(Can the Colts' Curtis Painter improve on his career passer rating of 23.8?)
The Colts are a team in crisis without their talisman Peyton Manning, a player who is rated one of the greatest ever & his reputation is only rising now that he isn't playing as this team is pretty poor without him, struggling to execute plays & put points on the board. Now Indianapolis have their backup QB, the veteran Kerry Collins out with concussion symptoms & are having to bring in 26 year old Curtis Painter who has taken part in a total of 3 NFL games & has thrown 2 interceptions & no touchdowns. That hardly inspires confidence & rightly so, Painter basically looks very poor & we don't expect any fairytales in this one especially as the Colts don't even have a decent rush offense with lead rusher Joseph Addai being average & somewhat fragile. A positive on offense is that they still have great receivers in Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie, Pierre Garcon & a super tight end in Dallas Clark - of course they haven't looked so great without the superhuman Payton Manning to pass to them.....
Whilst the Colts are having a nightmare season having lost all 3 games so far the Buccaneers are progressing nicely having lost their opening day fixture to the still undefeated Lions but then having beaten the Vikings & then the very decent Atlanta Falcons in last week's game. They have the imposing Josh Freeman at quarterback (we at Like Buying Money are big Freeman fans), & now that he's into his 3rd season he is starting to make better & better decisions in addition to having a monster arm. Freeman doesn't have the greatest set of receivers to work with but he has plenty of targets that are reasonable meaning defenses can't concentrate on covering one player. Tight end Kellen Winslow & wide receiver Preston Parker are capable of big plays & he has gone to running back Earnest Graham 20 times through the air this season mostly with plays under the coverage. Running back LeGarrette Blount has averaged 4 yards a carry which is reasonable but Freeman himself offers a potent running threat being very mobile for a big man & has 77 rushing yards on the season. The Colts defense are good with defensive ends Wight Freney & Robert Mathis being scarily effective when coming after the quarterback, getting sacks, hits & tipped passes with regularity, however they are likely to be on the field for long periods as the offense should keep giving the ball straight back to the Buccaneers meaning their defense will tire. We think the Colts could keep the scoring low early on but the young & enthusiastic Buccaneers can come through powerfully at the end & win by more than two scores to cover the -10 point spread. Knowing that Josh Freeman isn't afraid to run with the ball if he sees an opportunity we think the 25/1 that Coral offer for him to be first touchdown scorer is a shade big & he can also be backed to score anytime at 4/1, we'll be hoping for a quarterback sneak to be called on a short yardage situation.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers to beat the Indianopolis Colts with -10 points on the handicap at 10/11 (general)
Josh Freeman to score 1st touchdown at 25/1 & score anytime touchdown at 4/1 (Coral)