Raiders at Colts Picks and Week 1 NFL Odds
by Alan Matthews - 7/18/2013
Don't think that hitting or missing on the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft determines the direction of a franchise? Well, I give you the Oakland Raiders and Indianapolis Colts, who face off in Week 1, as examples.
When you really stink, you get the top pick. No draft lottery in football. Getting that top pick is not quite a sure thing for an immediate turnaround like in the NBA, but it helps -- especially now that there is cost-certainty in the first round of the draft courtesy of the new CBA. The Raiders have stunk since 2003 and finally landed the top overall pick in the 2007 draft. They took LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell, even though Russell wasn't exactly a superstar in college. But he looked the part and was one of those workout warriors. We all know how that turned out as he's probably the biggest bust in NFL history. So who went No. 2 behind Russell? Some Georgia Tech receiver named Calvin Johnson. No. 7 that year? An Oklahoma running back named Adrian Peterson. Yeah, the Raiders blew it. And they still haven't had a winning record since 2002.
The Colts, meanwhile, were always good with Peyton Manning but essentially threw in the towel when he missed the 2011 season. Indianapolis knew that Andrew Luck was going to be available at No. 1 in the 2012 NFL Draft, and Luck had graded out better than any QB since fellow Stanford alum John Elway. After a 2-14 record, Indy got its man. Not much was expected from the Colts last season while Luck had his growing pains and the team rebuilt the roster, but he proved to be as adept at comebacks as any rookie in history. Yes, Luck was a bit inaccurate and threw 18 picks, but he also set a rookie record with 4,374 yards and added 23 touchdowns. Any other year he's the Offensive Rookie of the Year, but Robert Griffin III got more publicity and won the award. Luck led the Colts to an improbable 11-5 record -- losing in the wild-card round at Baltimore -- and now the franchise looks set to be a good team for the next decade again barring an injury to its burgeoning star.
Raiders at Colts Betting Story Lines
Oakland is probably still another few years at best from contention as GM Reggie McKenzie clears up what was arguably the worst salary-cap mess in the NFL. The Raiders let a ton of potential starters go simply for financial reasons. They also ended the Carson Palmer experiment, which proved to be one of the worst trades in franchise history. To replace Palmer, the Raiders traded two later-round picks to Seattle for QB Matt Flynn.
This time last year, it was expected that Flynn would be Seattle's starting QB, but then rookie Russell Wilson beat him out and was so good he made Flynn expendable. Flynn, who ironically was a backup at LSU to Russell, has started just two games in five seasons as a pro, both with the Packers. He was good in those, but no one knows what he is. Flynn was drafted by the Packers late in the 2008 draft when McKenzie was in the Green Bay front office. I doubt the Raiders will ask Flynn to do too much, especially considering his receiving corps. Expect plenty of handoffs to Darren McFadden, who is great when healthy. He just never is.
The Colts were active in free agency this offseason. They needed to bolster the offensive line after Luck was sacked 41 times last year and added two potential starters there. They also added a former Raiders Top-10 pick, receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey. Maybe Luck can turn the former Maryland player into a star. He figures to start Week 1 opposite veteran Reggie Wayne. Perhaps Indy's biggest loss was Bruce Arians. He was the team's offensive coordinator who had to become the interim coach last year when Chuck Pagano had to leave the team after being diagnosed with leukemia. Arians became the first interim coach named NFL Coach of the Year and definitely tutored Luck plenty. Arians is now the head coach in Arizona.
Raiders at Colts Betting Odds and Trends
At WagerWeb, the Colts are 6.5-point favorites with a total of 49. The Raiders were 5-11-0 ATS last season (3-5 on road) and 6-10 “over/under” (3-5 on road). The Colts were 11-5-0 ATS (7-1 at home) and 6-10 O/U (2-6 at home). Indy's 11 ATS wins tied for the most in the NFL in 2012 as did its seven at home (Seattle only other team with seven). The Colts weren't as high as seven-point favorites all last season. Their best was 4.5 at Kansas City late in the year. The Raiders were at least that big of a dog six times. They covered twice.
Raiders at Colts Picks and Week 1 NFL Betting Predictions
Were the Colts lucky or good in 2012? They won nine games by a touchdown or less. Luck had six fourth-quarter comebacks, including one game-winning TD pass against Detroit with no time left. Several of those comebacks came against teams that didn't make the playoffs. Still, the Raiders aren't going to be any good. They lost eight of their final nine last year and have a porous defense. This line was at seven and I'd think push there. At 6.5 I like Indy, but at 7.5 I'd take Oakland. Take the over.
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