Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts: 2016 Week 17 NFL Pick

Jacksonville Jaguars (3-12) at Indianapolis Colts (7-8)

I really messed up not taking the Jaguars last week. The Jaguars were at the top of my underrated list for most of the second half of the season, but I didn’t want to bet on them last week because they had just fired their head coach and were facing another team on my underrated list, the Tennessee Titans, even though we were getting good line value with the Jaguars as 5.5 point home underdogs in that game. Turns out a coaching change might have been exactly what this team needed as they blew out a good Tennessee team 38-17. Part of that is because of the injury to Marcus Mariota, but the Jaguars were in control of that game long before Tennessee’s quarterback got hurt.

Unfortunately, that win cost us a lot of line value with the Jaguars this week, as the Colts have gone from 7 point favorites on the early line to 4.5 point favorites this week. At 7, this would have been pick of the week material, but about 3 in 10 games are decided by 4 points or fewer so I think the Jaguars are still worth a bet at 4.5. The Jaguars are 3-12, but they are far from the worst team in the league. In addition to 7 of 12 losses coming by less than a touchdown, they’ve been killed by a -16 turnover margin. Fortunately for them, turnover margins are very inconsistent on a week-to-week basis. For that reason, I love to bet on teams that have poor turnover margins, as they tend to be undervalued. In terms of first down rate differential, the Jaguars rank 14th and actually have a +17 first down margin on the season. The Colts, meanwhile, rank 19th in that metric. This should be a closer game than this line suggests.

Indianapolis Colts 23 Jacksonville Jaguars 20

Pick against the spread: Jacksonville +4.5

Confidence: Medium

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

Indianapolis Colts at Oakland Raiders: 2016 Week 16 NFL Pick

Indianapolis Colts (7-7) at Oakland Raiders (11-3)

The Raiders are 11-3, but are not nearly as good as their record suggests, as their record is largely the result of a 5-0 record in games decided by a field goal or less and a league best +15 turnover margin. Turnover margins tend to be very inconsistent on a week-to-week basis, as there’s no week-to-week correlation in turnover margin. Outside of those 15 plays, the Raiders have been a pretty average team this year and they are legitimately a few snaps away from being 8-6, 7-7, or even 6-8. In terms of first down rate differential, they rank just 21st in the league.

The Colts, meanwhile, rank 18th in first down rate, so we’re getting some line value with them as 4 point underdogs, even if it’s not a lot. The Colts are also in a much better spot than Oakland, closing out the season with an easy home game against the Jaguars, while the Raiders finish with a tough divisional matchup in Denver, where they are expected to be underdogs. Favorites are 61-97 ATS since 2012 before being underdogs when their opponent will next be favorites. The Raiders could definitely look past the Colts a little bit, while Indianapolis should be completely focused with no distractions on the horizon. I wish we were getting more than 4 points, but there’s enough here to put money on the Colts. If Oakland wins, it’ll probably be another close one.

Oakland Raiders 24 Indianapolis Colts 23

Pick against the spread: Indianapolis +4

Confidence: Medium

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

Indianapolis Colts at Minnesota Vikings: 2016 Week 15 NFL Pick

Indianapolis Colts (6-7) at Minnesota Vikings (7-6)

Minnesota was dealt a huge blow when they lost safety Harrison Smith for likely the rest of the regular season with an ankle injury. They were impressive in their first game without him last week in Jacksonville, but he’s arguably the best safety in football and the Vikings’ best defensive player, so he’s not an easy player to replace. He’s as important to this defense as Earl Thomas is to the Seahawks, but his injury doesn’t get nearly the attention that Thomas’ did. The good news for the Vikings is they get top offensive lineman Joe Berger back from a 2-game absence with a concussion and Adrian Peterson is expected to return for the first time since week 2 with a torn meniscus, though how effective he’ll be in his first game back is a major question mark.

The Colts, meanwhile, have plenty of injury problems, as has been the case all year. They’re missing 3 starters on the offensive line, including left guard Jack Mewhort, who is probably their best offensive lineman, 2 starters in the secondary (safety Clayton Geathers and cornerback Patrick Robinson), and #2 wide receiver Donte Moncrief. The Vikings have been a little bit better than the Colts all year, entering this game 16th in first down rate differential, while the Colts enter in 23rd, and they are significantly better than them right now given both teams’ injury situations. However, this line is at 5 in favor of the hometown Minnesota Vikings, so there’s not enough for me to be at all confident in Minnesota. This line is right where it should be.

Minnesota Vikings 23 Indianapolis Colts 17

Pick against the spread: Minnesota -5

Confidence: None

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts: 2016 Week 14 NFL Pick

Houston Texans (6-6) at Indianapolis Colts (6-6)

The Colts are coming off of a huge 41-10 win over the Jets in New York on Monday Night Football. Typically, teams carry over strong performances on Monday Night into the following week, as teams are 40-23 ATS since 1989 off of a Monday Night Football win of 21 or more points. However, this line jumped significantly in the past week, from -4 in favor of Indianapolis on the early line last week to now -6.5, following Indianapolis’ huge win. As a result, we’d be getting no line value with the Colts.

With that in mind, I actually like the Texans this week, as they are in their 2nd of two road games. Teams are 140-108 ATS as road underdogs off a road loss since 2008, including 111-74 ATS when it’s their 2nd of 2 road games. This is because teams tend to do better in their 2nd straight road game than their first one, but lines don’t really adjust for this. Teams are 235-252 straight up in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.98 points per game, as opposed to 334-467 straight up in their 1st of one road game since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 3.00 points per game. I’d need at least a touchdown to put money on the Texans, but they’re the pick here.

Indianapolis Colts 24 Houston Texans 20

Pick against the spread: Houston +6.5

Confidence: Low

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

Indianapolis Colts at New York Jets: 2016 Week 13 NFL Pick

Indianapolis Colts (5-6) at New York Jets (3-8)

The Colts get Andrew Luck back from injury this week, but still have major problems on both sides of the ball. Defensively, they struggle against the run and the pass and, on the offensive side of the ball, they’ve had major issues upfront on the offensive line and have struggled to run the football. They’re healthier now than they were earlier in the year, but still rank just 28th in first down rate differential. That’s actually one spot behind the Jets. The Colts might be a little better than that suggests given their injury situation has improved as the season has gone on, but these two teams are much more comparable than this line suggests.

This line has the Jets as 2 point home underdogs, so we’re getting a few points of line value with them. On top of that, the Jets are in good spot, as home underdogs tend to cover off of a loss as home underdogs, going 75-53 ATS since 2002 in that spot. The Colts are also just 20-22 outside of the division since 2013, including just 1-4 ATS as non-divisional road favorites. I would need at least 3 to put any money on the Jets, but I don’t think we’re going to get that. At 2, it’s a low confidence pick. The money line at +110 might be the best bet here.

New York Jets 23 Indianapolis Colts 20 Upset Pick +110

Pick against the spread: NY Jets +2

Confidence: Low

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts: 2016 Week 12 NFL Pick

Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5) at Indianapolis Colts (5-5)

When this line opened at 3 in favor of the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers, I was going to put money on the Colts. The Colts have had great homefield advantage in recent years with Andrew Luck under center, going 23-11 ATS, including 8-1 ATS as home underdogs. I underestimated that fact last week against the Titans. The Steelers, meanwhile, are just 9-22 ATS as non-divisional road favorites in the Mike Tomlin era (since 2007). They’ve already fallen flat in both Miami and Philadelphia this year in that spot.

Fortunately, I didn’t do that, as Andrew Luck apparently started experiencing concussion symptoms after last week’s game and will miss this Thanksgiving game as a result. The line has shifted from 3 to 9.5 to compensate, which is a significant shift, but the dropoff from Luck to backup Scott Tolzien is tremendous. Luck has been one of the best quarterbacks in the league this season, on a team that has major issues defensively, running the ball, and blocking on the offensive line. Meanwhile, Tolzien is one of the worst backup quarterbacks in the league, after spending much of the last two years as the 3rd string quarterback in Green Bay. I’m still taking the Colts for pick ‘em purposes, but I’d need at least 10 to put any money on the Colts this week.

Pittsburgh Steelers 24 Indianapolis Colts 17

Pick against the spread: Indianapolis +9.5

Confidence: Low

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts: 2016 Week 11 NFL Pick

Tennessee Titans (5-5) at Indianapolis Colts (4-5)

The Titans pulled off a huge home upset victory over the Green Bay Packers last week, which shifted this line from 4 in favor of the host Indianapolis Colts on the early line last week down to 3 this week, a significant shift considering about 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal. Typically, I like to fade significant line movements because they tend to be overreactions to a single week of play and I also tend to fade teams coming off of home upset victories, as teams are just 59-79 ATS off of a home victory as underdogs since 2012. However, the Titans have been at the top of my underrated teams list pretty much all season and I think even after last week’s statement victory they remain underrated. Most seem to be attributing Tennessee’s win to Green Bay not being good anymore, but it’s Tennessee’s rise, not Green Bay’s supposed fall that should be the story from that game.

Despite 5-5 record, the Titans enter this game 3rd in first down rate differential. They’ve been competitive in every game and have a +13 point differential on the season, despite being -7 in return touchdown differential. Aside from those 7 plays, they have a +61 point differential (which would be 4th best in the NFL). They have 33 offensive touchdowns on the season, as opposed to 21 allowed by their defense, a +12 differential that is best in the NFL. This line still suggests these two teams are even, but that’s far from the case.

Part of that is because the Colts are overrated. People remember them beating the Packers in Green Bay before their bye, but that was largely because of long returns on special teams. The Packers lost the first down rate battle by 9.50% against the Titans, but won by 5.20% against the Colts. Prior to that, the Colts were blown out at home 31-13 by a Chiefs team that has scored just one offensive touchdown in 2 games since. On the season, despite a few wins, the Colts rank just 29th in first down rate differential, thanks to a defense that is allowing the highest first down rate in the league. Outside of special teams, this hasn’t been a good Indianapolis team this season.

Prior to the Chiefs game, the Colts did beat the Titans 34-26 in Tennessee, but the Titans have still been a lot better on the season. Also, that loss puts the Titans in a good spot here, as divisional road underdogs are 60-32 ATS since 2002 in same season divisional revenge games against an opponent that previously beat them as home favorites. Comparable teams tend to split the season series, even if the road team pulls the upset in the first game. These teams aren’t even comparable, so the Titans should have a great chance of evening the season series. It’s also worth keeping in mind that the Titans don’t really have much of a homefield advantage, so the fact that this is a road game for them isn’t that big of a deal. Since 2010, the Titans have been outscored by 5 points per game on the road and 3 points per game at home, suggesting their homefield advantage has been worth about a point over that time period.

The Titans are also in a much better spot than the Colts because the Colts have to turn around and play Pittsburgh on Thursday Night on Thanksgiving, while the Titans go to Chicago to take on a Bears team that’s been one of the worst in the league this year. The Titans figure to be completely focused to take down an opponent that has caused them a lot of trouble in recent years, while the Colts could get caught looking forward to a tough Thursday Night game. The early line has them as 3 point home underdogs against the Steelers, while the Titans are favored by a point in Chicago. Favorites are 50-82 ATS since 2008 before Thursday Night Football, while underdogs are 92-60 ATS since 2012 before being favorites when their opponent will next be underdogs. If the Colts aren’t focused, they’re going to have a very tough time defeating a team that has significantly outplayed them this season. This is not only my Pick of the Week, but also one of my favorite picks all year.

Tennessee Titans 27 Indianapolis Colts 20 Upset Pick +120

Pick against the spread: Tennessee +3

Confidence: Pick of the Week

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]

[switch_ad_hub]