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Against the Spread: 2011 NFL Picks: Week 4

Indianapolis Colts at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-10)

A double-digit line favoring a home team coming off a crazy win against a division rival? This one looks like trouble for the favorite.

Forgive me for not getting more psyched about the Buccaneers. I actually very much like the team, their quarterback and their coach, but I'm not getting roped in emotionally. The Bucs were one team last year where I constantly picked them wrong against the spread, and I'm already 0-2 with them this season after picking them against the Lions in Week 1 and picking against them in the Atlanta game last week.

This double-digit line is scary, though. The Bucs' three games this season have been decided by a touchdown or less, and 10 games last season were also decided by 7 points or fewer. Tampa Bay won only four games last season by double-digit margins against the Carolina Panthers, San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks. The Indianapolis Colts are really, really bad this year due to the loss of quarterback Peyton Manning, but it's hard to believe that the Bucs could beat the Colts by more than 10 points.

Sure, Indy got off to a terrible start on the road in Houston, allowing 34 points to a high-powered Texans offense while scoring only one touchdown on offense. Since then, the Colts haven't been all that terrible. They hung with a weaker-than-expected Browns team and nearly upset the heavily favored Steelers last week. Taking the Colts on the road isn't the best proposition, but then again, they're up against a team that really has trouble putting other teams away.

According to Vegas Insider, the Las Vegas Hilton opened with Tampa Bay as 9.5-point favorites late Sunday, and the line went up almost immediately to 10 points. Nearly every Vegas sports book now has the Bucs laying 10 points, and it doesn't look to be moving much.

PredictionMachine.com's Bessire is also unimpressed with the Buccaneers' average margin of victory. "That's the way this team plays. They have a conservative style and they don't blow anyone else out," he says. "Tampa's greatest strength is that they don't really have a big weakness. That's commendable, but they haven't been a double-digit favorite this year or last year. Indy is an 0-3 team, but the defense has talent, and the offense has enough talent to keep this close."

"I'm leaning with Indy," says Pregame.com's Leonard. "My only concern, going back to first-half numbers, is that the Colts have played two of three games at home and they're still being outscored by 12 points per game and out-yarded by more than 100 yards per game in the first half. I hate that this is a Monday night game. Indy looked good last week, but Pittsburgh was due for a letdown. Tampa Bay is playing at home on a Monday night to a national audience, so they could surprise us with something."

The Pick: Colts +10. I still can't believe my eyes: Indianapolis as double-digit underdogs. I don't believe Indianapolis has a good chance to win this game, but they should be able to keep it close. Tampa Bay wins this game, but it's closer to a 4-point victory than a 10-point one.
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