Green Bay Packers (2-2) at Indianapolis Colts (1-2)
Obviously, I can’t do this write up without talking about Chuck Pagano. You’ve probably heard the news, but if you haven’t, Pagano, an 11 year NFL assistant who got his first Head Coaching job this offseason as Head Coach of the Colts, was unfortunately diagnosed with a treatable form of leukemia earlier this week, a few days before he celebrated his 52nd birthday on October 2nd. He has left the team in order to undergo treatment, including chemotherapy, and will hopefully make a speedy recovery. In his absence, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians will be interim Head Coach. This is obviously a very unfortunately situation and one that will impact this team.
Earlier this week, I was torn on how it would impact them. They could have come out totally unprepared and get blown out or they could have come out and had the game of their lives in his honor. However, now I really am leaning towards the latter. They’re coming off a bye, so they’ve had two weeks to prepare for this game, plus the loss of Pagano as Head Coach is not as important as say losing Sean Payton. Pagano has been Head Coach of this team for 3 games and Arians calls the plays anyway. I think it’s much more likely this will have a positive effect on this team than a negative one, at least this week.
Speaking of that bye week, it couldn’t have come at a better time for the Colts. The Colts, one of my preseason underrated teams, really looked underwhelming before the bye, getting blown out by Chicago, barely beating Minnesota (although Minnesota has looked good, so maybe that is an impressive win), and then losing at home to Jacksonville in an absolutely abysmal defensive effort.
Injuries were a huge part of that, especially defensively, with cornerback Vontae Davis, rush linebacker Dwight Freeney, and middle linebacker Pat Angerer all being out before the bye. On a defense that lacked talent to begin with, that really hurt and the bye seems to have given them much needed rest. Freeney and Angerer are expected back, while Davis looks questionable after sitting out practice on Wednesday. With that trio back, or even just two-thids, they should be able to put up somewhat of a fight defensively and on the offensive side of the ball, don’t forget about Andrew Luck, who was looked like the real deal this year.
In spite of all of their injuries, the Colts rank just 24th in yards per play differential, which isn’t horrendous. That’s only .5 yards per play worse than the Packers, who seem to be out of sync this year. When their defensive effort is good, their offense is off and vice versa. An old gambling formula says divide the differential by .15 and add 3 points either way for home field to get the “real line”. That formula says this line should be -.5 in favor of the Packers, so we have a full 7 points of line value with the Colts. In spite of that, there’s a big public lean on the Colts and I love to bet against the public, especially on big leans.
Keep in mind, that “real line” is before you consider that the Colts are getting healthier. You can argue that the Packers are better than their yards per play differential would suggest, but either way, you’re going to find there’s some line value with the Colts. Green Bay would have to be a whole 1 yard per play better than where they’re at now for this line to be valid and that would tie them for 2nd with Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Dallas, and that’s before injury situation consideration. On top of that, home dogs of 7+ are 98-78 ATS since 2002. As long as I get touchdown protection, this is a significant bet on the Colts.
Public lean: Green Bay (new thing I’m adding, siding with the odds makers on bets is not a bad thing to do since they make so much money, so I’m listing this here to allow readers to “fade” the public, if they so choose, in this example, the odds makers win if Indianapolis covers)
Sharps lean: GB 10 IND 5
Final update: Dropping a unit. The sharps don’t seem to like Indianapolis at all and Angerer and Davis will both miss this one and Dwight Freeney will be limited. Greg Jennings is out for Green Bay though.
Green Bay Packers 31 Indianapolis Colts 27
Pick against spread: Indianapolis +7 (-105) 2 units