NFL Picks: Back The Under In Preseason Debut Between Colts & Injury-Ravaged Bills

Indianapolis Colts

Friday, August 12, 2016 3:52 PM GMT

NFL fans haven't seen Colts quarterback Andrew Luck since Week 9 last season, but he should be in there Saturday night in Buffalo as Indianapolis opens its preseason nearly a week late. There is no opening line or total on NFL odds as of this writing.

Indianapolis Colts vs Buffalo Bills  

Colts What To Watch For
Of course, the Colts were scheduled to play Green Bay in last Sunday's Hall of Fame Game in Canton but a painting mishap on the field forced that game to be canceled in a huge embarrassment for the NFL. At least Indy got to report to training camp early in preparation for the fifth preseason game.

It's not clear if Luck was going to play Sunday but I'd be surprised if he didn't get at least a series on Saturday. The Colts are installing a new offense under coordinator Rob Chudzinski. He began last season as a special assistant to the head coach. But Indy coach Chuck Pagano fired offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton on Nov. 3 and gave Chudzinski play-calling duties. Chudzinski has given the full-time job this offseason. He and Pagano both were assistants at the University of Miami. Chudzinski was the head coach of the Browns in 2013 but fired after a 4-12 record. He was the offensive coordinator of the Browns from 2007-2008 and the Panthers from 2011-2012. Chudzinski is Luck's third offensive coordinator in five years.

Thus I'm sure Luck would like to try out this offense against the opposition. Luck's new backup is former Packer Scott Tolzien, so I'm sure we see plenty of him as well as third-stringer Stephen Morris.

The Indy defense is a little thin up front right now. End Kendall Langford suffered a knee injury recently and has been ruled out 3-4 weeks -- which should mean he can play Week 1.  His 128 straight games played is the longest active streak in the NFL for defensive linemen. Tackle Henry Anderson remains on the PUP list recovering from a torn ACL suffered last season. He's very iffy for Week 1. Tackle Arthur Jones is practicing but will be suspended the first four games of the regular season. So the Colts will be looking at several guys up front this preseason, including Hassan Ridgeway and Sterling Bailey.

Indianapolis was 1-3 last preseason, 1-3 against the spread on NFL odds and 1-3 'over/under.'

 

Bills What To Watch For
You know those NFL Draft grades that all the analysts put out immediately after the draft ends if not after every single pick? I shouldn't have to tell you those are worthless, but I'll use the Bills as an example of why they are.

Buffalo's top two areas of need entering this year's draft were a defensive end and linebacker after its defense regressed to No. 19 in the NFL last season. So the Bills took Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson with their first-round pick and Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland, projected by some as a first-rounder, in Round 2. You won't see those guys on Saturday or for a long while. The Bills knew Lawson had a shoulder problem when they drafted him but he had to have surgery in May. He's likely to miss the first 6-8 weeks of the season. Lawson was penciled in as a Day 1 starter.

Then a few days ago in camp, Ragland tore the ACL in his left knee. The Bills first said it was a partial tear in the hopes Ragland would still play this season. But after an MRI and second opinion, Ragland will undergo season-ending surgery. Ragland was expected to start from Day 1 as well. Now the Bills will turn to someone among  Zach Brown or recently-signed Brandon Spikes and David Hawthorne. Spikes is the biggest name from his Patriots days. He last played in the NFL for the Bills in 2014.

You also won't see Buffalo's top receiver, Sammy Watkins, on Saturday as he works his way back from a broken foot. Watkins just recently returned to practice. Also out is left tackle Cordy Glenn. He is dealing with a high-ankle sprain and expected out the entire preseason. He got a five-year, $60 million contract this offseason. Will that injury affect how much Coach Rex Ryan uses QB Tyrod Taylor in the preseason? Taylor, remember, is in a contract year.

Buffalo was 2-2 last preseason, 2-2 ATS on NFL picks and 2-2 O/U.

 

Series History
Buffalo leads the all-time preseason series 4-3, winning the last matchup 44-20 in Indianapolis in the 2013 exhibition opener. These teams did meet in Buffalo in Week 1 of the 2015 regular season and the Bills won 27-14 in Ryan's regular-season Bills coaching debut. Taylor was 14-for-19 for 195 yards and a TD and rushed for 41 yards. Luck wasn't all that sharp, completing 26 of 49 for 243 yards, two TDs and two picks. The Colts were down 17-0 at the half.

The line will have the Bills as slight favorites and a total between 35-37. I usually like the home team in preseason games but I'm taking the Colts here. Go 'under.' 

 

NFL Free Picks: Under 36.5 -107
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

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