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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, December 5, 2015 at 3:00 PM

It’s not a playoff game…and it’s too early to call it a virtual playoff game. But, the facts are…it’s unlikely that BOTH the Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers will make the playoffs this season given how cramped the AFC picture is at the moment. So, the winner of Sunday night’s showdown is going to be in much better shape to survive the rumble…while the loser has a much tougher hill to climb.


AFC Wildcard Picture Entering Week 13

Pittsburgh 6-5

Indianapolis and Houston 6-5 (one will win the AFC South)

NY Jets 6-5

Kansas City 6-5

Buffalo 5-6

Oakland 5-6

Only two of those will win Wildcards, as New England, Cincinnati, and Denver are in great shape to take the AFC East, North, and West respectively. Maybe Pittsburgh wins a Wildcard while Indianapolis wins the AFC South. Hey…NBC may be showing a playoff preview this week! But…the loser falls to 6-6 within a hungry pack of wolves who can make a case that they’re definitely “Wildcard caliber” even if they aren’t championship caliber.

Let’s see what Jim Hurley’s key indicators stats are saying about this big TV game…and the likelihood that either team will be a factor in the AFC brackets chase come January.


Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)

Indianapolis: 6-5 (#19 ranked schedule according to Sagarin)

Pittsburgh: 6-5 (#7 ranked schedule according to Sagarin)

Pittsburgh has the same record against the superior schedule. So, that gives them the better shot. And, obviously, both teams are dealing with quarterback injuries. Whoever gets healthy first will have a chance to close strong. Legitimate Wildcard threats based on that data.



Indianapolis: 5.1 on offense, 5.7 on defense

Pittsburgh: 6.4 on offense, 5.7 on defense

There are a lot of good defenses in the NFL this season. Neither of these teams qualifies with a disappointing 5.7 mark per play. You saw that being an issue last week for the Steelers in Seattle. They couldn’t hold a lead even though their own offense was playing well. For now…neither is a serious threat to go deep in January because they can’t get stops. Pittsburgh has the significantly better offense this season…as that 6.4 to 5.1 advantage is coming against the tougher schedule. That differential for Indianapolis is AWFUL, and a counter-point to the prior category. They’re probably a bit lucky to be 6-5.


Turnover Differential

Indianapolis: -5

Pittsburgh: +1

Another strike against being a factor in January. Neither team shines in the very important risk/reward area. Pittsburgh’s barely above break even, while Indianapolis was dealing with serious turnover issues from Andrew Luck because he kept trying to force the issue. It’s not like that WON’T happen under intense pressure in the playoffs. Tough to gauge this Sunday’s game given the complexities of the current quarterback situation. Probably a slight edge to the hosts. And, another big strike against the Colts being a factor next month. They have the YPP and TO stats of a 5-11 or 4-12 type team!


Market Performance

Indianapolis: 6-5 ATS

Pittsburgh: 6-4-1 ATS (3-8 to the Under)

Even with their respective quarterback issues…both teams have managed to earn money for their backers. The market has slightly underrated each…which is pretty amazing considering how bad the Colts looked earlier this season. We also included Pittsburgh’s Over/Under mark because there’s a perception that they’re an Over team. They’re actually 3-8 to the Under…with two very high scoring recent games against Oakland and Seattle…but otherwise a 1-8 mark to the Under for the full season.


Current Line: Pittsburgh by 7, total of 49

See…a high total! Will this be another shootout like Steelers/Seahawks? Or, will both coaches be conservative with their quarterbacks this week because getting the victory is so vital? The exclusive TEAM HANDICAPPING approach of JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK is ideally suited for these kinds of money-making challenges. Our sources on site get the information…our computer programmers run simulations around the clock…and out pops a BIG, JUICY WINNER!

If Colts/Steelers qualifies as one of the BEST BETS of the day, clients will get it in plenty of time to take advantage. You can purchase the final word for all Sunday action on game day right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 before the early games begin. Be sure to ask about our postseason college football package when you call.

Back with you tomorrow in the NOTEBOOK to cover Monday Night Football. Here’s what’s on tap…

Monday: NFL TV Preview…Dallas at Washington

Midweek: NFL TV Preview…Minnesota at Arizona

Next Sunday: NFL TV Preview… New England at Houston

Coming Soon: Marquee Bowl Previews!

Washington will try to prove they’re an NFC Playoff team against their hated rivals. Then, a few nights later, both Minnesota and Arizona will try to prove they should be considered as NFC champions! And, NBC “flexed” into Patriots/Texans next week because that’s now such a big game after Houston’s recent surge. An intense focus on the NFL before the bowls resume.

Rest assured that all through December and January football, you’re going to GET THE MONEY with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!


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Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley

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