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AFC Championship Patriots at Colts

January 20, 2007

AFC Championship - New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts (-3, 47.5) 6:30 PM EST

New England will try to spoil the hopes and dreams of yet another home team who has been destined for greatness. Last week it finally seemed that Marty Shottenhiemer had all the right pieces to at least make it a Super Bowl. This week Peyton Manning will have to carry that same burden, since many assumed the NFL’s top quarterback would go on to be fitted not just for one but a couple rings signifying his team was the best in the sport. Much like a Phil Mickelson, he came along just when a dynasty was in the making.

For the first time, the general public is tired of seeing New England winning and Manning and his Colts, though favored, are in the role of the sympathetic underdog. Call it Belichick and Brady backlash. The transformation the Indianapolis defense has made is more dramatic then Donald Trump’s latest hairstyling’s. The well told story of being the worst rush defense at 173 yards per game into one that 127 yards total in the playoffs may have the Ripley’s “Believe it or Not” people coming to the Hoosier state today. The return of Bob Sanders has added a toughness that was missing for months, yet the hidden gem is Rob Morris back at linebacker making them stout up the middle.

Once people have established something in there minds, those habits die hard. Starting in 2001 when New England went on first Super Bowl run, the Patriots did own Indianapolis and beat them six times in a row. In each case a somewhat flawed team met a more complete squad and was beaten. As the Colts continued to improve, last season they beat-up the Pats at Foxboro 40-21 and defeated them again this 27-20. So much for “owning” Manning now.

To erase that stigma Indianapolis must defeat New England and advance to the Super Bowl, with what would be considered the weakest Colts team in probably four years. That doesn’t mean they aren’t a very good team, as Pittsburgh showed us of what could be an emerging trend, it’s about getting hot at the right time.

The odd matter in this AFC Championship contest is neither team was thought to be the best at the end of the regular season. Many bettors saw scenarios of Kansas City running up and down the field on the Colts and only an ardent few gave New England a chance of winning in Southern California last week. Yet hear they are.

Most bettors find it even harder to ignore the Patriots’ postseason excellence with this current group. 11-1 in playoffs assuredly deserves attention as does 10-1 ATS mark in the RCA Dome. Brady, much like Joe Montana, has plenty of parts of his game, to were this quarterback or that quarterback might be better at something then him, however as he has proven, he has it all over the rest of them with burning desire to just win games. Presently he has no peer in this category.

The Colts are 3-point favorites with the total adjusted downward to 47.5 points at

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