Are the Indianapolis Colts the winning Super Bowl XLIX bet? Find out as we weigh in on the strengths and weaknesses of the Colts according to the relevant and popular NFL rankings and look at the possible scenarios that could emerge in their bid for the ultimate prize.
Indianapolis Colts Long Shots
Indianapolis Colts enter the 2014-2015 NFL playoff race as the decided underdogs, matched at +750 to win the AFC Championship title and the + 2200 to win Super Bowl XLIX. This NFL betting outlook is fitting, for a franchise led by an untried and unproven quarterback, albeit undeniably talented.
Andrew Luck has emerged as one of the games most promising future prospects, but he's still to accomplish a meaningful run in the postseason. Despite stellar numbers in the regular season, record-breaking accounts for the Colts during his short career as the starting quarterback, Luck is still only 2-2 in the most season, a mark he only recently improved with a win over the Cincinnati Bengals in the wildcard round.
If Andrew Luck is to RSVP to the Super Bowl XLIX party, he'll need to overcome his predecessor Peyton Manning at Mile High this weekend and then either Joe Flacco or Tom Brady in the AFC Championship game. Of the quarterback mix in the AFC, Luck is the least experienced. All three have at least one Super Bowl title to their credit (Brady tops the group with 3 titles).
To date, the Colts best finish in the postseason behind Andrew Luck has been a divisional round exit, which they accomplished only last season. After stunning the Kansas City Chiefs in the wildcard round behind a late rally by Andrew Luck that erased a 28-point deficit to take the 45-44 win, the Colts succumbed to the Broncos 43-22 at Mile High.
For a second straight season, the Colts come up against the Denver Broncos in the divisional round. A game that is cornered wholeheartedly with the hosts on the evidence of previous meetings in the post season, as well as an opening week meeting this year that the Broncos clinched 30-24. The Colts are matched as the serious +250 underdogs to win outright while the Broncos are trading upwards of -300 NFL odds.
Simultaneously, the above mentioned market rolled out for this game corresponds to the various perceptions of each teams strengths and weakness demonstrated in the various easily accessible ranking schemes aired online for NFL bettors. ESPN NFL Power Rankings have the Colts in 8th place, third from the bottom of the last 8 field. Football Outsiders rank them slightly lower at 12th on Total DVOA and 13th on Weighted DVOA, both stats putting them second to last in the divisional playoff picture which is a rung lower than ESPN. Put against the Broncos, who are 4th according to ESPN and 3rd according to Football Outsiders in the pecking order, one gets a sense of the mismatch it really is on the NFL betting board.
We've taken all the corresponding stats to draw up our own playoff pecking order for the field of 8 going into the divisional round, and by our table ( See Table 1), the discrepancy is even greater between these two teams. In our Adjusted SBR Power Rankings, the Broncos are the top team while the Colts are seventh of the lot.
SBR Adjusted Power Rankings Table 1: 2014-2015 RANKINGS AT A GLANCE
Numbers, stats and various ranking schemes aren't absolutely defining. They only give one aspect of any picture. Games aren't played on paper but on the field, after all. If past playoffs are anything to go by, the instance of a lower-ranked (by the NFL experts and statisticians. Not to be confused with seeding) champion has been more frequent than one would expect. Last season, the Seattle Seahawks, the top team by the ESPN NFL Power Rankings, did come through. But the two years prior, the Baltimore Ravens (ranked the lowest in ESPN NFL Power Rankings) and the NY Giants (third lowest) emerged champions.
Buck up Colts Fans: Your day may be on the horizon. Indeed, Colts fans will hope this year's playoffs falls in line with the upset trends of some of the previous playoffs. Towards that end they lean on the budding quality of their young quarterback, who orchestrated the Colts' turnaround in the post-Manning era almost immediately and has been quietly going about his business rewriting the Indianapolis history books. There's an argument to be had about the softness of the AFC South division, an inherent quality in the group that has allowed Luck to capitalise. Of course, this isn't to cast aspersions but rather to provide a viable context for the debate. When making comparisons, it doesn't do to knock one or the other down simply by the numbers. A context needs to be provided and the strength of the competition certainly makes a difference.
In any event, those are just semantics. Only Andrew Luck can underline his credentials in the postseason. To do so he needs a signature win. It remains to be seen whether he'll pull it off this weekend. There are many waiting for Luck to finally come of age, not least those powers that be in the franchise that decided to cast off Peyton Manning in favour of the young budding star.
Why the Indianapolis Colts Can Win Super Bowl XLIX
Simply because in a field of 8, each and every single team has a viable, notional shot. With a talented quarterback at the helm such as Andrew Luck, it would be silly to claim otherwise. They are after a win in the wildcard round, which sends them on some momentum into the divisional round.
Why the Indianapolis Colts Can't Win Super Bowl XLIX
Strength of schedule (or lack thereof) and competition in the regular season sets up the Colts rather poorly for a postseason stacked with legitimate contenders and proven champions, save for the Panthers.
Super Bowl Betting Verdict:
NFL bettors, however, require tangibles. Luck may be after a win over the Bengals, but everybody knows the Bengals have a major historical hurdle: being winless in the postseason. One can put all their stock into that result. Fact is Luck hasn't got a signature win in the postseason and with both Brady and Manning peaking in their twilight years, he may have to wait his turn. Fittingly, the Colts are a long shot NFL pick at +2200 to win it all.