Free Expert NFL Picks: Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 10/1/2014
Certainly one of the best matchups of Week 5 in the NFL is this game between the Ravens and Colts, and I could easily see these two playing again this winter. I don't expect Baltimore to beat out Cincinnati for the AFC North title but think the Ravens will earn a wild-card spot. Indianapolis trails Houston by a game for the AFC South lead, but it's just a matter of time before the Colts take control of that division.
It's incredibly hard to follow in the footsteps of a legend at quarterback in the NFL. Just ask any Dolphins QB since Dan Marino, for example. Or any Denver quarterback other than Peyton Manning since John Elway retired. However, it can be done, and sometimes the next guy turns out better than the legend. Aaron Rodgers could be better than Brett Favre when all is said and done, at least in terms of Super Bowl wins. Ditto for the Colts' Andrew Luck as he follows in Manning's big footsteps.
Bovada has released updated NFL MVP odds , and Luck is the 5/1 second favorite to Manning (4/1), which I disagree with. Luck leads the NFL in passing yards with 1,305 and touchdown passes with 13. He should be the favorite because the Colts are nothing without him. Manning's numbers are solid but not close to last season. He shouldn't be favored over Luck or even Philip Rivers.
This is the first time the Ravens will face Luck in the regular season. Baltimore beat visiting Indianapolis 24-9 in the wild-card round of the 2012 playoffs, Luck's first postseason game.
Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts Betting Story Lines
The Colts started 0-2, losing at Denver by a touchdown and then essentially getting jobbed by the officials in a 30-27 home loss to the Eagles in Week 2. Since then, Indy has been dominant in wins at Jacksonville and home to Tennessee. The Colts held each of those clubs to 17 points and scored 44 and 41, respectively.
Luck is putting up monster numbers. He completed 79.5 percent of his passes for 370 yards and four touchdowns against the Jaguars and then 70.7 percent for 393 yards, four scores and one pick against the Titans. He is the first player in NFL history to post consecutive games with at least 370 passing, four or more touchdown passes, a completion percentage above 70 percent and one or no interceptions. That's a pretty random stat but impressive. That Luck has at least 370 this week and four TDs is +1500 on Bovada's Week 5 specials.
The Colts are likely going to have to continue to throw to win because they still aren't a good running team, although a bit better than last year. Trent Richardson has shown moderate signs of life, but the real difference in the backfield has been a healthy Ahmad Bradshaw. He is averaging 5.4 yards per carry and is a big threat out of the backfield with four TD catches. Bradshaw, limited to three games last year due to injury, is a nice change of pace from the plodding Richardson.
There is good and bad news for the Colts defense this week. It appears as if linebacker Jerrell Freeman will play for the first time since Week 1. Freeman, the Colts' leading tackler the past two seasons, has missed the past three games with a hamstring injury. However, starting safety LaRon Landry was suspended four games for violating the league's policy against performance enhancing drugs.
Baltimore, which ranks 24th in passing yards allowed (260.3 per game), has won three straight since a 23-16 home loss to Cincinnati in Week 1. And the Ravens could have won that game. Last week in the Steve Smith Payback Game, Baltimore crushed visiting Carolina 38-10. Smith was brilliant with seven catches for 139 yards and two scores against the team that cut him this past offseason. He is third in the NFL with 429 yards receiving. That's the most yardage by any player in his first four games with a team after debuting with that club at the age of 35 or older. Another random but interesting statistic. Ravens QB Joe Flacco was terrible in 2013 but has bounced back nicely thus far, completing 63.4 percent of his passes for 1,055 yards, seven scores and two interceptions.
Baltimore is a Top-10 rushing offense despite playing musical chairs in the backfield with the Ray Rice suspension and injuries/ineffectiveness of No. 2 Bernard Pierce. It's Justin Forsett's job now. He's averaging 5.8 yards on his 44 carries. He's the only Ravens running back to gain at least 70 total yards in every game this season. Pierce hasn't played in the past two games but probably could have against Carolina. He should this week.
Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts NFL Week 5 Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , the Colts opened as 3.5-point favorites (-105) and -185 on the moneyline. The total is set at 48. The spread has generally moved a half point toward Indy, and the total has risen as much as 1.5 points at some books. Baltimore is 2-1-1 against the spread (0-0-1 on the road) and 2-2 "over/under" (1-0 on the road). Indianapolis is 3-1 ATS (1-1 at home) and 4-0 O/U (2-0 at home).
The Ravens are 1-7 ATS in their past eight October games. The Colts are 4-0 ATS in their past four at home vs. teams with a winning record. Indy has covered its past six following a win of more than 14 points. The under is 6-2 in Baltimore's past eight following a win. The over is 8-1 in the Colts' past nine against teams with a winning record. The Ravens have covered just one of the past nine meetings, but those were basically against Manning.
Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts NFL Picks and Expert Betting Predictions
This game is hard to read because Indy has fattened up on two bad teams the past two weeks. Baltimore has played well in its three home games but was lucky to win at Cleveland in Week 3 in its only road affair. I will say that the Colts will not score in the 40s again or hold Baltimore to exactly 17. I like the over 48 points, and I'm going with Indy at home but taking the alternate line of -3 at -130. I'd obviously prefer 2.5, but that's not an option as of this writing.
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