2018 Indianapolis Colts Road Schedule Odds with Expert Picks and Predictions
The Indianapolis Colts could really use some positive news this season.
Of course, there was the whole saga of franchise quarterback Andrew Luck last season. Owner Jim Irsay kept promising during the offseason that Luck would be ready for training camp off January shoulder surgery. He wasn't. Irsay kept assuring reporters and Colts fans that Luck would be ready for Week 1. He wasn't. Irsay said Luck was progressing well and would play in 2017. He didn't. Indy won 11 games and reached the playoffs in each of Luck's first three seasons. Not a coincidence he played all 16 regular-season games in each.
Luck managed only seven games in 2015, 15 in 2016 (but really was hampered in several others) and then zero last year. The Colts won eight, eight and four games. Supposedly, Luck is truly healthy and pain-free this time, but I personally wouldn't bet any Colts futures until you see him on the field - reports are he will play in the preseason opener (believe it when I see it).
Meanwhile, Indy had lured in-demand Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels back in January to be their head coach, replacing the fired Chuck Pagano. Except, NFL rules prohibit a coach hiring while said coach's current team is still in the playoffs. Obviously, the Patriots made the Super Bowl again and McDaniels either got cold feet or a sweet deal from owner Bob Kraft (i.e. to replace Bill Belichick in a couple of years) and left the Colts at the altar the night before a press conference was to be called to officially announce things (team had already tweeted out details).
The league proposed a "Josh McDaniels rule" this offseason where teams could officially hire coaches on playoff teams, but it was tabled. Oddly, even Colts GM Chris Ballard was against the rule. Most of the top candidates were off the market by the time Indy got egg off its face, although the team seems to have done well by hiring Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich as HC. It honestly doesn't matter who the team's coach is if Luck isn't 100 percent. For the purposes of this story, I'll assume he will be.
The Colts were 1-7 on the road last year, 3-5 against the spread and 4-4 "over/under." Indianapolis travels to four playoff teams from 2017: Philadelphia, New England, Jacksonville and Tennessee. It might be the toughest road slate in the NFL and is miles harder than the home version. I project a 2-6 road mark. Odds listed for the home team.
Sept. 16 at Redskins (-3): Seems like forever ago, but Luck and new Redskins QB Alex Smith had a shootout for the ages in the Colts' 45-44 wild-card win over Kansas City following the 2013 season. The Colts are 20-12 all-time in this series and 6-8 on the road. Key trend: Colts 6-4 ATS in past 10 at AFC East foes.
Sept. 23 at Eagles (-10): A homecoming for Reich, although he never did call the plays as the Philly OC - head coach Doug Pederson did. Indianapolis is 5-5 all-time in Philadelphia, losing there the last meeting in 2010. Key trend: Colts 4-6 ATS in past 10 as a double-digit September dog (last 2013).
Oct. 4 at Patriots (-10.5): Thursday night. Back-to-back road games against the two Super Bowl teams. Not long ago, it looked like Luck vs. Tom Brady might be the AFC's next great QB rivalry after the teams met in the infamous Deflategate AFC title game following the 2014 season. It's the Colts' first visit to Foxboro since then. Then you have the whole McDaniels thing. These franchises just hate each other. Indy is 0-5, including playoffs, in this series since drafting Luck. Key trend: Colts 4-5-1 ATS in past 10 as a dog in New England (including playoffs).
Oct. 14 at Jets (-1.5): They gave the Colts a sweetheart deal to swap first-round picks in this year's draft, with New York taking Sam Darnold at No. 3 overall and the Colts guard Quenton Nelson at No. 6. Will Darnold be starting by this point? Nelson will start from Day 1. The Colts are 22-14 all-time at the Jets. Key trend: Colts 6-4 ATS in past 10 as a road dog of 2 points or fewer.
Oct. 28 at Raiders (-6): Indy ahead of its bye and it's the only game on the entire schedule in the 4 p.m. ET window. Could be Colts' final trip ever to Oakland with the move to Las Vegas on the horizon. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr broke his leg while being taken down by former Colts linebacker Trent Cole in December 2016, and that ended Oakland's Super Bowl chances that year. Key trend: Colts 2-4-1 ATS in Oakland.
Dec. 2 at Jaguars (-7.5): Colts off a three-game homestand. My how times have changed since the last time Luck was healthy. Now it's the Jags who are the AFC South kings and the Colts at the bottom. Indy has dropped its past three in Jacksonville. It was 30-10 last year. Key trend: Colts 0-3 ATS as a dog in Jacksonville.
Dec. 9 at Texans (-7.5): Maybe Luck vs. Deshaun Watson will become one of the AFC's better QB rivalries. Indy is 11-5 all-time at the Texans and won there 20-14 in Week 9 last year. Watson had been lost for the season by then. T.Y. Hilton had 175 yards receiving with two touchdowns. That guy owns the Texans. Key trend: Colts 2-2-1 ATS as road dog in series.
Dec. 30 at Titans (TBA): Per usual, no Week 17 lines. Indy is 13-8 all-time at the Titans/Oilers. The Colts lost there in Week 6 last year, 36-22. That ended Tennessee's 11-game losing streak in the series. Key trend: Colts 5-5 ATS in past 10 at Titans.
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