Sunday's portion of the NFL's Week 11 schedule features a pair of first-place teams going head-to-head. The Green Bay Packers (7-2) aim to win their third game in a row and extend their lead in the NFC North, while the Indianapolis Colts (6-3) can maintain at least a share of first place in the AFC South with a win.
Here is a preview for Sunday's matchup between the Packers and Colts in Indianapolis, along with a free pick. Indianapolis is maintaining their status as a 2.5-point favorite, which is what it opened the week as.
It was all too close for the Packers last week, as they barely edged the lowly Jaguars 24-20 at home. But a win is a win, and now this team that was one win away from a trip to the Super Bowl last season is contending for the top seed in the NFC and more.
Led by the elite trio of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, running back Aaron Jones, and wide receiver Davante Adams, Green Bay is averaging 30.8 points per game, the third-most in the NFL. Racking up 408 yards per game, the Packers have struck a balance between a good run and pass game, coming in well above average in both. Green Bay is also converting on third downs 48.2 percent of the time, better than all but two clubs.
Green Bay's defense has been decent, albeit a little average, averaging just under 25 points allowed per game. However, the Packers' 352 yards allowed is top 10 in the league, while they have also done been about equal against the run and pass. The Packers also have a solid 20 sacks as a team but just four interceptions.
Last Thursday night, the Colts took it to the division rival Titans, beating them 34-17 on the road and moving into a tie for first place. It was a good bounce-back for the Colts after losing by a pair of touchdowns at home against the Ravens the week prior.
With new pieces like veteran quarterback Philip Rivers and rookie running back Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis is averaging just a hair under 27 points per game, 14th in the NFL.
The Colts are fairly average in yards per game with 374 but do come within the top 10 of average passing yards per game thanks to Rivers. However, an inconsistent running game has led them to being the third-worst team on third downs, converting just 37.5 percent of the time.
However, the reason the Colts are 6-3 is a dominant defense that ranks as one of the best in football. Indianapolis is fourth with 19.7 points allowed while also giving up a league-low 306.7 yards per game. They are also within the top three both against the run and pass, and have the second-most interceptions with 11 along with 21 sacks.
It was 2016 when these teams last played, but the Colts are 3-1 straight up and ATS in their last four games against the Packers. They've also won four of their last five home games and 14 of their last 18.
Meanwhile, the Packers have won seven of their last nine road games but just four of their last eight road games against AFC opponents.
There are two elite units that will going up against each other on Sunday. The Packers offense and the Colts defense will feature talent all over the field, and chances are whichever is the better unit between the two during the game will get their team the win.
Can the Colts contain Jones like they contained Tennessee's Derrick Henry last Thursday? Will Rodgers and Adams continue their dynamic connection against a team that can create turnovers within its secondary? That is some of what to look out for.
This game will serve as a test for both teams. This is certainly the top defense Green Bay has gone up against so far, just like Indianapolis has not faced a quarterback and offense like Rodgers and the Packers. So expect a fun, competitive game with two teams we could very well see in the playoffs.
Ultimately, I like the value of the Packers here. Rodgers doesn't make a lot of mistakes, while Rivers has been very prone to an interception or two. It's those game-changing turnovers that could make all the difference.
While the Colts defense will hang, I think they'll fall just a tad short against Green Bay. Give me the Packers to win the game outright.
Pick: Packers +2.5