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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:55 PM

MNF - Colts at Saints

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Indianapolis at New Orleans (-9, 47), 8:15 pm ET, ESPN

The Colts will be eliminated with a loss and have no room for error, so if you’re into backing blind desperation, the guys in blue are for you. Of course, you could be stuck riding a horse that’s done bucking and now looks is looking for a nice stable to sleep in as they ride into that sunset.

I’ll spare you any further analogies of what retired horses do, but these Colts are certainly nearly out of gas and you can read on to the injury report below to see just how compromised they are and have been on that side of the ball. The Saints have wrapped up their NFC South title but are still vying to avoid playing on Wild Card weekend, so they’ll be heavily invested in making sure they come out of this one victorious.

After losing to the 49ers on a last-second Robbie Gould field goal last week, New Orleans dropped out of the driver’s seat as far as controlling its own destiny goes but can still finish at 13-3 by running the table with wins at Tennessee and Carolina to close out its schedule following this home regular-season finale.



Even with the 49ers being upset late in Sunday’s home date with a Falcons team that also hung an unexpected loss on the Saints in New Orleans, the winner of the San Francisco-Seattle Week 17 showdown will likely finish with a 13-3 record. If it’s the Seahawks, the Saints will hold tiebreaker over them by virtue of a head-to-head win. If it’s the 49ers, they won’t.

The Packers are also in the mix for a 13-3 finish and close out with a Monday night visit to Minnesota next week and close with a stop in Detroit, so they’ll also factor into the homefield mix as the NFC playoff picture is certain not to shake out until Week 17’s games are played. The Saints are a perfect 3-0 coming off losses, winning each time by eight or more points to post a 3-0 ATS record after setbacks.

Indianapolis comes in off a 38-35 loss to the Buccaneers in which it fell at home despite Jameis Winston’s turnover issues, ultimately being unable to stop a passing attack that also generated multiple big plays despite losing top receiver Mike Evans to a hamstring injury as he finished off a long touchdown run after a deep ball from Winston. While Indianapolis has been solid against the run, ranking eighth in yards allowed, they’re 22nd of 32 in pass defense and have dealt with personnel issues due to injuries for the better part of the season.

That’s not a great matchup when you have to deal with Drew Brees and the player who has been the league’s most productive receiver this season since Michael Thomas, whose 121 catches for 1,424 yards top the NFL, has proven he can’t be stopped whether his quarterback is Brees or backups Teddy Bridgewater and Taysom Hill. Thomas has a streak of hauling in at least 10 receptions for over 100 yards at home going and has seven games with at least 10 catches, tied for most in league annals.

History can also be made tonight if Brees is able to throw three touchdown passes since he’s moved just behind Peyton Manning (539) for most in NFL history and would get to 540 if he can throw three. If the opportunity is there, count on Sean Payton to make sure he gets this record at home in what will be the team’s final regular-season date so that he can be properly honored. While Tom Brady is in the mix with 538 TD passes, Brees is likely to keep the Patriots' quarterback in his rear-view mirror based on what we've seen this season and his stated desire to continue playing a few more seasons.



I’d back a 3-plus touchdown prop if you can find it. Since returning from the thumb injury that caused him to miss over a month of action, Brees has thrown for three or more scores in four of six games, tossing five in the loss to the 49ers.

Although Thomas continues to be the top target, the fact Ted Ginn, Tre’Quan Smith and tight end Jared Cook have all gotten healthier and have also made big plays in the passing game has made the Saints awfully effective.

Count on the Colts looking to slow the game down and try and control time of possession since that’s likely the best way to get out of the Superdome with an upset. RB Marlon Mack is up to 900 yards rushing for the season and has been steady behind Indy’s above-average offensive line, while backup Nyheim Hines has been extremely productive catching passes out of the backfield to help offset the team’s injury-related issues at wide receiver. The Colts have the sixth-ranked rushing attack in the NFL but have struggled to keep up the pace through the air, particularly recently.

Without T.Y. Hilton, Jacoby Brissett has struggled some after a fantastic start despite being thrust into the starter’s role by the sudden retirement of Andrew Luck. The Colts fell apart without him in losing to the Dolphins under Brian Hoyer’s job but have seen him struggle since his return from a sprained left MCL. Brissett has thrown for four touchdowns and three interceptions but could catch a break with Hilton being listed as a game-time decision.

There’s no question Hilton will want to be out there with his team making their first Monday Night Football appearance since 2016 but he didn’t practice Saturday, so his status is up in the air. According to Stephen Holder, beat writer for The Athletic, head coach Frank Reich doesn’t want his star wideout playing unless he’s 100 percent but Hilton has balked at the idea of shutting it down despite Indianapolis’ bleak playoff chances.

TOTAL TALK

The total for the Week 15 finale opened at 45 and the number has been bumped up to 46 ½ and 47 at the majority of sportsbooks as of Monday morning. The totals market has had nice back and forth results this season in non-conference games and the ‘over’ holds a slight 28-27 edge but the high side did go 3-0 on Sunday in NFC-AFC matchups.

Chris David of VegasInsider.com handicaps the total for the second to last MNF matchup of the season.

“Anytime there’s a game in the Superdome, you’re automatically thinking shootout but it depends on what the opponent is bringing the table,” said David. “Ironically, the Colts have produced 8-5 ‘over’ results this season while the Saints own a 7-6 mark to the side. Even if Brees and the Saints offense are known to put a dud at home every now and then in the regular season, the attack can ring up 30-plus points routinely.”

The NFC South matched up against the AFC South this season for non-conference games and the Saints have gone 2-0 SU and 1-1 ATS while the total went 1-1. The Colts own a 1-1 record (1-0-1 ATS) versus their NFC counterparts but the ‘over’ holds a 2-0 mark with Indy averaging 31 PPG in those affairs. Both clubs finish out their non-conference slates in Week 16 with the Colts hosting Carolina and the Saints visiting Tennessee.

David likes what he sees from Indianapolis in these NFC matchups and he likes the trends against the AFC for the Saints as well.

“Brees has had plenty of recent success against AFC foes, especially at home. The club has won four straight and that includes the Week 1 rally past the Texans,” David said. “More importantly, the offense is averaging 28.3 PPG in their last 10 at home in non-conference games and that’s resulted in an 8-2 ‘over’ mark. The Colts are on a 3-0 ‘over’ run in games against NFC teams and I expect that trend to continue here. I believe both teams will get into the twenties on MNF and the winner will see a minimum of 30 points.”

LINE MOVEMENT

Indianapolis Colts
Projected season win total: 7.5 (Over -110, Under -110)
Odds to win AFC South (pre-Week 1/current): 7/2 to 80/1
Odds to win AFC (pre-Week 1/current): 40/1 to 250/1
Odds to win Super Bowl (pre-Week 1/current): 80/1 to 500/1
 
New Orleans Saints
Projected season win total: 10.5 (Over +120, Under -140)
Odds to win NFC South (pre-Week 1/current): 5/7 to OFF (Cashed)
Odds to win NFC (pre-Week 1/current): 5/1 to 2/1
Odds to win Super Bowl (pre-Week 1/current): 12/1 to 5/1

INJURY CONCERNS

This game will be vital for the Saints in that it will supply the first real opportunity to see how the defensive is going to respond without DT Sheldon Rankins (ankle) and DE Marcus Davenport (foot), who were lost to season-ending injuries last week. Kiko Alonso will be sidelined too and was badly missed in the middle last week, while CBs Patrick Robinson, Johnson Bademosi and safety Vonn Bell are going to miss this game too. Sack master Cameron Jordan will play, as will LB A.J. Klein. Up front, while tackle Terron Armstead will play, counterpart Andrus Peat is sidelined again.

Beyond Hilton’s availability, the Colts have CB Rock Ya-Sin banged up but expect to have him out there and hope fellow corner Pierre Desir (groin) can participate. Fellow CB Kenny Moore has already been ruled out. WR Paris Campbell became the latest receiver to be lost for the season, joining Chester Rodgers and tight end Eric Ebron. Dontrelle Inman was re-signed due to his familiarity with the Colts system while young Marcus Johnson and Zach Pascal should do the heavy lifting if Hilton can’t go. Kicker Adam Vinatieri was placed on IR earlier this month. Rookie Chase McLaughlin is handling those duties.

RECENT MEETINGS
(Saints 7-2 SU, 6-3 ATS last 9, UNDER 5-4)

10/25/15 Saints 27-21 at Colts (NO +4, 52)
10/23/11 Saints 62-7 at Colts (NO -14, 49)
9/6/07 Colts 41-10 vs. Saints (IND -5.5, 53.5)
9/28/03 Colts 55-21 at Saints (IND -1.5, 42)
11/18/01 Saints 34-20 vs. Colts (NO -5.5, 47.5)
9/27/98 Saints 19-13 OT at Colts (PK'em, 35.5)
11/12/95 Saints 17-14 vs. Colts (NO -1.5, 40)
12/24/89 Saints 41-6 vs. Colts (NO -2.5, 39.5)
10/12/86 Saints 17-14 at Colts (IND +4, 37.5)

NEXT WEEK'S NUMBERS POSTED

The Westgate opens its advance lines for the following week on Tuesdays and Week 16 currently has the Saints as a 1.5-point road favorite at the Titans. Believe it or not, the Colts are a 6.5-point home favorite with the slumping Panthers coming into town.

Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA


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