Can Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts serve up a surprise when they take on the undefeated Denver Broncos in week 9? Find out as we breakdown this matchup and serve up NFL picks.
Denver Broncos (7-0, 4-0 Away)
One of four undefeated sides in the NFL, the Denver Broncos put a 7-0 SU record, which includes a 4-0 SU away record, on the line when they descend on the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Stadium, marking week 9 of the NFL betting season.
Peyton Manning and Co. are coming off a gauntlet-throwing win over the Green Bay Packers, all while installed as the home underdogs on the NFL odds board. To say they defied the NFL odds is in an understatement as they comfortably beat the Packers 29-10 as the 3-point home underdogs or thereabouts depending on your sportsbook of choice. It wasn’t even close.
Crucially, Peyton Manning, the subject of most ominous narratives, found his offensive muscle and went on to enjoy his best account yet. Not great mind, but a damn sight better than his previous accounts on the season. He went 20-of-29 for 340 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.
Whether it was the bye week that allowed Manning to finally prosper under Gary Kubiak’s offense or whether it was simply a question of time before Manning adjusted to all the changes and new scheme brought in by a new offensive team altogether is a debate for NFL panels.
So is the fact that the Packers failed to pressure Manning meaningfully or sack him, allowing him to have relatively untroubled stints on the field and throw deep (a sight for sore Broncos’ fans eyes).
Indianapolis Colts (3-5, 1-3 Home)
Things are not going to plan in Indianapolis. Andrew Luck is well on his way to a worst-ever season in his four-year NFL career and the Colt et al are underachieving. Preseason expectations set by odds makers and NFL experts alike had the Indianapolis Colts as one of the viable contenders in the playoffs. Some went so far as to hand the Super Bowl 50 to them and earmark Andrew Luck for the MVP honors.
Halfway through the season and those predictions seem ludicrous in the wake of their 3-5 SU record, if not highly premature at a time when the game is rich with quality at quarterback and future Hall of Famers like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers still going strong. If there’s one bright spot for the Colts, it’s the AFC South. The entire field is abysmal this season, underperforming something huge. In fact, the 3-5 SU record held by the Colts (and equalled by the Texans, mind) is the best record of the division right now.
The AFC South has been theirs to win or lose in recent memory. The Colts may yet crawl into the playoff picture if they win a third straight AFC South title, even with a losing overall record. Last season, the Carolina Panthers did exactly that. Of course, that presupposes the rest of the field continues to stink up the AFC altogether and the Colts can’t take such a thing for granted. For instance: what if the Texans enjoy a renaissance?
Funnily enough the Texans are on a bye week. So without even the pressure of having to win a game this weekend, they might end up leading the AFC South at the close of week 9 if the Colts lose to the Broncos. Looking further down the schedule, the load only gets heavier for the Colts with a date against the Falcons in week 11 followed by a date with the Steelers in week 12.
In no uncertain terms, this is a must-win game for the Colts ahead of their bye week 10. That said, just because it is so doesn’t mean they’ll actually accomplish the feat. They can be motivated, inspired, desperate even to win this game, but even they must share in the reality of the monumental task before them against one of the league’s best defenses. Not to mention, the homecoming for Peyton Manning it’s sure to be – Indianapolis’ beloved son for many years as the Colts quarterback until 2012 when he was usurped by Andrew Luck.
NFL Betting Verdict
The NFL betting lines on this game opened with the Broncos installed as the 3-point road chalk and the total hovering on 48 points. Since early doors, the Broncos have swelled up to 5 and 5.5-points across most sportsbook platforms while the total has dwindled to 45 points. Some NFL prognosticators would have it that these lines will continue to move until kick off – mainly the spread increasing to a score. If that happens, Indy are going to look more and more attractive as the home underdogs to cover. That makes perfect sense if established perceptions from season’s past about these two sides (not to mention the last meeting between this pair in the playoffs that the Colts surprisingly won) are weighed in the balance and current realities are ignored.
Denver boasts a 5-2 ATS record this season with an 8-point winning margin while the Colts are 3-5 ATS on the season with a 3.5-point losing margin. On the road, the Broncos are 3-1 ATS with a 7-point winning margin while the Colts are 1-3 ATS at home with a 5.8-point losing margin. Don’t forget what happened to the Colts when they faced the stout defense of the Jets. In case you did, here’s a reminder: they lost 20-7 with Luck earning one his worst QBRs at 20.0. Yikes. A week before that the Colts lost to a decent Bills defense 27-14, a game Rex Ryan was rather miffed not have won on a bagel so badly did Luck play that not even a GPS to the end zone would have directed him their successfully.
In any event, we digress. As it is, with the 5-point spread trading on the NFL odds board we’re banking on the Broncos to cover. Given that defense has been key to the Broncos’ success this season, our total NFL pick should probably be the UNDER 45. However, seeing as it is a bit of a homecoming for Peyton Manning and a stadium he probably knows all too well we’re banking on the OVER 45 instead.
NFL Picks: Broncos -5 (-110) and OVER 45 (-110) at BetOnline