NFL Picks: Ground Game to be the Difference in Colts vs. Broncos

Darin Zank

Tuesday, January 6, 2015 1:25 PM GMT

Before placing your NFL pick on Colts vs. Broncos, keep in mind that Denver with Peyton Manning has split two games both SU/ATS vs. Manning's former team and quarterback Andrew Luck.

Colts-Broncos Betting Odds
Most of the NFL odds betting market opened this game with Denver favored by seven points, the total pegged at 53. And while the spread was holding steady in the early betting, the total got bumped to 54.

Those who think Indy might pull the upset here could get +260 on the moneyline at Youwager.

 

Colts-Broncos: The Match-Up
Indy just downed Cincinnati in an AFC wild-card game 26-10, covering as a four-point favorite. The Colts led 10-9 at halftime, then won the second half 13-0. Indy outgained Cincy 482-254, won time-of-possession by a 34/26 margin and basically just dominated the Bengals, who notably were without one of their main offensive weapons in wide receiver AJ Green.

The Colts have now won six of their last seven games, going 4-2-1 ATS in the process.

Denver is the No. 2 seed in the AFC, playing at home, and didn't have to play last week. The Broncos ended the regular season on a 5-1 run, but only went 3-3 ATS because they couldn't cover as six-point favorites against Miami or as nine-point favorites at Buffalo. Also, earlier this season, Denver won but couldn't cover at -8 against Indy, and beat Kansas City but couldn't cover at -13. All four of those were home games, which might indicate the linesmakers have been overrating Denver at home

These teams have met twice since Manning went to Denver and Luck took over at Indy, most recently back on opening weekend of this season, when the Broncos built a 24-0 lead, then hung on for a 31-24 victory. Denver outrushed the Colts 102-54 and held a 32/28 time-of-possession advantage, but allowed Indy to score twice in the last eight minutes to sneak away with a back-door cover as eight-point underdogs.

Last year the Colts beat the Broncos in Indianapolis 39-33.

 

Colts-Broncos, Statistically Speaking
Indy ranked third in the league this season in total yardage at 407 YPG, although just 22nd in rushing at 101 YPG. The Colts also ranked 11th in total defense, allowing 343 YPG, and 18th against the run at 113 YPG.

Denver ranked fourth in total offense at 403 YPG, 15th in rushing at 112 YPG, third in total defense at 305 YPG and second against the run, limiting opponents to just 80 YPG on the ground.

Also, Indy ranked fifth in average time-of-possession at 31:54, while Denver ranked 12th at 30:54. But the Broncos ranked 11th in turnover margin at +5, while the Colts ranked 22nd at -5.

 

Colts-Broncos Betting Trends
Including last week's win over Cincinnati the Colts are 3-4 SU, 4-3 ATS against teams that made the playoffs this season.

Denver is 2-3 SU and just 1-4 ATS against playoff qualifiers this season.

The Broncos are 10-6 on the OVER/UNDERS this season, as their games have averaged 52 points.

Indianapolis went 9-7 on the totals during the regular season, as Colts games also averaged 52 points. But Indy, including last week's wild-card victory, has played five UNDERS in a row, in part because its defense has held three of its last five opponents to exactly 10 points, and in part because the Colts have only averaged 21 PPG over that same span.

 

Colts-Broncos Free Pick
The quarterbacks in this match-up will get all the ink this week, but the team that runs the ball better and plays better defense will win this game, and probably cover this spread. Denver, with CJ Anderson taking charge, has outrushed five of its last six opponents, while Indianapolis has been outrushed in four of its last five contests. So we'll place our NFL pick on the Broncos to win this game, with room enough for the cover.

Free NFL Division-Round Pick: Denver -7 at Pinnacle