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NFL Bargain Bets: Week 12
November 19th 2008
by Old Man Winner

Indianapolis Colts (+3) at San Diego Chargers 

Every week I handicap the games prior to looking at the line that the pros set. This is my first indication of where I might find my bargain bet of the week. On average I am within about 1.5 pts per game off where the spreads get set. I have been doing this for years and have learned how Vegas typically looks at games. Every week there are usually one or two games that surprise me. This week when I set the line for this game I had Indy -3. I was shocked when I saw that the line was 3, but San Diego was favored.

When I break down games, I start by asking myself, "how is each team going to scheme offensively to move the ball". I look at a team's offensive ranks both running and passing the ball vs. the opposing team's rank on defending the rush and pass. There are games every week that just seem to "set up well" for one team. Here is what I mean by "set up well". How is Indy going to try and attack the Chargers? Well, since Indy is dead last in the league in rushing and #6 in passing, it sure looks like their preference would be to throw the ball. How does that stack up to the SD defense. Well, SD is average against the run (#14), but are dead last in the league in defending the pass. Guess what Indy is going to do? Right. Throw the ball about 2/3 of the time, or about 50 times. And, as if that is not enough, SD's pass defense has been even worse against the pass in the last three games than their abysmal yearly avg. and Indy's passing has been better in the last three games than their yearly avg.

On the other side of the ball, how would we expect SD to move the ball. Well, SD's rushing attack is currently ranked 27th in the league vs. Indy's rush defense which is ranked 25th. We'll call that a wash. SD should be able to move the ball on the ground, but not rack up huge yards. With respect to the pass, SD ranks 7th in the league and Indy ranks 9th against the pass.

So, when I say this game "sets up well" for the Colts, I mean that their preference for attacking (passing) looks extremely favorable against a porous SD pass defense and, on the flip side, what the Chargers like to do offensively (pass) is what the Colts are better at defending.

One last point, The Colts are in their playoff drive mode. They started out the year injury plagued, but are getting healthier and playing better as the season goes on. The Chargers still look to be struggling to find their defensive identity without Shawne Merriman. They can't run the ball and have had a hard time stopping any team from passing against them. I expect SD to focus on trying to stop Indy's outside receivers, thus leaving the middle of the field open for Anthony Gonzales and Dallas Clark.

Watch to see if Safety Bob Sanders plays for the Colts. He is questionable. If he plays this strengthens the Colts defense even more. However, even if he doesn't play, the Colts should simply have too much offense on a good weather day in San Diego.

Indy 33 SD 27

Bargain Bets 2008 Record:  7-3-1

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