Week 15 of the NFL season comes to a close with a rematch of Super Bowl XLIV between the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts. Kickoff is set for 8:15 EST on Monday, December 16 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.
According to Week 15 NFL betting odds, the Saints are 9-point favorites at home. The over/under for the game is set at 46 points.
The Colts continue to see their season slip away. They were close to getting back on track last week against the Buccaneers, only to let a 14-point lead late in the third quarter slip away in a 38-35 loss. Indy has now lost five of their last six games, dropping them to 6-7 on the season. For what it’s worth, the Colts have lost four of those five games by four points or less. But that’s little solace with their playoff hopes dwindling.
Monday’s game could by Indy’s last stand. Earning a playoff spot at 8-8 seems unlikely, so the Colts probably have to win their final three games to have any chance of reaching the playoffs. The good news is that the Colts should be favored against the Panthers and Jaguars the final two weeks of the season. But this week’s trip to New Orleans is looking like a must-win game for the Colts.
As for the Saints, they’re hoping to bounce back from a crushing loss to the 49ers last week. New Orleans ended up on the wrong side of an endlessly entertaining game that was decided by a last-second field goal. The good news is that the Saints have already clinched the NFC South. They know they will be in the playoffs and hosting at least one postseason game no matter what happens the rest of the way.
Of course, the Saints would prefer to get a first-round bye and perhaps even earn home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs for the second straight year. Alas, the competition is fierce. New Orleans is one of three 10-3 teams trying to catch 11-2 San Francisco, who now owns the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Saints thanks to last week’s game. That puts a little pressure on New Orleans to win their remaining games, starting with Monday’s regular-season home finale against the Colts.
There’s no reason for the Saints to be deterred by last week’s loss, and the same is true for betters hoping to lean toward New Orleans. They’ve responded well to their losses this year. Plus, a 2-point loss to San Francisco isn’t exactly a red flag. Admittedly, I’d feel more comfortable if the spread was less than a touchdown. But I’ll still lay down the points and take New Orleans to win by double figures against a struggling Colts team.
The huge silver lining that the Saints can take from a 48-46 loss is that they scored 46 points against one of the best defensive teams in the NFL. Drew Brees was sensational against the 49ers, throwing for 349 yards and five touchdown passes. The most impressive part is that he wasn’t sacked at all by the fierce San Francisco pass rush. New Orleans still needs to get Alvin Kamara going, but they should be ecstatic about the way Brees and the passing game looked in that game.
The Colts now have the immense challenge of trying to slow down Brees and the New Orleans offense. The task is not all that different from trying to slow down Jameis Winston and the Bucs last week, something the Indianapolis defense failed to do. The only difference is that the Saints won’t be so loose with the football. Even with the Colts forcing four turnovers, the Tampa offense amassed over 500 yards of offense with almost all of it coming through the air. In other words, the Saints could pose a big problem for the Colts this week.
On the other side of the ball, the Saints also pose a similar challenge to the one the Colts faced last week against Tampa. Specifically, the Colts struggled to run the ball, managing just 66 yards on 22 carries against the top run defense in the NFL. While things should be a little easier this week, the New Orleans defense is also one of the best in the league at stuffing the run.
It’s vital that the Colts get Marlon Mack going to take the pressure off Jacoby Brissett and keep Brees off the field. If the Colts can’t run the ball, they stand little hope of Brissett matching Brees in a shootout, especially with T.Y. Hilton still questionable with an injury that’s limited him to just one game since late October.
All things considered, I don’t think the Colts have enough to keep up with the Saints on either side of the ball. New Orleans should be motivated after last week’s loss, and if the Saints are anywhere close to their best, they should win comfortably. I’ll admit that Indy’s desperation could work in their favor, but I’m still willing to lay down the points and lean toward the Saints to cover.