Indianapolis Colts at Dallas Cowboys: 2022 Week 13 NFL Pick

Indianapolis Colts (4-7-1) at Dallas Cowboys (8-3)

This is one of my lowest confidence picks of the week. This line is at Dallas -10.5, which is right where my calculated line has it, favoring the Colts just slightly against the spread at this number, and there also aren’t any situational trends affecting either side. I’m taking the Colts purely for pick ‘em purposes, hoping they can at least get a backdoor cover against a big spread, but I can’t be at all confident in either side in this one.

Dallas Cowboys 23 Indianapolis Colts 13

Pick against the spread: Indianapolis +10.5

Confidence: None

Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts: 2022 Week 12 NFL Pick

Pittsburgh Steelers (3-7) at Indianapolis Colts (4-6-1)

A week ago on the early line, the Steelers were 3-point underdogs, but this line has since shifted to 2.5, a pretty significant shift, given that about 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal. Normally I like to go against significant week-to-week line movements like that because they tend to be an overreaction to a single week of play, but, in this case, I’m disappointed that we’ve lost line value with the Steelers, who would have been a good bet at +3.

The Steelers are just 3-7, but they’ve arguably faced the toughest schedule in the league, with eight of their ten games being against teams that are currently .500 or better, with the exceptions being the Browns and Saints, who are both better than their records would indicate. The Steelers’ -74 point differential is worst in the league and even worse than their record would suggest, but in terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, which takes into account their level of competition, the Steelers rank 18th, despite the fact that for most of the season they have been without their top defensive player TJ Watt, who has since returned.

It’s very possible that this matchup in Indianapolis against the Colts will be the Steelers’ easiest game of the season thus far. The Colts rank 24th and three points below average in terms of schedule adjusted efficiency (significantly worse than both the Browns and the Saints) and they are unlikely to be any better than that going forward, missing a pair of key defenders, Kwity Pawe and Shaq Leonard, for an indefinite period of time. 

Despite that, this line suggests these two teams are about even, so we’re getting good line value with the Steelers, who I have calculated as 1-point favorites. I think I would need this line to go back up to three for the Steelers to be worth betting against the spread, but I might change my mind on that, the money line is a good value at +120 because the Steelers should be considered no worse than 50/50 to win this game, and the Steelers should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes either way.

Pittsburgh Steelers 19 Indianapolis Colts 17 Upset Pick +120

Pick against the spread: Pittsburgh +2.5

Confidence: Low

Philadelphia Eagles at Indianapolis Colts: 2022 Week 11 NFL Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (8-1) at Indianapolis Colts (4-5-1)

The Eagles lost their first game of the season last week at home against the Washington Commanders, but that was primarily because the Commanders converted 13 of 22 on third and fourth downs and won the turnover battle by two, allowing Washington to win despite losing the first down rate battle by 8.09% and the yards per play battle by 1.54. Losses like that tend to be a complete fluke, as first downs and yards tend to be much more predictive than turnover margins and third and fourth downs. 

Even after losing the turnover battle last week, the Eagles still lead the league in turnover margin, having a +15 turnover margin across their 8-0 start, and, while turnover margin isn’t predictive, the Eagles also rank 4th in schedule adjusted efficiency, which is much more predictive, and they rank even higher in my roster rankings, which they lead, in part due to the fact that they are one of the healthiest teams in the league. They also have history on their side, as teams tend to bounce back in a big way after a big upset loss like the Eagles had last week (11-point favorites), with teams covering at a 57.7% rate after a loss as favorites of 10 points or more.

The Eagles’ loss last week moved this line from favoring the Eagles by 9.5 to favoring them by 6.5, a big swing, and one that was not justified, as my calculated line still has the Eagles favored by 9.5 points, even before taking into account that they’re in a great spot to bounce back after getting upset last week. The Colts pulled the upset in Las Vegas last week, but they still rank just 24th in schedule adjusted efficiency, about 3.5 points below average, and I’m still skeptical of interim head coach Jeff Saturday long-term. The Colts could also be without starting right tackle Braden Smith after he tweaked his back in practice on Friday and my calculated line would increase if he didn’t play, as he’s arguably their best offensive lineman. There isn’t another game I like more than this one this week, so I’m locking in the Eagles at -6.5 as my Pick of the Week.

Philadelphia Eagles 27 Indianapolis Colts 16

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia -6.5

Confidence: Pick of the Week

Indianapolis Colts at Las Vegas Raiders: 2022 Week 10 NFL Pick

Indianapolis Colts (3-5-1) at Las Vegas Raiders (2-6)

The Colts have had a disastrous season. Their offense has been horrible (26th in offensive schedule adjusted efficiency) and attempts to improve it, by benching veteran quarterback Matt Ryan for unproven 2021 6th round pick Sam Ehlinger and by firing offensive coordinator Marcus Brady, have arguably made it worse, culminating in a 2.0 yards per play performance in New England last week, which ultimately lost head coach Frank Reich his job. 

Making matters even worse, instead of promoting an interim head coach from the inside, the Colts pulled a wild card and hired former center Jeff Saturday, who has never coached above the high school level and who has not been in this locker room all season, leaving them in a precarious coaching situation at say the least, without experienced coordinators either, with Marcus Brady being fired last week and long-time defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus not really being replaced this off-season. 

The Colts are also without top linebacker Shaq Leonard, likely for the season, although he’s barely played anyway this season and the Colts still rank 12th in defensive schedule adjusted efficiency, the only reason they have managed to win three games this season. With Ehlinger remaining under center and no offensive leadership though, their offense is likely going to be too much for their defense to overcome going forward, especially without Leonard.

The Raiders have also had a disastrous season, starting 2-6, despite making the playoffs a year ago and having expectations of going on a deeper run this year, after trading away their first two draft picks for Davante Adams. The Raiders aren’t getting blown out for the most part though, with five of their six losses coming by seven points or fewer and both of their wins coming by multiple scores. Overall, they have a -18 point differential, while ranking 21st in schedule adjusted overall efficiency, 1.5 points below average, which is disappointing, but nearly as bad as the Colts, who are 3.5 points below average.

The injuries are starting to pile up, with talented slot receiver Hunter Renfrow, talented tight end Darren Waller, and top cornerback Nate Hobbs among other absences, but they are still only 2 points below average in my roster rankings, as opposed to 6 points below average for the Colts. My calculated line is Las Vegas -5, so we’re getting some line value with them as 4.5-point favorites, especially once you factor in the disarray around the Colts coaching staff. There isn’t enough here for the Raiders to be worth betting, but this should be a relatively easy win for them, like their multi-score wins over the Broncos and Texans.

Las Vegas Raiders 24 Indianapolis Colts 17

Pick against the spread: Las Vegas -4.5

Confidence: Low

Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots: 2022 Week 9 NFL Pick

Indianapolis Colts (3-4-1) at New England Patriots (4-4)

The Patriots have struggled on offense this season, ranking 28th in schedule adjusted efficiency, but they’re at least somewhat better in my roster rankings, about a half point below average on offense, while their defense and special teams rank 11th and 7th respectively in schedule adjusted efficiency. Overall, the Patriots are two points above average in my roster rankings, significantly ahead of the Colts, who are seven points below average, in large part due to starting an inexperienced late round draft pick quarterback Sam Ehlinger, which will especially be a problem against Bill Belichick and the Patriots, who will have a big advantage in Ehlinger’s second career start. We’re not getting great line value with the Patriots at -5.5, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes.

New England Patriots 20 Indianapolis Colts 13

Pick against the spread: New England -5.5

Confidence: Low

Washington Commanders at Indianapolis Colts: 2022 Week 8 NFL Pick

Washington Commanders (3-4) at Indianapolis Colts (3-3-1)

Both of these teams acquired veteran quarterbacks this off-season, with the Commanders taking Carson Wentz off the Colts hands so they could replace him with ex-Falcon Matt Ryan, but neither quarterback will play in this game, with Wentz injured and Ryan getting benched for young, inexperienced backup Sam Ehlinger. Wentz’ replacement Taylor Heinicke isn’t a significant drop off though, while Ehlinger has no regular season experience and should be considered the more questionable quarterback. Despite that, the Colts are favored by a full field goal at home. My calculated line has the Colts as 2-point favorites, so we’re getting some line value with the Commanders, although not nearly enough to justify a bet. The Commanders should be the right side, but for pick ‘em purposes only.

Indianapolis Colts 20 Washington Commanders 19

Pick against the spread: Washington +3

Confidence: Low

Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans: 2022 Week 7 NFL Pick

Indianapolis Colts (3-2-1) at Tennessee Titans (3-2)

When these two teams met for the first time this season back in week 4, the Titans pulled the road upset by a final score of 24-17. With this rematch being in Tennessee, many are assuming that the Titans will have an easier time winning than they did in Indianapolis, but that’s not how divisional rivalries tend to go. In fact, when a team pulls a road upset against a divisional opponent and then is favored at home in a same season, regular season rematch, they only win the game about 59.3% of the time. 

That might sound like a lot, but it’s not when you compare it to divisional home favorites in all situations, who win the game about 68.1% of the time. On top of that, divisional home favorites facing teams they already beat that season as road underdogs tend to struggle to cover the spread in the rematch, doing so at just a 42.6% rate. In the first matchup between these two teams, the Colts were the ones in a bad spot, having just pulled a huge home upset over the Chiefs the week prior (teams cover the spread at just a 41.3% rate after a home upset win as underdogs of 5 points or more), but this time around the Titans are more likely to be flat.

On top of that, the way the Titans’ won the previous game between these two teams was somewhat fluky, as the Titans won the turnover battle by three, which is not predictive week-to-week. In terms of first down rate and yards per play, which are significantly more predictive, the Titans had the slight edge in first down rate (1.12%), but were outgained by over a yard per play (1.13). The Colts also have the significant edge in schedule adjusted efficiency, which is based on yards per play and first down rate, ranking six points ahead of the Titans. 

My roster rankings have these two teams closer than that, but the Colts still have a 1.5 point edge, so they should be considered the better team however you look at it. Despite being the better team in the better spot, the Colts are 2.5-point road underdogs in Tennessee, suggesting these two teams are about even. My calculated line is Indianapolis -1, even before you take into account the Colts being in a better spot, so the Colts should be the ones slightly favored in this game, rather than the Titans. I wish we were getting a full field goal with the Colts, but they’re still worth a small bet at +2.5 and the money line is a good value as well, as the Colts should be considered no worse than 50/50 to win this rematch.

Indianapolis Colts 20 Tennessee Titans 17 Upset Pick +120

Pick against the spread: Tennessee +2.5

Confidence: Medium

Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts: 2022 Week 6 NFL Pick

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-3) at Indianapolis Colts (2-2-1)

The Jaguars have a significantly better point differential than the Colts (+31 vs. -25) and won the first matchup between these two teams earlier this season in convincing fashion (24-0), but a lot of the gap between these two teams has been because of turnovers, which are not that predictive week-to-week. On the season, the Colts are -6 in turnover margin, as opposed to +1 for the Jaguars, and the Jaguars won the turnover battle in the first matchup by 3. That game was also in Jacksonville and the Colts were missing their two best wide receivers Michael Pittman and Alec Pierce, who will be active for this rematch in Indianapolis.

My roster rankings have these two teams about even, which unfortunately doesn’t give us any line value, with the Colts being favored by 2 points at home, about where my calculated line would be. I am taking the Colts for pick ‘em purposes for now, just because I think the home team winning by a field goal is the most likely outcome, but there is some uncertainty over the status of Colts star running back Jonathan Taylor, who missed last week and was limited in practice this week. I am expecting him to play, but, if he doesn’t, I would change this pick to the Jaguars, for a no confidence pick either way.

Update: Taylor is out, so I am changing to a no confidence pick on the Jaguars instead.

Indianapolis Colts 17 Jacksonville Jaguars 16

Pick against the spread: Jacksonville +2

Confidence: None

Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos: 2022 Week 5 NFL Pick

Indianapolis Colts (1-2-1) at Denver Broncos (2-2)

Normally I like to take non-divisional home favorites on Thursdays, as teams tend to be at a serious disadvantage if they have to travel on the road to face a non-divisional opponent that is comparable to or better than them. As a result, non-divisional home favorites cover at a 64.2% rate on Thursday Night Football, including 65.1% when favored by more than a field goal. Unfortunately, we’re getting line value with the visitor in this game, which offsets that. This line favored the Broncos by just 2.5 points on the early line last week, but that has since shifted to 3.5, a bigger shift than you might think, given that 1 out of 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal.

The shift is probably because the Colts because to the Titans and had two of their most important players get injured, with every down linebacker Shaq Leonard out and feature back Jonathan Taylor questionable, but Leonard has been out for most of the season anyway and Taylor seems more likely than not to suit up, even if he’s not at full strength. The Broncos also had key players go down with injury last week, losing feature back Javonte Williams and top edge defender Randy Gregory, a big loss for a Broncos team that had already gotten off to an underwhelming start to the season.

The Broncos are 2-2, but they’ve faced one of the easiest schedules in the league and have especially struggled on offense, ranking 31st in first down rate, a concern because offensive performance tends to be significantly more predictive than defensive or special teams performance. Their offense could get better going forward as new quarterback Russell Wilson and new offensive minded head coach Nathaniel Hackett develop better chemistry, but the loss of Williams on an already injury plagued offensive unit doesn’t help matters.

In terms of overall schedule adjusted efficiency, which weights offense more heavily and takes into account strength of schedule, the Broncos enter this game ranked 31st in the NFL, 6.5 points below average, significantly behind the Colts, who rank a middling 17th. We’re only four games into the season, which is a small sample size, and my roster rankings have a much smaller gap between these two teams, giving the Colts a one point edge, but it’s hard to see how the Broncos deserve to be 3.5-point favorites, even in a good spot on a short week and even if Jonathan Taylor ends up not playing for the Colts. The Colts aren’t bettable this week, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes at +3.5, though I would drop all confidence on them if Taylor ultimately did get ruled out.

Update: Taylor has been ruled out, despite saying earlier this week that he expected to play. I’m still on the Colts, but for no confidence. These two teams are about even with the Colts missing Taylor, so in a normal circumstance, the +3.5 would still be intriguing, but this is also a tough spot for the Colts on a short week.

Denver Broncos 23 Indianapolis Colts 20

Pick against the spread: Indianapolis +3.5

Confidence: None

Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts: 2022 Week 4 NFL Pick

Tennessee Titans (1-2) at Indianapolis Colts (1-1-1)

The Colts surprisingly got their first victory of the season last week in an upset win over the Chiefs, but the Chiefs missed a makeable field goal and extra point in the 3-point loss, so the Chiefs easily could have won, even though they lost the turnover battle. In terms of first down rate and yards per play, the Colts lost by 5.50% and 1.50 and those are much more predictive week-to-week than turnovers and opponents’ missed kicks. 

That win also puts the Colts in a tough spot this week, as teams tend to struggle off of big home upset wins, covering the spread at just a 41.5% rate all-time the week after a home win as underdogs of 5 points or more. Making matters even worse for the Colts, they have to play another game against the Broncos in four days and favorites cover at just a 42.9% rate before Thursday Night Football. It wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see the Colts overlook the 1-2 Titans a little bit in this spot.

That being said, I am not going to bet on the Titans this week because of all of their injuries. Already without talented left tackle Taylor Lewan and top edge defender Harold Landry for the season, the Titans will also be without top linebacker Zach Cunningham and talented starting safety Amani Hooker in this game, while the Colts could get back stud linebacker Shaq Leonard for the first time this season, which would be a huge re-addition.

I’m still taking the Titans because I think this line is fair, favoring the Colts by 3.5 points, a bigger line than you might think, given that 1 in 4 games are decided by 3 points or fewer, and because the Colts are in such a bad spot. However, the only way I would bet on the Titans is if not only Leonard didn’t play for the Colts, but also stud interior defender DeForest Buckner, who is considered a gametime decision. If they’re both out and this line stays above three, I would probably bet on the Titans, but, unless that happens, this pick is for pick ‘em purposes only.

Indianapolis Colts 23 Tennessee Titans 20

Pick against the spread: Tennessee +3.5

Confidence: Low