Indianapolis Colts (2-5) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-4)
The Browns and 49ers are both winless at 0-7, but you could make an argument that the Colts are worse than both of them. The Colts have 2 wins, but they both came by just a field goal at home, against the 49ers and Browns, and they’ve lost their other 5 games by a combined 109 points. As a result, they have a point differential of -103, by far the worst in the NFL, behind the Cardinals (-72), the Browns (-66), and the 49ers (-63). They also rank dead last in first down rate differential at -8.08%.
On top of that, they enter this game very banged up, besides the obvious Andrew Luck injury. Already missing their top interior offensive lineman Jack Mewhort for the season, the Colts lost their top defensive back, talented rookie safety Malik Hooker, for the season last week and will also be without cornerback Rashaan Melvin and outside linebacker John Simon for at least this week. Melvin had been their top cornerback, while Simon was an above average starter as well. Missing all of the players they are missing, I have the Colts dead last in my roster rankings.
The Colts are also in a tough spot with a trip to Houston on deck. They will likely be double digit underdogs again in that game and double digit underdogs are 49-79 ATS since 1989 before being double digit underdogs again. The Bengals aren’t in a great spot either though, as they figure to be underdogs in Jacksonville next week. Double digit favorites are just 57-77 ATS since 2002 before being underdogs.
The Bengals are not a great team at 2-4, but they rank 17th in first down rate differential and have been playing better offensively since firing their offensive coordinator after week 2, so they’re a lot better than the Colts. They have major problems on the offensive line, but they have one of the better defenses in the league and should be able to move the ball at least somewhat on this weak Indianapolis defense.
This line is high at -10.5, but the Bengals should be able to cover it. I have this line calculated at about 12.5, so we’re getting some line value with the Bengals. There’s not enough here to bet on Cincinnati confidently, but the Bengals should be the right pick for pick ‘em purposes and they’re a smart survivor pick this week against the worst team in the league.
Cincinnati Bengals 26 Indianapolis Colts 13
Pick against the spread: Cincinnati -10.5