Indianapolis Colts at Los Angeles Rams: 2017 Week 1 NFL Pick

Indianapolis Colts (0-0) at Los Angeles Rams (0-0)

I thought about taking the Rams as 3.5 point home underdogs in this game in early August because I was concerned about Andrew Luck’s early season availability and I am kicking myself that I didn’t, now that Luck has been ruled out for at least the first week of the season, as he recovers from off-season shoulder surgery. Luck’s injury shifted this line in a big way, as the Rams are now favored by 4.5 points at home. That’s more points than they’re projected to be favored by all season, suggesting the oddsmakers see the Colts without Andrew Luck as being even worse than the 49ers, who are projected as 3.5 point underdogs in their week 17 trip to Los Angeles.

The Colts are certainly up there (or down there) with the worst teams in the league without Luck, not just because they have a weak supporting cast, but because the dropoff from Luck to journeyman backup Scott Tolzien is one of the biggest starter to backup quarterback dropoffs in the league. The Colts also aren’t just missing Luck, as they also start the season without center Ryan Kelly, top cornerback Vontae Davis, and safety/linebacker Clayton Geathers. However, the Rams have a huge absence that doesn’t seem to be getting enough attention, as defensive tackle Aaron Donald, arguably the best defensive player in the league, is still holding out for a better contract and will not play this week, significantly hurting this defense.

Even with a new offensive coaching staff, a new #1 wide receiver (Sammy Watkins), and a new left tackle (Andrew Whitworth), the Rams’ offense should still struggle this season, unless Jared Goff can take a huge leap forward from last season, so the Rams need Donald on that defensive line if they are going to be competitive this season. Maybe outside of the Jets, it’s hard to justify the Rams without Donald being favored by 4.5 points over anyone, especially considering about 30% of games are decided by 4 points or fewer. I wouldn’t be confident in Indianapolis at all, but they’re the better choice here in against the spread pick ‘em leagues.

Los Angeles Rams 17 Indianapolis Colts 13

Pick against the spread: Indianapolis +4.5

Confidence: None

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