For months, the week six game between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday Night Football from Lucas Oil Stadium was circled on calendars and heavily anticipated. The storylines are many: a rematch of the AFC Championship game. A chance to end an embarrassing losing streak against the Patriots for Indianapolis. A measuring stick for the Colts. A Deflategate revenge game for the Patriots. And then, for a moment, it was even going to be Reggie Wayne's return to Indianapolis (but Wayne asked for and was granted his release from the Patriots). It was going to be a marquee mid-season matchup between two legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
As we are now officially in Colts vs. Patriots week, that's not exactly what this matchup is. There's certainly one legitimate Super Bowl contender that will be playing this Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, but it's not the Colts. The Patriots are 4-0, are the clear-cut favorite to win the AFC (though the Bengals and Broncos might have something to say about that) and their quarterback, Tom Brady, is the clear-cut favorite to win the MVP award. The Colts? They're 3-2 and have a two-game lead in their division, but they haven't looked good doing it. They should make the playoffs, but they have work to do before becoming the legitimate Super Bowl contender we thought they could be. And their quarterback? Andrew Luck has been dealing with an injured shoulder that has caused him to miss the first two games of his career and has put his status for this Sunday's game in question.
So, as it is, this Sunday's game no longer feels like an evenly-matched game between two powerhouses. Instead, it feels as if it will take a whole lot of Luck for the Colts to even come close against a Patriots team that will surely be looking for revenge against the team that, rightly or wrongly, they think was out to get them in the AFC Championship game.
The oddsmakers for the game are reflecting all of that, as the Patriots are eight-point favorites against the Colts on Sunday night, according to odds monitored by OddsShark.com. The Patriots opened as seven-point favorites, but that number has risen. The odds have fluctuated some, but the one thing that has remained a constant is this: the Patriots are favored big against the Colts. Considering that the game is a home one for a Colts team that began the season with very high expectations, it would have been hard to imagine them being big underdogs in this game, but that's the reality - and honestly, it's hard to argue with.
The Colts face four undefeated teams over their next five games, so this would be a nice time for the team to start playing well and playing their best football. And what better time for that to start than this Sunday against the Patriots? If Andrew Luck is back and playing well, the Colts might be able to keep this one a close game entering the fourth quarter, and from there, who knows? It's not likely based on what we've seen, but the Colts are going to need to start playing well - and fast - because of their schedule over the next month. This weekend would be an ideal time for that to happen, though the Colts are big underdogs at home against the 4-0 Patriots.