NFL Expert Picks Against the Spread: Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts
I try to live my life as a glass half-full type of guy, but I honestly have nothing much positive to say about the Thursday night finale to the 2017 NFL regular season this week when the Denver Broncos visit the Indianapolis Colts. It's nothing short of a horrendous matchup and, frankly, it would be better for both teams to lose in terms of helping draft status.
As thing stand currently, the Broncos (4-9) would pick fifth in the 2018 draft, ahead of fellow 4-9 teams Houston (its pick goes to Cleveland), Chicago and Tampa Bay. So, a win here could be very costly for the Broncos, who close at Washington and home to Chiefs (probably losses). I do wonder if John Elway would take a quarterback that high after just selecting Paxton Lynch late in the first round of the 2016 draft. Lynch pretty clearly doesn't look like the answer under center. The correct answer isn't on the team right now. Elway might prefer to go the veteran free-agent route this offseason. It worked out well when Elway lured a Manning to the Mile High City last time; might Eli head west too? It remains to be seen if the Broncos could afford a top-tier free agent like Washington's Kirk Cousins - if the Skins let him get to free agency.
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Indianapolis (3-10), which closes at Baltimore (loss) and home to Houston (possible win) would pick third in the draft right now, behind the Browns and Giants, who likely are both taking quarterbacks. That would work out well for the Colts as they aren't going QB with Andrew Luck under a long-term contract so they could get the best non-QB available. How good would Penn State running back Saquon Barkley look in the Colts backfield with a healthy Luck in 2018? A high draft pick plus Luck should mean the Colts have their pick of potential new head coaches. There's no chance Chuck Pagano is back.
I actually think both the Broncos and Colts could return to the playoffs next year - see, glass half-full! -- if they get their QB problems solved. For Indy, that's just keeping Luck healthy. At least the Colts know they have a very capable backup going forward in Jacoby Brissett, who has been a nice trade acquisition from New England.
Broncos at Colts Betting Story Lines
Denver ended an eight-game losing streak, its longest since 1967 when it was an AFL team, with a 23-0 wipeout of the New York Jets this past Sunday. The Broncos sill have a ton of talent on defense, and they overwhelmed Gang Green by holding them to just 100 yards of offense, the second-fewest in Jets history. The Broncos also didn't turn it over, which has been a big problem. Had Denver lost that game at home in front of thousands of empty seats, I'm not sure Elway can bring Coach Vance Joseph back next year even though he's only in his first season. Trevor Siemian, who would make a fine backup QB, threw for 200 yards and a score to Demaryius Thomas. He's now No. 2 in franchise history in both TD catches (56) and yards (8,475).
Sunday's Colts-Bills game in Buffalo was an absolute riot to watch as it was played in a blizzard. Indy lost 13-7 in overtime partly because Adam Vinatieri, maybe the greatest clutch kicker in NFL history, couldn't come through for once. The Colts drew within 7-6 with about a minute left on a Brissett pass to Jack Doyle. They opted to go for 2 - might as well - and made it, but there was a penalty. Vinatieri was brought on to kick a 43-yard PAT and barely made it, calling it probably the greatest PAT of his life. Indy would get into position to win from the exact same spot on the final play of regulation, but this time Vinatieri couldn't connect. The Bills would win on a LeSean McCoy TD run late in OT.
Brissett threw for just 69 yards, but that's understandable considering the weather. Frank Gore, at age 34, rushed a career-high 36 times for a season-best 130 yards. Gore tied former Bills great O.J. Simpson (42) for the 16th-most 100-yard games in NFL history and passed Curtis Martin (17,430) for the eighth-most scrimmage yards in league history. Gore had only topped 62 yards one other time this season. I can't imagine he has much in the tank in this quick turnaround. You could see plenty of fourth-round rookie Marlon Mack.
Broncos at Colts Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Denver is a 1-point favorite (-125) with a total of 41. On the moneyline, the Broncos are -133 and Colts +113. On the alternate lines, Denver is -2 (-115), -2.5 (-110) and -3 (+115). The Broncos are 3-9-1 against the spread (0-6 on road) and 7-6 "over/under" (4-2 on road). Indianapolis is 6-7 ATS (4-2 at home) and 6-7 O/U (2-4 at home).
The Broncos are 8-2 ATS in their past 10 Thursday game. They are 1-5-1 in their past seven after a win. The Colts are 12-2-1 ATS in their past 15 on Thursday. They are 1-4 ATS in their previous five in December. The under is 6-1 in Denver's past seven vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 5-0 in the Colts' five. The Broncos are 1-9 ATS in the past 10 meetings.
Broncos at Colts Betting Prediction
Denver has lost its past six at Indianapolis, but I take little from that because the Colts generally either had Luck or Peyton Manning in those games. The last time Denver won in Indianapolis was Dec. 21, 2003, behind Jake Plummer. Last year, the Colts visited Denver and lost 34-20 in Week 2. Luck was strip-sacked by Von Miller with under two minutes left, which led to the clinching touchdown. Siemian outplayed Luck.
I'll side with Denver here despite that road ATS mark simply as it has a far superior defense. The offenses are a wash. Go under the total.
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