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After the sudden retirement of QB Andrew Luck, the Indianapolis Colts struggles to get going last season and ended up with a 7-9 record. Now with Philip Rivers under center, the Colts are aiming to return to the postseason and maybe even win their first division title since 2014.
According to the latest odds, Indianapolis is set at an over/under win total of 8.5 games. We’ll take a look at how their offseason has unfolded, as well as their schedule in the fall, before determining whether the over or under makes the most sense.
There’s no question that Rivers is the biggest acquisition made by the Colts this offseason. The longtime Charger will take over the starting job, at least for a year, over last year’s starter Jacoby Brissett. While Rivers was the big addition on offense, Indy also swung a deal for 49ers DL DeForest Buckner, giving him a massive extension and giving San Francisco their first round pick in the draft. Those two were the main pieces brought in, as well as Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes and Bears TE Trey Burton on one-year deals.
As far as departures go, the biggest hits came among the receiving core. WR Devin Funchess agreed to a deal with the Packers, while TE Eric Ebron signed a two-year pact with the Steelers. In addition, WRs Dontrelle Inman and Chester Rogers are unlikely to return. Elsewhere, CB Pierre Desir signed with the Jets, and DE Jabaal Sheard won’t be back in Indy. It’s also the end of longtime kicker Adam Vinatieri’s tenure with the Colts.
Despite not having a first round pick after the Buckner trade, Indianapolis still managed to find some impact players early, especially on offense. With two second round picks, they landed USC WR Michael Pittman Jr. and Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor, each of whom should see action right away. Following the selection of Utah S Julian Blackmon, they found their potential heir to Rivers in Washington QB Jacob Eason. Ball State OG Danny Pinter and Penn State DT Robert Windsor highlight the five other selections they made on Day 3.
The Colts and the rest of the AFC South will play divisional opponents two times each, while also having matchups against the AFC North and NFC North. Additionally, the third place Colts will face two other third place teams in the Jets and Raiders this season. Overall, Indy has the 16th-ranked schedule in terms of difficulty, with their opponents combing for a .502 winning percentage in 2019. It’s the second-hardest schedule in the division behind the defending division champion Texans.
Indianapolis faces just one playoff team, the Vikings at home, in the first six games of the season before their Week 7 bye. Following the bye, the schedule gets more difficult, with a home game against the Ravens, two games against the Titans in a three-week span, and a home matchup against the Packers. Down the final stretch, they’ll have two games against the Texans, a road game against the Steelers, and the final game of the season at home versus the Jaguars.
There’s reason to think that the Colts have a playoff-caliber roster as it stands. The additions of Rivers and Buckner should prove to be upgrades, along with the draft picks like Pittman Jr. and Taylor. As far as returning players, OG Quenton Nelson headlines a dominant offensive line, WR T.Y. Hilton is still a very good number one option at receiver, and the defense features All-Pro players like Darius Leonard and Justin Houston.
The question is, however, is it enough to win double-digit games and return to the playoffs? It will be important for the Colts to take advantage of a favorable first half of the schedule and out themselves in a good position. They are one of the harder teams to predict, as so much of their success will be determined by Rivers. For now, my gut looks at Rivers’ regression from last year and thinks the Colts will end up UNDER 8.5 wins this season.
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