Call it mad respect or call it a school girl crush, but I’m all about the Colts this year and it starts with GM Chris Ballard and how he’s revamped this team since his arrival in 2017. His roster creation both in free agency and the draft has been impressive and he’s playing the long game, which is refreshing to see these days. I’m also a fan of Head Coach Frank Reich and the up tempo offense he’ll put out there. This isn’t a run to set up the pass offense, it’s about efficiencies and smart play calling using a variety of weapons in various situations and formations. This isn’t Jason Garrett’s offense people!
The Colts win total opened at 6.5 last year, closed at 7.5 and they won 10 games exceeding expectations after a 4 win 2017. 2018 brought us the return of Andrew Luck, the dominance and swagger of a newly formed OL and some gold star scouting after impressive rookie seasons from their top 2 picks. 2018 success brings 2019 pressure and I’m pumped to watch this team try and take the next step.
There is no doubt the Patriots rule the AFC, but as they continue to age and perhaps some kinks in the armor begin to show for KC, PIT and LAC we may be witnessing the creation of the next AFC power house.
Super Bowl Odds: +1400
Odds to Win the AFC: +800
Odds to Win the AFC South: +110
Season Win Total: 9.5
(Lines for weeks 2-16 from CG Technology as of May 16, 2019)
Week / Opponent / Line / Expected Wins
1 @ Los Angeles Chargers +3 (.41)
2 @Tennessee PK (.50)
3 Atlanta -4 (.66)
4 Oakland -8 (.79)
5 @ Kansas City +4.5 (.33) SNF
7 Houston -4 (.66)
8 Denver -7 (.75)
9 @ Pittsburgh +2.5 (.45)
10 Miami -9.5 (.81)
11 Jacksonville -6.5 (.72)
12 @ Houston +2 (.46) TNF
13 Tennessee -7 (.75)
14 @ Tampa Bay -3 (.59)
15 @ New Orleans +5 (.32) MNF
16 Carolina -6 (.71)
17 @Jacksonville -4 (estimate) (.66)
Total Expected Wins: 9.57
Saying the Colts were flush with cash this offseason is an understatement, as they had over $100m in salary cap space to burn. Yet, they haven’t lit any of it on fire yet….and that’s what’s so impressive with this organization as they are very focused and intensely disciplined on creating this roster. They currently sit with $58m left and Chris Ballard has already gone on record stating they want to keep funds available to extend guys and keep their core group of players together. Can you believe it….a GM thinking 2-3 years down the road?!
Their two big signings included Justin Houston from KC who should add some veteran leadership and aid in the pass rush and WR Devin Funchess (smart short term deals). Funchess is an interesting one as he never really excelled as the WR1 for a run heavy Carolina team but early reports are promising opposite TY Hilton as a large down field target. Perhaps we’ll see some more defensive FA pickups over the coming months.
GM Chris Ballard pulled a ‘Belichickian’ move at the draft trading down and ending up with three 2nd round picks. If you’re counting, that’s the second year in a year they’ve had three second rounders. Their focus on the draft was laser pointed on their defense, especially their back seven, spending their top pick on Temple’s CB Rock Ya-Sin. Outside of a great name, he’ll likely cement himself as a starting DB for years to come. They then grabbed edge rusher Ben Banogu, who may be a year or two away from making a difference and they rounded out the second round with speedster wide out Parris Campbell. Another cool name and tons of hype out of mini-camp have Indy fans salivating at this pick. The following five picks were all on defense with 5th round safety Marvell Tell out of USC already garnering some attention. All in all, this isn’t the sexiest list of players but a solid draft that appears to have been executed to perfection based on their needs.
This is one of the more well-rounded and balanced offensive units around. They have strengths at every position and even led the league in 3rd down conversion last year. Andrew Luck is a top 5 QB and provided he remains healthy should continue to put up numbers. Consider a Luck prop bet for most passing yards (in the +800 range). The offensive line was practically impenetrable, #1 in the league in sacks allowed (18 vs Houston who gave up 62 sacks!) and they’ll be keeping the same starting 5 intact. Do we even care about running backs anymore? If so, Marlon Mack is good, young and should improve. Not much needs to be said about TY Hilton and the addition of Funchess and Parris Campbell along with slot receiver Chester Rogers make this a solid group. Lastly, touchdown factory Eric Ebron should start at TE with one of Luck’s favorite targets (when healthy) backing him up and that’s Jack Doyle.
Here is where their weakness lies….but not for long. Top pick in 2017 Malik Hooker is poised for a breakout season if he can remain healthy. He’s the #2 ranked defensive player for Indy (as per Pro Football Focus) behind 2018 2nd round pick and rookie of the year linebacker Darius Leonard who led the NFL in tackles last year. As you can tell, this is a young defense and even more so with the addition of their top two picks which is why the Justin Houston pick up was an important one. Their 2018 numbers were fairly average in most categories but I wouldn’t take that at face value due to them playing one of the easiest schedules of offenses in the league. This unit will need to grow up fast for them to win some playoff games but have faith in this GM and Coaching staff to show further improvement.
Notes & Nuggets
After hyping up their coaching staff, it’s funny to see they are the #2 most penalized team on defense and #4 on offense. Surely, the coaches will get these young guys to smarten up.
On the schedule front, the Colts land right near the middle for strength of schedule based on this years expected win totals. I don’t like the early week 6 bye, but they have 3 primetime games and don’t have a road trip longer than 2 games. They face some tough teams on the road (LAC, KC, PIT, NO) but this is still a manageable schedule.
I absolutely love this team and will be looking for betting opportunities all summer to bet this team so put me down for over 9.5 wins. That said, the biggest bet I’ve made so far this summer isn’t their win total, it’s for them to win the AFC South. You can find the division bets paying in the range of +110 whereas you’ll need to pay -120 to -150 to bet the over 9.5 wins. If you’re with me and think the Colts will win 10/11 games then betting the division is the play, but do it fast as I don’t think you’ll find +110 or 9.5 wins available come August