Indianapolis Colts Odds to Win the Super Bowl and Betting Futures
by Alan Matthews - 7/17/2014
I don't think anyone would argue that the three best teams in the NFL during the 2013 regular season were Seattle, San Francisco and Denver in whichever order you would like to list them. One team beat all those clubs: Andrew Luck's Indianapolis Colts. Luck led the Colts to a second straight 11-5 record and the AFC South title. When the Colts were good, they looked great. However, when they are bad, they looked terrible. Just nine points in a Week 6 loss in San Diego (perhaps acceptable considering home matchups with the Seahawks and Broncos sandwiched that game). Only eight points in a 30-point shocking home blowout loss to the Rams. Just 11 points in 29-point loss at Arizona.
This is a young team, and it showed in some of that inconsistent play. Luck did get the first of what should be many playoff wins by staging one of the great comebacks in NFL history. The Colts were down 38-10 at home in the third quarter of their wild-card game against Kansas City, but then Luck went crazy and the Chiefs couldn't do anything to stop him. Luck led a 45-44 win, the second-largest playoff comeback win ever. You still have to take the occasionally erratic Luck with the excellent one. He had three picks against K.C. but also threw for 443 yards and four scores. The following week in a 43-22 loss in New England, Luck threw for 331 yards and two scores but also four interceptions. I'd still be willing to bet every GM in the league would take Luck No. 1 overall if every player was eligible to be drafted and it was for the next five seasons instead of just one or two (then you have to take Manning).
Until Luck can avoid all those picks and until the Colts get a semblance of a running game, they are likely to be just below an elite level.
Other than in yardage, Luck was better across the board in every statistic compared to his rookie year, completing 60.2 percent (still a bit low) for 3,822 yards, 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions. That's more impressive because the offensive line wasn't great and the running game usually struggled. The Colts traded a 2014 first-round pick early in the season to Cleveland for Trent Richardson, and that move looks like a bust thus far. Richardson averaged just 2.9 yards per carry with the Colts. Still, he's going to get his chances with leading rusher Donald Brown having moved on. Richardson will be pushed, though, as Indy brought back Ahmad Bradshaw after he played in only three games due to injury. Vick Ballard likely would have been last year's main guy -- and eliminated the need for Richardson -- if Ballard didn't tear his ACL in the season opener.
Manning also lost his No. 1 receiver, Reggie Wayne, to a season-ending injury in Week 7. T.Y. Hilton emerged as Luck's top target, catching 82 balls for 1,083 yards and five scores. He killed the Chiefs in the playoffs with 13 catches for 224 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner. Wayne will be 36 in November, so the Colts also added Giants free-agent Hakeem Nicks. He's tremendous when healthy. Luck also has a very good tight end in Coby Fleener. Fellow tight end Dwayne Allen also returns from injury and he's got skills. Allen was also lost in Week 1 for the season in 2013.
The Colts had one of the NFL's biggest defensive difference-makers last year in outside linebacker Robert Mathis. He led the NFL with 19.5 sacks (46 percent of the Colts' total) and eight forced fumbles but lost out on NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors to Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly. Alas, Mathis will miss the first four games of 2014 after violating the league's ban on performance-enhancing substances. Mathis said he was taking a drug to aid in fertility and that the doctor who prescribed it said it would be fine by the NFL. Apparently not. The team's 2013 first-round pick, Bjorn Werner, is the leading candidate to start at outside linebacker while Mathis is serving his suspension. Werner was a disappointment last year but did beef up this offseason.
Indianapolis ranked 21st in total defense (26th in rushing) and ninth in scoring (21.0 ppg). That unit lost very good safety Antoine Bethea to the 49ers in free agency, but Indy was able to re-sign top cornerback Vontae Davis. Rising defensive end Arthur Jones (Ravens), veteran linebacker D'Qwell Jackson (led Browns in tackles last year) and safety Mike Adams (Broncos) were added in free agency. All three should start.
2014 Indianapolis Colts Schedule Analysis
The Colts can't have many complaints about their schedule as they have the easiest in the NFL . Their opponents went 110-145 last season, a winning percentage of .430. Of course, it helps the Colts get six games against the weakest division in the NFL, the AFC South. Indy's road slate (.414) is tied as the easiest, while its home schedule (.445) is only a bit tougher. The Colts are 7.5-point underdogs for the Week 1 Sunday night game at Denver. The total of 55.5 is by far the highest. Of course, the Colts beat the visiting Broncos Week 7 last season, Peyton Manning's first return to Indianapolis. Luck outplayed Manning by throwing for three scores and running for another. That was the game Wayne was lost for the season.
No one believes the Colts will go to Denver and win, and then Indy has a tough one Week 2 at home against the Eagles. The next six games, however, the Colts should be favored in: vs. Eagles, at Jaguars, vs. Titans, vs. Ravens, at Texans, vs. Bengals. The last two games before the break will be tough, trips to Pittsburgh and the Giants. The post-Week 10 bye schedule doesn't feature a game that the Colts can't win: vs. Patriots, vs. Jaguars, vs. Redskins, at Browns, vs. Texans, at Cowboys, at Titans. They could really make a move in those first five. Win all those and you might not have much to play for on the road in the final two weeks.
2014 Indianapolis Colts Odds to Win the Super Bowl and Betting Futures
Odds courtesy of Sportsbook.ag . The Colts are +1800 to win the Super Bowl, +900 to win the AFC championship and -150 favorites to take the AFC South. They have a wins total of 9.5, with the "over" a -120 favorite. Indianapolis is -150 to make the playoffs and +120 to miss. Luck is +2000 to win NFL MVP and +1800 to lead the league in passing yards. Richardson is +10000 to top the NFL in rushing. Wayne is +10000 have the most receiving yards in the NFL with Hilton at +4500 and Nicks at +20000.
2014 Indianapolis Colts Picks and Predictions
This does appear to be the best team on paper the Colts have had since Luck arrived on the scene. Indy thinks Richardson is ready to have a nice year. He is trying to rely more on his instincts while running instead of hesitating and trying to hit a home run on every play. That works at Alabama but not in the NFL. My two worries about this club would be the offensive line and the secondary. Maybe the former will be better now that two of the worst guys up there, center Samson Satele and guard Mike McGlynn, are gone.
I definitely like the Colts' schedule, although not having Mathis might cost them one win (vs. Eagles). I'd still go over, projecting a 10-6 finish and easily winning the AFC South again. I don't recommend any individual props, although Luck will win one MVP at some point.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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