Place NFL Picks on Colts Cover vs. Steelers

Jason Lake

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 6:21 PM UTC

Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014 6:21 PM UTC

The Indianapolis Colts might not be the most efficient team in the NFL, but they’re pretty darned good at winning football games. They’re small road faves on the Week 8 NFL odds board against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Jason’s record after Week 7: 22-29 ATS, 7-11-1 Totals

Profit: minus-29.68 units

Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to the best team in football. Well, best for our purposes, anyway. The Indianapolis Colts (5-2 SU, 6-1 ATS) are the league’s most profitable team against the NFL odds, and they were just about the only thing we got right with our Week 7 NFL picks. Indianapolis put the kibosh on the Cincinnati Bengals (+3 away) last Sunday, shutting them out 27-0 despite losing a pair of fumbles. The Bengals had 135 yards of total offense. They didn’t get a first down until the final minute of the first half.

What can the Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3 SU, 3-4 ATS) hope to accomplish against the Colts in Week 8? Well, they did beat the Houston Texans (+3 away) 30-23 Monday night, putting the cap on an absolutely horrible week of NFL betting here at the ranch. But the Steelers have been alternating wins and losses all season, and on Sunday afternoon (4:25 p.m. ET, CBS), they’re “due” for another defeat against Indianapolis as 3-point home dogs, up from +1.5 at the open.

The Future Is Brown
The Steelers started Monday night’s game looking as feeble as they have for much of the season, falling behind 13-0 in the middle of the second quarter. Then the deluge: 24 straight Pittsburgh points before the half, aided and abetted by an Arian Foster fumble and a Ryan Fitzpatrick interception. Pittsburgh did well to take advantage, breaking the seal on a trick play with Antonio Brown throwing a TD pass to Lance Moore. But this was a game that Houston gift-wrapped and handed to the Steelers.

Indianapolis is less likely to be as generous. The Texans went into Week 7 ranked No. 24 in DVOA; the Colts were No. 13 (No. 12 offense, No. 21 defense, No. 5 special teams), seven spots ahead of the Steelers at No. 20 overall (No. 15 offense, No. 23 defense, No. 15 special teams). Pittsburgh also had an unsightly minus-7.8 SRS after six games, better than only four other teams in the NFL. We’ll see how much that improves after the Houston win.

Check out our NFL Picks: Week 8 Value Bets for more free plays

Third and Lucky
We’ll also see how far Indianapolis rises up the DVOA charts after shutting out Cincinnati. But haven’t those efficiency stats always seemed to paint the Colts in an unflattering light? Pro Football Reference crunched the numbers after the Bengals win and gave Indianapolis a plus-13.3 SRS, second only to the mighty Denver Broncos at plus-15.9 SRS. People are already floating the Colts as perhaps the best team in the league right now.

Maybe this is what happens when your quarterback is named Andrew Luck (100.5 passer rating) and your team logo is a horseshoe. When the Colts were first tearing up the NFL odds under head coach Chuck Pagano (and interim head coach Bruce Arians), they were enjoying unusually good success on third down. This year, the Colts have been very, very good at stopping other teams from converting their third downs. We’re talking a 25.97-percent conversion rate, easily the lowest in the league, and well below last year’s 40.57 percent.

It gets better: Indianapolis has held opponents to just a 9.38% conversion rate on third downs over the past three games. There’s no way that’s sustainable over the long term. But we’re going to go ahead and ride the hot hand for our Week 8 NFL picks. If you’re not feeling our attempts at Kelly betting, may we suggest making this a very small bet on Indianapolis? It’ll help counter the variance that comes with any Steelers game these days.

The Five Stars
Injuries/Suspensions/Travel/Rest: PIT
Defense/Special Teams: IND
Coaching: IND
Market Bias: PIT
Betting Line Value: IND

Verdict: 1-star pick on IND

Free NFL Pick: Bet 1.4 units on the Colts –2.5 at Pinnacle

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