The Indianapolis Colts are the hottest team in the NFL, having won seven of eight games. They are fighting for a playoff spot as an AFC wild-card team, but the team's 1-5 start may prevent them from playing postseason football.
However, if they do get into the playoffs, they may be the team that nobody wants to play.
The Colts are playing their best football. They beat the Houston Texans 24-21 in Week 14, and that win ended the Texans' nine-game winning streak. They followed that victory with a 23-0 shutout of the Dallas Cowboys, a team that had won five games in a row and had moved into first place in the NFC East.
Indianapolis hosts the New York Giants on Sunday, and after beating the Texans and Cowboys, this appears to be a much easier assignment.
Head coach Frank Reich's team is getting better every week and is facing nearly every challenge successfully.
The big reason for the Colts' success is quarterback Andrew Luck's ability to lead the offense. After missing all of 2017 with a shoulder injury, Luck has completed 375 of 557 passes for 3,951 yards, 34 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
He has a couple of top receivers in wideout T.Y. Hilton and tight end Eric Ebron. Hilton has caught 67 passes for 1,071 yards and six touchdowns, while Ebron has caught 59 passes for 662 yards and a career-best 12 touchdowns.
Indianapolis has had some dominating efforts on defense, allowing just 15 points per game in its past eight games. Rookie linebacker Darius Leonard has been having a sensational season, leading the team with 146 tackles, 7.0 sacks, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
The Giants will try to counter with quarterback Eli Manning and running back Saquon Barkely, but it's unlikely wideout Odell Beckham Jr. (quadriceps) will play. He has missed the past two games and was not involved in Wednesday's practice.
The Colts are nine-point favorites, per OddsShark, and there's little reason to believe the Giants can keep this game close. If Beckham does not play, Indianapolis can concentrate on stopping Barkley and have little else to worry about since Manning has a difficult time getting away from the pass rush.
Reich's team should have firm control by halftime and push the lead further in the second half. The Colts will get the win and cover the point spread.
Week 16 Point Spreads and Predictions
Information provided by OddsShark.
Saturday, December 22
Washington at Tennessee (-10); Tennessee 28, Washington 17
Baltimore at L.A. Chargers (-4.5); L.A. Chargers 24, Baltimore 14
Sunday, December 23
Tampa Bay at Dallas (-7); Dallas 33, Tampa Bay 17
N.Y. Giants at Indianapolis (-9); Indianapolis 28, N.Y. Giants 3
Houston at Philadelphia (-2.5); Philadelphia 24, Houston 21
Jacksonville at Miami (-4); Miami 24, Jacksonville 23
Green Bay (-3) at N.Y. Jets; N.Y. Jets 23, Green Bay 17
Cincinnati at Cleveland (-9); Cleveland 33, Cincinnati 20
Minnesota (-5.5) at Detroit; Minnesota 27, Detroit 13
Buffalo at New England (-13); New England 31, Buffalo 17
Atlanta (-3.5) at Carolina; Atlanta 24, Carolina 17
Chicago (-4) at San Francisco; Chicago 17, San Francisco 14
L.A. Rams (-14) at Arizona; L.A. Rams 30, Arizona 10
Pittsburgh at New Orleans (-5.5); New Orleans 33, Pittsburgh 23
Kansas City (-2.5) at Seattle; Kansas City 28, Seattle 24
Monday, December 24
Denver (-2.5) at Oakland; Denver 17, Oakland 13
Houston Texans at Philadelphia Eagles
There are major developments with both teams, and they are both moving in positive directions.
The Houston Texans will clinch the AFC South with one more victory, but more importantly, they can earn the No. 2 seed in their conference by winning out since they have a one-game lead over the New England Patriots.
Houston is 10-1 in their past 11 games, and there's no reason to think the Texans are going to start to slump—other than the team's history of coming up flat every time it has faced a big game.
But that has not been the case this year, and with Deshaun Watson (24 touchdown passes, 67.7 percent completions) coming into his own and wideout DeAndre Hopkins' (1,321 receiving yards and 11 TDs) unstoppable characteristic to his game, the Texans are going to play well.
The Philadelphia Eagles have had a painful season because the defending Super Bowl champions have not played up to that level this season, and quarterback Carson Wentz is injured and has ceded his place in the lineup to Nick Foles.
That's the same formula the Eagles had to use during their postseason run a year ago, and Foles led them to the first Super Bowl championship in team history. The Eagles are coming off an impressive 30-23 road victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
The Eagles were huge double-digit road underdogs in that game and showed more continuity than they previously had at any point this season. Foles completed 24 of 31 passes for 270 yards, while Wendell Smallwood ran for two touchdowns.
Foles seems to have an excellent working relationship with wideout Alshon Jeffery, who caught all eight targets for 160 yards against Los Angeles.
The linemakers have determined that the Eagles are 2.5-point favorites over the Texans. Look for the Super Bowl champions to win by a field goal as they desperately fight for a spot in the playoffs.
We look at the game between the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots for our prop bet.
The Patriots will be trying to break a two-game losing streak as they attempt to clinch the AFC East once again. While they have failed in their two previous attempts, they return home to play a divisional rival they have dominated over the years.
Our prop bet involves the team that will score the first touchdown in the game. Oddschecker shows that bookmakers list the Patriots as prohibitive 2-5 favorites, while the Bills are 8-5 underdogs. Bettors wagering on the Patriots must risk $100 to win $40, while Bills backers will have to risk $100 to win $160.
We will take the Bills. While there is little chance they will upset the Patriots, quarterback Josh Allen may break free with his legs or hit rookie wideout Robert Foster with an early touchdown pass.
The return on New England is not tempting, while Buffalo may have a puncher's chance. Swallow hard and take the Bills to score first.