The Indianapolis Colts have gone an undefeated 12-0 against AFC South opponents over the last two seasons. But can the Colts make that big jump and maybe make it to the Super Bowl this season?
Let’s look at who Indianapolis picked up, drafted, some tough games on the schedule, some powerful recent relevant betting trends, and then make some picks against both Bad and Good teams this Regular Season that almost look too good to be true. Let’s do it.
Colts Have a Big Vice Grip on Their Own Division and a Stud QB for the Next Decade
The Indianapolis Colts (10/1 to win Super Bowl, bet365) will probably Pass more, score more and have more Total Yards than any other team in the NFL this season, and it won’t be because they play in the AFC South with two of the league’s worst teams—the Tennessee Titans (2-14) and the Jacksonville Jaguars (3-13)—but because they have this kid (25 years old) named Andrew Luck (96.5 QBR, 4,761 yards, 40 TDs) at QB and they have the speediest roster around. It’s that simple. The Colts (11-5 SU in 2014) and General Manager Ryan Grigson have been one of the more aggressive teams in the Offseason so far, signing Free Agents RB Frank Gore (49ers), WR Andre Johnson (Texans), DE Trent Cole (Eagles) and DE Kendall Langford (Rams) and re-signing backup QB Matt Hasselbeck. And, for a brief while, the Colts became Super Bowl favorites at the MGM Sportsbook here in Las Vegas at 5/1 odds. But making that big step from one of the NFL’s best teams to the Elite status—where the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos have been over the past couple of seasons—is incredibly hard, but it does seem like this is that season Indianapolis (-300 to win AFC South, Sky Bet) should make that jump. The time is right.
One modern facet of the game the Colts (9-3 vs AFC) excel at is in using their talented TEs—Dwayne Allen (29 receptions, 395 yards, 8 TDs) and Lemont, Illinois native Coby Fleener (51 receptions, 774 yards, 8 TDs)—in all sorts of situations, so beloved Head Coach Chuck Pagano (11-1-1 ATS off ATS Loss, 12-1 SU) and Offensive Coordinator Pep Hamilton deserve credit for developing that oft-unheralded Naptown Dynamic Duo. The Colts (5/1 to win AFC, bet365) enjoy a decent Homefield advantage in their retractable Lucas Oil Stadium (6-2 in 2014) in the capital city of the Hoosier State, and Indianapolis has been really kind to its betting backers over the L3 NFL seasons, going a combined 33-19-2 ATS (12-6-1 in 2014, 11-7 in 2013 and 10-6-1 in 2012). Two areas that Indianapolis needs to improve on are its Defense, as their 369 Points Allowed was the second-most of any division winner last season (Carolina allowed 374 points), and in the crucial Takeaway-Giveaway numbers where the Horseshoes Turnover Differential was a lousy -5 in 2014 (26 takeaways + 31 Giveaways =). And the Colts need to be wary of the up-and-coming Texans (20/1 to win AFC, William Hill)—who spend all Offseason figuring out how they can try to beat this Indianapolis team—although Houston did lose legendary WR Andre Johnson to the Colts, in-division, so that has to sting at least a little bit. Week 5 at NRG Stadium in Houston when Indianapolis comes to town will be the Texans (9-7 SU in 2014) biggest game of the Regular Season (Colts -2, NFL Games of the Year, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) while Indianapolis has a couple of much bigger games on its schedule than the Week 15 return leg with Houston in Naptown.
The Colts and resilient Stanford graduate Luck—a mind-boggling 14-1 SU and ATS off a Colts Loss—enjoy a relatively easy Regular Season schedule this season though, with a Week 6 meeting with the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots (Colts -3, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, NFL Games of the Year) and a Week 9 date with Old Uncle Peyton (Manning) and the Denver Broncos (Colts -3, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, NFL Games of the Year), both in Indianapolis, being the two marquee games for the Colts and must-see games for the fans. Also, Road games at the Buffalo Bills in Week 1 (Colts -2, Total: 47, Pinnacle) and against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 13 are fun ones, but expect Indianapolis (+180 to reach AFC Championship Game, 5Dimes) to roll to another AFC South title although Houston will possibly beat the Colts in one of their two meetings this season, quite possibly in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium in what could be a critical Week 15 game for the Texans.
Indianapolis Colts QB Depth: Andrew Luck—Matt Hasselbeck—Bryan Bennett
Who’s New and Could Have an Impact? Free Agent RB Frank Gore (49ers), Free Agent WR Andre Johnson (Texans), Free Agent DE Trent Cole (Eagles), Free Agent DE Kendall Langford (Rams), Rookie Slotback Phillip Dorsett (Miami-Florida), Rookie CB D’Joun Smith (Florida Atlantic), Rookie DE Henry Anderson (Stanford), Rookie SS Clayton Geathers (UCF), Rookie NT David Perry (Stanford), Rookie RB Josh Robinson (Mississippi State), Rookie ILB Amarlo Herrera (Georgia), Rookie OT Denzell Goode (Mars Hill)
Who’s Gone From the Roster? WR Reggie Wayne (Released), RB Trent Richardson (Raiders), RB Michael Hill (Redskins), KR-PR Josh Cribbs (Browns), LB Shaun Phillips (Released), DE Ricky Jean-Francois (Redskins), S LaRon Landry (Released)
Possible Losses on Schedule: Week 1 NFL Picks: @ Bills; Week 5: @ Texans; Week 6: Patriots; Week 7: Saints; Week 8: @ Panthers; Week 9: Broncos; Week 13: @ Steelers; Week 15: Texans; Week 16 @ Dolphins
Some Good Potential Betting Spots in Regular Season: There are a bunch of them here. First off, against the Rats of the AFC South, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis is 5-0 ATS L5 and 6-0-1 ATS L7 respectively so banging Indianapolis in all 4 of those meetings is suggested. And get it early in the week, as those likely double-digit lines will only go up from Tuesday to kickoff on Sunday. Also, with the Colts 11-3 ATS in the L14 games vs. the Broncos and 7-1 ATS in the L8 at Home at Lucas Oil Stadium versus Denver, backing Indianapolis in Week 9 when they meet is recommended (Colts -3, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, NFL Games of the Year). And, in Week 5 at NRG Stadium in Houston (Colts -2, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook NFL Games of the Year), taking the Colts and laying the 2 points seems wise with Indianapolis 5-1-1 ATS L7 against Houston.
Any Good Colts Futures Bets Now? If you think this Colts team can win the Super Bowl, then the 10/1 now around is probably as high as you will see those odds go until maybe October. For fun, an Indianapolis Colts-Green Bay Packers Super Bowl currently would pay +2375 (5Dimes) should Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers somehow meet at the new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California on February 7. Betting the Colts to win the AFC (5/1, bet365) just doesn’t seem to carry the value it should and getting over the Patriots, let alone the Ravens, Steelers and maybe the Broncos, Bills or Chiefs seems worth more of a payback should Indianapolis make it to Super Bowl 50. Winning the AFC South (-300, Sky Bet) is probably a sure-thing, but who wants to lay out $300 for 6 months to make $100? Dudes with a lotta money, that’s who. And, the Colts Regular Season Team Win Total for the Colts has been bet up (10½ Over -170, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) so much already on hype of who they signed early in the Free Agent period, that there is little value to be had now, even with the seemingly innocuous schedule. In short, any Colts Futures Book money should have already been bet in March or April, and that money would probably better be bet in the Regular Season in presumed blowouts over the inept Titans (3-12-1 ATS in 2014) and constantly rebuilding Jaguars (6-9-1 ATS).
Recent Relevant Trends: Colts 6-0-1 ATS L7 vs Titans; Colts 5-0 ATS L5, 3-0 ATS vs. Jaguars, L3 Away at Jacksonville; Colts 5-1-1 ATS L7 vs Texans, 4-0-1 ATS L5 at Home in Indianapolis; Colts 5-2-1 ATS L8 vs Bills but 1-14-1 L19 Away in Buffalo; Colts 11-3 ATS L14 vs Broncos, 7-1 ATS L8 at Home vs Denver; Colts 2-6 ATS L8 vs Jets; Colts 0-3 ATS L3 vs Patriots, 0-3 ATS L3 at Home vs New England; Colts 2-6 ATS L8 vs Saints; Colts 1-4 ATS L5 vs Panthers
Players to Watch: QB Andrew Luck, WR TY Hilton (4.34 40-yard Dash), Rookie Slotback Phillip Dorsett (Miami-Florida, 4.33 40-yard Dash), WR Donte Moncrief (4.40 40-yard Dash), K Adam Vinatieri, TE Coby Fleener, TE Dwayne Allen, CB Vontae Davis, Free Agent RB Frank Gore (49ers), Free Agent WR Andre Johnson (Texans), Free Agent DE Trent Cole (Eagles), Free Agent DE Kendall Langford (Rams), Rookie CB D’Joun Smith (Florida Atlantic), Rookie DE Henry Anderson (Stanford), Rookie SS Clayton Geathers (UCF), Rookie NT David Perry (Stanford), Rookie RB Josh Robinson (Mississippi State)
Bet Against Indianapolis Colts in Regular Season: Week 6—New England Patriots +3 over Colts in Indianapolis; Week 8—Carolina Panthers over Colts (Panthers +2 over Colts in Charlotte) (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, NFL Games of the Year)
Bet On Indianapolis Colts in Regular Season: Week 5—on Road vs Houston Texans (Colts -2, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, NFL Games of the Year); Colts 5-1-1 ATS L7 vs Texans; Week 9—at Home vs Denver Broncos (Colts -3, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, NFL Games of the Year); Colts 6-1 ATS L7 Home vs Broncos, 11-3 ATS L14 overall vs Denver
Indianapolis Colts Proposition Futures Bet: Indianapolis Colts +180 to Reach AFC Championship Game (5Dimes).