We are willing to bet that the Broncos, with homefield advantage as the AFC’s No. 2 seed & future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, should find a way to cover the 7-point spread against the Colts.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Denver Broncos: Odds Overview and Weather
(Broncos -7, 54, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook), Sunday 21:40 (CBS, 4:40 p.m. ET/1:40 p.m. PT):
It’s the Old Man versus his Old Team, the same way the regular season started off for both of these teams—the Indianapolis Colts (11-5 SU, 10-5-1 ATS) and the Denver Broncos (12-4 SU, 8-8 ATS)—at the same location, Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium in Denver where Peyton Manning will try to beat his old mates from the Hoosier State and send a message that he’s not as old as he looked in the month December.
NFL odds makers have made Manning’s Broncos solid 7-point favorites with the Total Points set at 54 almost everywhere, the highest Total of the weekend. The Money Line (Winner) odds have the Broncos -285 favorites with the Colts priced at +252 (Pinnacle). The Broncos Total Team Points has been set at 30 (BetVictor) with the Colts Total Team Points being set at 22½ (Bwin).
Some random prop wagers: Team To Score First: Broncos -167, Colts +125 (Skybet); First Half: Broncos -4½ (Paddy Power); and, First Half Total 26½ (Over -125, Under -110, Paddy Power). And, updated odds these two AFC heavies to win Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on February 1: Broncos (6/1) and Colts (16/1, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook).
The Weather Channel’s forecast for Denver five days out (Tuesday) from Sunday calls for Partly to Mostly Cloudy conditions with a High temperature of 41° and Winds N at 5 to 10 mph. So, pretty nice weather for The Mile High City in January although 41° may seem a tad bit chilly to some of the Indianapolis players used to playing in a dome.
Indianapolis and QB Andrew Luck (14-12 ATS Road) have impressed to a point this season but it’s always important to remember to take head coach Chuck Pagano’s (23-15-1 ATS) team with a grain of salt considering the Horseshoes have beat up on the three weak sisters of the AFC South—the Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans—going 6-0 both SU and ATS against them combined this season. So, that makes the Colts 5-5 SU and 4-5-1 ATS in their 10 games against non-AFC South teams. When these two teams met in Week 1 here in Denver, the Broncos won 31-24 but barely failed to cover the spread as 8-point favorites while the game trickled Over the posted Total of 53.
With the prolific Luck (380 completions, 4,761 yards, 40 TDs)—whom Indianapolis let Peyton Manning go for knowing the highly-touted Stanford QB was coming up in the NFL Draft—the Colts are evolving into a pretty much a Pass As Much As Possible team, and their #1 Pass (305.9 ypg) ranking in the NFL is no surprise. Speedy WR TY Hilton (82 receptions, 1,245 yards,73 TDs, 16.4 ypc; +105 Anytime TD Scorer, bet365), club legend Reggie Wayne (64 receptions, 770 yards, 2 TDs; +175), TE Dwayne Allen (29 receptions, 395 yards, 8 TDs; +175) and TE Coby Fleener (51 receptions, 774 yards, 8 TDs; +175) are Luck’s favorite targets but even guys like WR Hakeem Nicks (+275), WR Donte Moncrief (+190), RB Trent Richardson (159 rushes, 519 yards, 3 TDs), RB Dan Herron (+114) and injured RB Ahmad Bradshaw all have over 20 catches for this near-Arena football team.
On defense, Indianapolis (6-1 SU L7) is in the middle of the pack, ranking #12 against the Pass, allowing an average of 220.3 yards per game and #18 versus the Rush, giving up an average of 113.4 yards a game on the ground a game, so Denver should be able to rack up some points on their home soil with a week’s rest, a familiar opponent, plenty of talented skill position players and that incredibly valuable homefield advantage.
The Colts (5-2 SU L7 Road) will be without some valuable guys who have been on the Injured Reserve list for the bulk of the season including the aforementioned Bradshaw (ankle), T Xavier Nixon (knee), G Donald Thomas (quadricep) and OLB Robert Mathis (Achilles) but Indianapolis has been without all of these players and many more this year and the Colts have simply filled the necessary roster spots and adjusted to life without them. The big question for Indianapolis is can they win outside of the AFC South in a big game situation and this date with Denver will definitely provide an immediate answer to that question.
AFC No 2-seed Denver’s (5-0 SU L5 Home) QB extraordinaire Peyton Manning (395 completions, 4,761 yards, 39 TDs) looks like he may be starting to show his age, but hearing that criticism and given a week’s added rest and the homefield advantage for this game against his former teammates, expect the 38-year-old University of Tennessee graduate to come out to try to prove a point in front of the home crowd. The Broncos rank #4 in passing (291.3 ypg) and Manning (72-67-2 ATS Home) has as many talented targets as does Luck with an edge at the WR position with Demaryius Thomas (111 receptions, 1,619 yards, 11 TDs; -187 Anytime TD Scorer, bet365), Emmanuel Sanders (101 receptions, 1,404 yards, 9 TDs; -120) and veteran Wes Welker (49 receptions, 464 yards, 2 TDs; +162). TE Julius Thomas (43 receptions, 489 yards, 12 TDs) is a great red zone guy while RBs CJ Anderson (179 rushes, 849 yards, 8 TDs; -142) and Ronnie Hillman (106 rushes, 434 yards, 4 TDs; +137) give the Broncos some nice balance on offense with the #15 Rushing attack (111.6 ypg) in the league...enough to open up the passing game for Uncle Peyton.
Denver (6-3 L9 SU vs. Colts at Home) has really improved on defense—thanks to guys like LB Brandon Marshall (113 tackles) and CB Aqib Talib (4 INTs)—and that’s another reason why laying the 7 points here doesn’t hurt as much with the Broncos ranked #9 against the pass (225.4 ypg) and a stellar #2 against the Rush (79.8 ypg). As if Luck and the Colts weren’t going to throw in this high-profile game to send the winner to the AFC Championship enough already...
On the injury front, the Broncos (5-1 SU L6) do have a number of players listed as Questionable for Sunday’s game, including star LB Marshall (foot), G Orlando Franklin (concussion), T Paul Cornick (toe), S TJ Ward (neck), S David Burton (concussion) and RB Juwan Thompson (hip) while DT Mitch Unrein (illness) was listed as Probable on Tuesday for head coach John Fox’s (38-20-2 ATS) team which lost to the Seattle Seahawks in last year’s Super Bowl and will be intent on getting back to try to avenge that loss. But expect most of these guys to be ready for this game. The Denver Post reported on Monday that both Marshall and Ward would be available on Sunday.
Best Betting Approaches and Trends
The Colts hold the strong trends edge in this series recently, going an impressive 7-0 ATS and 6-1 SU L7 vs. the Broncos and 4-1 ATS in the L5 here in Denver, thanks to that narrow Week 1 cover to start this season. But it’s very important to remember here that Manning was a member of the Colts for the bulk of that sweet statistical run and that this trend looks different than it actually is in some ways and Denver was a much different club during that time too. Jay Cutler. Ashley Lelie. Travis Henry, different. Anyway, the Colts are also an impressive 15-6-1 ATS in their L22 games, so this is a pretty tough handicap and TOs and field position may ultimately be the difference here with two evenly matched offenses.
Total-related trends heading into this Sunday afternoon game include: The Under is 5-0 L5 Colts games; the Over is 10-4 L14 Colts games on Road; the Over is 4-2 L6 Colts games in Denver; the Over is 9-4 L13 Broncos games; the Over is 5-1 L6 Denver games at home; and, maybe most importantly, the Over is 8-1 L9 in this series. So the trends scream points and the Over.
Indianapolis may be too one-dimensional on offense to expect to go into Denver and get the upset (and maybe the cover) and with the Broncos defense having improved so much yet still sort of flying under the Media Credit Radar, expect the hosts to soundly oust Luck & Co., although Indianapolis should top the Colts Team Total Points (22½, Bwin) mark here in a high-scoring and really entertaining loss.
It’s really nice to have a QB named Luck but it’s probably better to have a QB named Manning—at least if you’re the Denver Broncos in this case. And the extra week’s rest and the friendly confines of Sports Authority Field should lift Denver to a double-digit win.
Prediction: Broncos 40 Colts 27
Free NFL Picks: First Half Over 26½ -125 (Paddy Power), Broncos -7, Over 54 (5Dimes), Broncos Total Team Points Over 30 (BetVictor), Colts Team Total Points Over 22½ (Bwin)