Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck was recently made the highest-paid player in the NFL. For the 2016 season, Luck has a total of 4,250.5 passing yards at Bet365 NFL odds.
Colts Break Bank To Ink Luck
Colts owner Jim Irsay told anyone who would listen that he was going to break the bank in Luck's extension and Irsay kept his word. Late last month, Luck agreed to a six-year, $140 million deal. The $23.3 million average annual salary is the highest in NFL history. Luck is guaranteed $87 million. The previous most-guaranteed money for any NFL player was $65 million for both Eli Manning of the Giants and Philip Rivers of the Chargers. For the 2016 season, Luck has a total of 4,250.5 passing yards at Bet365.
Baltimore's Joe Flacco and Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers are the only other NFL quarterbacks averaging more than $22 million per year. It's not like Luck was going to be poor this year. The former No. 1 overall pick was set to play this season under the fifth-year option on his rookie deal that was to pay him $16.55 million.
What's interesting about all this is that Luck is coming off his worst season. Luck was limited to seven games due to injury in 2015 and the Colts were 2-5 in them. Even when Luck was on the field in 2015, he had an ugly 12 interceptions. His season ended in a Nov. 8 upset of the Denver Broncos when Luck suffered a lacerated kidney in the fourth quarter -- yet played through it that day. The Colts were one of the AFC betting favorites on NFL odds entering the season but slumped to 8-8 without Luck. They won 11 games each of the previous three years and reached the playoffs with Luck not missing any time.
Luck has the fourth-most passing yards (14,838) by any quarterback in his first four seasons in NFL history. He also is the fourth quarterback with at least 100 touchdown passes through four years, including an NFL-high 40 in 2014. His career high yardage is 4,761 in 2014. That was good for third in the NFL. For a while that year, Luck was on pace to break Peyton Manning's NFL record of 5,477 yards set in 2013 with Denver.
Two things that worry me about Luck this year would be his offensive line, which was one of the NFL's worst in 2015, and his receiving corps. The O-Line is likely to have two rookies as starters. Indianapolis used four of its eight 2016 draft picks on offensive linemen, including its first-rounder on Alabama center Ryan Kelly.
At receiver, TY Hilton is a very good player but there's not a stellar No. 2. The team signed Andre Johnson in free agency last offseason but he was largely a bust and has been released. Perhaps second-year Phillip Dorsett can step up this season. He had only 18 catches for 225 yards and a TD as a rookie.
In addition, the Colts running game has been terrible since Luck was drafted in 2012. In Luck's 61 starts (including playoffs), the Colts have produced one 100-yard rusher (Vick Ballard in 2012). There have been three games in which the Colts failed to rush for 5 yards (running back carries only), and Luck has finished four games as the Colts' leading rusher. Things aren't likely to be better this year with 33-year-old Frank Gore and free-agent castoffs Robert Turbin and Jordan Todman behind him. But in a way, that could benefit Luck in terms of going over that total because he probably will have to throw a lot.
Luck also benefits of playing half his games in the controlled elements of Lucas Oil Stadium. In fact, there's likely only one game on the Indianapolis schedule that's likely to be in wintry conditions: Dec. 5 at the Jets. Compare that with someone like Aaron Rodgers of the Packers or Ben Roethlisberger of the Steelers, who play outdoors and in cold-weather divisions. Luck is +1400 on NFL picks to win his first NFL MVP Award.
The Colts are +160 favorites to win the AFC South. I don't happen to think they win that. Indianapolis reports to training camp in Anderson, IN, on July 26.
Free NFL Pick: Again, assuming Luck stays upright I'm going 'over' the total, as the Colts are going to throw a ton because they can't run and their defense is likely going to give up a lot of points.