4:25 PM EST
Packers +2 over Colts
Here is a quote from my anti-Colts writeup for Week 9 in their game versus the Ravens:
“The Colts are 5-2 but they have faced the single weakest schedule in the NFL through the first half of the season. They played the 1-6 Jags (who they lost to Week 1), the 2-5 Vikings (when Minnesota’s defense was depleted), the 0-8 Jets, the 2-4-1 Bengals and the 3-4 Lions. The one game they played a team with a winning record (outside of the Bears who are frauds) they were annihilated by the Browns. The Ravens will be by far the best team the Colts have faced all season and there is a reason oddsmakers opened the Ravens as a four point road favorite.”
The Colts went on to lose that game 24-10, a final score which wasn’t even really indicative of how lopsided that game was. The Packers will be by far and away the second best team the Colts have faced this year, and there is once again a reason why the oddsmakers opened the Colts a 2.5 point home dog before the market bet the Colts heavily to move this line across zero making the Colts a small favorite.
The reason why the Colts took so much money this week is twofold. First, the Colts defensive statistical profile looks extremely impressive, at least on paper. They are allowing a league-best 290.4 total yards per game and are the #4 ranked scoring defense allowing only 19.7 points per game, only behind the Ravens, Rams, and Steelers. On surface level it looks impressive until you look and see they haven’t played anyone. The Jags, Jets, and Bears are the three worst offenses in the league. They played the Vikings early in the season when their offensive line was still in shambles and played the Lions when Matthew Stafford couldn’t practice all week and they were short handed at receiver. They have only faced one QB who is ranked Top 10 in QBR (Tannehill) and that game was close before the Titans melted down on special teams and gift wrapped the Colts 17 points which sealed that game. The other reason why the Colts are a popular bet this week is because the last time the Packers were on the road against a top rated defense, they were humiliated by the Bucs on national TV, losing by 28 points.
However, there is no comparison between the Bucs D and the Colts D, at least strength of schedule wise. One is a legitimate battle tested bunch, the other has inflated stats after feasting on the weak. The few times the Colts did face a quality offense, they didn’t put up much resistance. They were gashed by the Browns in a blowout loss, Joe Burrow threw for 313 yards against them in his fourth ever career road start, and Lamar Jackson had enough success moving the ball on them to win by two touchdowns. Despite starting the season 6-3, their six victories have come against teams that have a combined record of 21-33 with a point differential of -246, even if you throw out the putrid Jets that is still the easiest strength of schedule. I’m not saying this defense sucks — it is just very overrated, they are good, not elite.
The Colts haven’t seen a truly elite offense all season but they are about to see one today now that the Packers are finally back to full strength. Devonte Adams had an ankle injury but he has been cleared to play, as was WR Allen Lazard who is fresh off the IR and All-Pro LT David Bakhtiar returned last week. The Packers under LeFleuer have been great in the road underdog role, 5-1 ATS with the sole blemish coming against the eventual NFC Champion 49ers who owned them last season. The Packers did look lethargic last week against the Jaguars, but they knew that even at 75% effort they would be able to easily dispatch them which they ended up doing. Despite all the injuries Green Bay had this year, their offense still #6 in yards and #2 in points in the NFL.
Unbelievably, Aaron Rodgers has at least 280 passing yards and three touchdowns in each of the past four weeks and he will have time in the pocket this Sunday to help him continue that streak. On the flip side, Rivers is at his worst when he is pressured and even though he has great protection behind the league’s best offensive line, the Green Bay front seven will be running their exotic blitzes all game. Jaire Alexander is back this week which is a huge addition to Green Bay’s defense as he has been #1 rated cornerback on the season when he was healthy. The Colts offense has struggled scoring against teams with good secondaries (19 points vs. Bears, 10 points vs. Ravens) and they will be facing another top rated one here. The Packers will be able to put up points on the scoreboard and I just do not trust Phillip Rivers to play mistake free and be able to keep pace if this turns into a higher scoring affair. I have this power rated as Packers -3, wrong team favored here plain and simple. We will take the generous +2 just in case something whacky happens (see Bills/Cards last week), but I doubt the points come into play, Green Bay wins outright. Take the Packers.