On Sunday Night Football this week, it will be a matchup of two teams with winning records and two division leaders. The Indianapolis Colts are 3-2 and in first place of the AFC South, and they will be hosting the New England Patriots, who are 4-0 and in first place of the AFC East.
If you have a game between two winning teams who are in first place in their respective divisions and who both were among the final four teams last year, it would logically seem to make sense that the predictions for that game would be somewhat split. Sure, there would probably be a consensus, but it wouldn't be anywhere near unanimous, right?
Not if we're talking about Colts vs. Patriots this Sunday. The Patriots are among the best teams in the NFL, while the Colts have struggled at times and benefited from playing in the worst division in football. The Patriots dominated the Colts in last year's AFC Championship game, and while during the offseason and entering the season many thought the Colts had the team to finally beat the Patriots, that doesn't seem to be the opinion anymore.
It seems like most people are picking the Patriots, but to get a better sense of just how overwhelming the picks for New England are, we took a look at a number of different predictions for this weekend's game - and nobody is really giving the Colts much of a chance.
All 13 people picking games for ESPN picked the Patriots, as well as the fans' pick 'em voting. NFL.com's Elliot Harrison picked the Patriots to win 34-21. Sports Illustrated's Don Banks picked New England in a 31-17 victory. All seven people who picked games for the USA Today picked the Patriots, with six of them labeling it as the "lock" of the week. Both Mike Florio and Michael David Smith of Pro Football talk picked the Patriots. FOX Sports' Peter Schrager also picked the Patriots to win, by a score of 38-20. All eight people picking for CBS Sports picked the Patriots. Stampede Blue's own Josh Wilson and Matt Grecco both picked the Patriots to win handily. And, finally, all seven analysts picking for SB Nation also picked the Patriots to win.
In other words, that's 42 different people who picked the game that we just looked at, and all 42 picked the Patriots. That's a lot. To have a sample size that large for a game between two teams with winning records, it's nearly unheard of for one team to be unanimous. But that's what the New England Patriots will be this Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts: the overwhelming, unanimous favorites. And, to be completely honest, that's not unfair either. Until the Colts prove they can play 60 minutes of good football against a very good team, and until they can prove that they can beat the Patriots, it's hard to fault anyone for picking New England this weekend.