Clash of the Titans: New England vs. Indianapolis

What a game! Is it Sunday yet? Indianapolis is undefeated and so is New England. Peyton Manning was last year's MVP and Tom Brady is on route to break the record for the most TD in one season. Although the Colts are playing at home, Vegas is giving a 5-point (Bodog has the spread at -6) advantage to the visiting team. In this post we'll explore some stats and predictions to see if this spread is justifiable.

First, we start with the history when these two teams have faced each other. The graph below shows all the games since 2001 when these teams have battled it out. At the far right we see last year's AFC conference championship. The positive green bar shows that Indianapolis was favorite by 3 games and as we all know they went to beat the Patriots by a score of 38-34 and covering the spread by 1 point (hence the small positive red bar). In 2006, New England was favorite by four points but again the Colts covered and as you can see from the red bar, by 10 points. It wasn't until 1/16/2005 (Divisional Playoffs in 2004) that New England covered easily by more than 16 points (actual score was 20-3).


Let's look at this year's stats:

The graph below shows the average yardage against opponents in the past 5 games. Tom Brady's excellence shows that they have passed more than 100 yards per game while Indianapolis 'only' 80 yards. Indianapolis' rushing yardage looks slightly better than New England (this could be key in Sunday's game).


As far as who does my statistical model predicts. I have to say it does not know. The statistical problem here is that these two teams are the 'extremes' and so regression pulls it back to the 'mean'. It has both teams squarely even but again this is not a reliable prediction. I would say that this game is highly volatile. New England has been playing their best ever (now without taping other teams' signals) and the Colts are as good as last year. I wouldn't bet on this game but if would, I would go with my instinct.

I do have week 9 picks that the model is predicting with great confidence, but I'll leave those to my next blog.