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Life changes drastically for rival Patriots, Colts

A game that had the NFL schedule makers drooling several months ago is not so attractive in November. The New England Patriots are visiting the Indianapolis Colts — and, oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Even without quarterback Tom Brady, the reigning Most Valuable Player, the Patriots are in good shape at 5-2.

The perception is out there that New England won’t be a factor when the playoffs roll around. I am not ready to make that decree.

The Colts, on the other hand, have struggled from the start and are lucky to be 3-4. If Minnesota and Houston had not gift-wrapped games for them with fourth-quarter implosions, the Colts would be keeping company with losers such as Cincinnati and Detroit.

What is striking about tonight’s game is the total. The Colts are 6-point favorites, but the total is only 44. In fact, most sports books opened the game at 45, and bettors are leaning toward the under.

Turn the clock back 363 days, and oddsmakers made the total 57 for last year’s Patriots-Colts game. It was one of the highest totals in NFL betting history, and New England won, 24-20.

Las Vegas Sports Consultants chief operating officer Kenny White’s research shows that only seven totals since 1980 had exceeded that number. The highest ever was 611/2 when St. Louis and San Francisco hooked up in Week 9 of the 2000 season.

As for now, life definitely has changed for AFC rivals Indianapolis and New England. But Patriots coach Bill Belichick is doing a better job of keeping things together in Brady’s absence.

“As we said several weeks ago, expect Belichick to concoct a serviceable plan of attack,” LVSC odds director Tony Sinisi said. “It’s Indianapolis that is confounding. We have witnessed a noticeable deterioration in Peyton Manning, seemingly overnight.”

LVSC oddsmaker Mike Seba made his adjustments and said, “I frankly think 44 is too generous. The lack of a running game combined with Manning’s lack of mobility makes this offense ordinary. With (safety) Bob Sanders in the Colts’ lineup, the Patriots’ offense also could struggle.”

As we reach the midpoint of the season, let’s review how Brett Favre has fared in New York. It has been a roller-coaster ride for the Jets quarterback.

Take away his shredding of Arizona that featured six touchdown passes and one interception, and Favre has passed for nine TDs and 10 interceptions. Last week, when caution was called for while trying to ice a home victory over lowly Kansas City, Favre threw an inexplicable pick that was returned 91 yards for a score. He did rally New York for the win, but that nonsense won’t fly as the competition gets tougher.

The past three weeks, Favre’s quarterback rating has featured less than impressive figures: 73.9, 47.8 and 76.

“In the cold reality of our world, the love affair for Favre is certainly fan driven, not oddsmaker driven,” Sinisi said. “Our reality is that we’re at odds with public perception when it comes to Favre.”

The Jets are 51/2-point underdogs at Buffalo today. The Bills are coming off a loss at Miami in their first division game of the season, and they will be in ill humor.

It will serve the Jets well if Favre can protect the ball in a hostile environment. But that might be easier said than done for the stubborn gunslinger.

“The Jets don’t have an identity,” LVSC oddsmaker Sean Van Patten said. “If Favre can take a step back, their chances improve. In the weeks that they’ve focused on the run, the results speak volumes.”

Brian Blessing, project manager for Las Vegas Sports Consultants, can be reached at bblessing@lvsc.com. Listen to the LVSC oddsmakers on “Sportsbook Radio,” at 4 p.m. weekdays on Fox Sports Radio (920 AM). Visit vegassportsconnect.com for more odds information.

 

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