One of the highlights of the Week 15 NFL schedule is an inter-conference showdown between the Indianapolis Colts and Dallas Cowboys. Kickoff is set for 1:00 EST on Sunday, December 16, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Fans in large sections of the country will be able to watch the game on Fox.
The current betting odds have the Colts favored by 2.5 points. That line has come down some after Indy opened as 3-point favorites. The over/under is set at 47 points. Click here to check out all of this week’s NFL betting odds as well as game previews.
Despite a modest 7-6 record, the Colts are one of the hottest teams in football. They bounced back from a puzzling 6-0 loss to Jacksonville a couple of weeks ago with a massive road win against the Texans last week. Indy has now won six of their last seven games, putting them in a good position to reach the playoffs. Of course, that still figures to be a complicated process. The Colts are currently in a four-way tie for the final wild-card spot in the AFC. They may have to win out and get a little help in order to win that spot.
This week’s game against the Cowboys is by far the toughest game left on their schedule. The Colts will also host the Giants and play away against Tennessee, a team they beat soundly a month ago. With a win against Dallas on Sunday, Indy’s chances of earning a wild-card spot will increase substantially.
Of course, the Cowboys are also one of the hottest teams in the league. Dallas has rattled off five straight wins to move to 8-5, giving them a two-game cushion atop the NFC East. For what it’s worth, only one of those five wins has come against a team with a winning record, although that one team was the Saints. In any event, a win coupled with a Washington loss this week would be enough for the Cowboys to lock up the NFC East crown.
Much like the Colts, this week’s game will be the toughest the Cowboys have the rest of the season. Dallas closes out the regular season with a home game against the Bucs and a road game against the Giants. If the Cowboys can survive their trip to Indianapolis, there’s a reasonable chance that they’ll head into the playoffs on an 8-game winning streak, which would have sounded unfathomable a little over a month ago when Dallas was 3-5.
Something has to give with both of these teams playing great football right now. But I think the Colts match up well against Dallas. Also, Indianapolis is the home team and the team that needs this game a little more. With the spread under a field goal, I like the Colts to win and cover.
Admittedly, Dak Prescott has been a completely different quarterback since Amari Cooper arrived in Dallas. The Cowboys actually have a viable passing game and a downfield threat. It also helps that Ezekiel Elliott remains one of the most feared running backs in the league, forcing opposing defenses to stay honest.
That being said, the Colts should be well-equipped to keep the Dallas offense contained. The Indianapolis defense is one of the best in the NFL against the run, giving up just 3.8 yards per carry. A week ago, they were able to stuff Houston’s running game, allowing them to put all kinds of pressure on Deshaun Watson, sacking him five times.
Containing Elliott and forcing Prescott to win with his arm could be an effective game plan against the Cowboys. Prescott has thrown the ball well in recent weeks because he wants to, not because he has to. Being forced to throw is where Prescott could get into trouble. Keep in mind that he threw two interceptions and lost a fumble last week against the Eagles.
On the other side of the ball, the Cowboys will have their hands full with Andrew Luck. That shutout loss against the Jaguars a couple of weeks ago appears to be an aberration. Luck picked apart Houston’s defense last week, throwing for 399 yards. Aside from the occasional turnover, he’s once again one of the premier quarterbacks in the NFL.
To be fair, the Dallas defense is just a couple of weeks removed from completely shutting down Drew Brees and the Saints. However, that game was at home, and this week the Cowboys will go on the road for the first time in a month. The Dallas defense also had a world of problems against Philadelphia’s tight ends last week, a weakness the Colts may be able to expose given the chemistry between Luck and Eric Ebron this season.
The key for Dallas is to put pressure on Luck. If he has time in the pocket, Luck should have no trouble dissecting the Dallas secondary. When the Colts won five straight earlier this year, Luck was barely touched. That hasn’t been the case the past couple of weeks, as the Colts have conceded six sacks in two games. However, they held up well against Houston’s ferocious pass rush last week, and as long as Luck stays upright, they should be in good shape.
To be honest, this game could go either way. However, with the Colts being at home, I’m fine putting my trust in Luck and company. The Cowboys are good, but they still have some flaws that I think Indy can expose. I’ll take my chances with the Colts being able to cover the 2.5-point spread.