54.5 yards (-114)
Pittman Jr. leads the Colts in targets (99) and is second on the team in touchdowns (five). As their No. 1 receiver, he’s subject to find himself under the Patriots’ microscope as well. The Colts do a pretty good job of spreading out the touchdowns behind Taylor, so we’re not bullish about gambling on a score even at this reasonable price.
However, we do like the OVER on 54.5 receiving yards. He’s eclipsed that mark in nine games and is averaging 13.2 yards per grab. As well as the Patriots have played defensively of late, and for how much success they typically enjoy by eliminating an opponents’ top weapon(s), it’s going to be difficult to suppress both Taylor and Pittman Jr.
Those interested in assuming a bit more risk in exchange for the heightened reward should take an extra look at the Colts backfield.
Even though we’re avoiding Taylor to score a touchdown at -260, we’re intrigued by his +270 odds to score multiple times. The Colts are laying 2.5 points, and if they are to win the contest, it’s likely Taylor will play an integral role. He doesn’t need to rack up a ton of yardage to punch in a couple of short scores or even take a short pass for a touchdown.
Finally, Nyheim Hines is +300 to score a touchdown. He has only two on his ledger for the season, so the long odds are expected. But he’s a damn good “left hand” for the Colts to lean upon if/when necessary. Hines’ appeal comes from the fact that he’s demonstrated a nose for the end zone as a rusher (nine), receiver (six), and returner (two) over his career.