INDIANAPOLIS (-12.0) 29 San Francisco 12
The 49ers have found some hope with the performance of Alex Smith last week against the Texans, as Smith came off the bench to revive a lackluster offense by racking up 21 second half points on 206 passing yards on 21 pass plays. Smith is certainly a better passer than Shaun Hill and gives the Niners' the threat of a pass attack, which should help the rushing attack, but one half of football against an unprepared Houston team is not enough evidence to suggest that Smith will be a good quarterback going forward. Smith had a decent year in 2006 before injuring his shoulder and he certainly looked like an overall #1 draft pick last week.
Having rookie WR Michael Crabtree finally in the lineup also helps the pass attack and Crabtree looked very good last week in catching 5 of 6 passes intended for him for 9.3 yards per attempt. Smith was 0.5 yards per pass play worse than average in 2006, his best season, but I'll assume he'll play at the league average level.
That still wouldn't be enough for the Niners to mount a consistent attack against a very good Colts' defense that has yielded just 4.5 yards per play to a schedule of teams that would average 5.2 yppl against an average team. Indy has been amazingly consistent on defense, allowing 4.9 yppl or less in all 6 of their games. My math model projects 4.4 yppl for San Francisco in this game if Smith is indeed an average quarterback, but there is a lot of variance in that projection given the fact that Smith could possibly be much better (or worse).
San Francisco will have to rely on their defense to stay close, but the Niners are just 0.3 yppl better than average on defense while the Colts have averaged 6.8 yppl this season (against teams that would allow 5.5 yppl to an average team).
My math model favors the Colts by 14 points and Indy applies to a very good 21-2-2 ATS subset of a 94-40-4 ATS situation. I like the Colts in this one and I'd consider Indianapolis a Strong Opinion at -11 or less and as a 2-Star Best Bet if the line goes back down to -10 or less. I also favor under 45 points.
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