Thursday Night Football: Indianapolis Colts (1-2-1) at Denver Broncos (2-1)
Opening Spread: Broncos -3.5.
Opening Game Total: 43.5.
Opening Team Totals: Broncos (23.5), Colts (20).
Weather: Outdoors, no current concerns.
The Line Report
- This line opened between Broncos -3 and Broncos -3.5.
- This line is at Broncos -3.5 as of early Wednesday afternoon.
- DraftKings Pick’Em has the Broncos -3.5.
- Circa Sports Millions Pro Football Contest releases its lines Thursday afternoon.
- This total opened between 43 and 43.5 points.
- This total has moved slightly down to 42.5 points as of early Wednesday afternoon.
Broncos: IR: RB Javonte Williams, Edge Randy Gregory, S Justin Simmons. Questionable: QB Russell Wilson, RB Melvin Gordon III, RG Quinn Meinerz, RT Billy Turner, S Caden Sterns.
Colts: Out: RB Jonathan Taylor, LB Shaquille Leonard. Questionable: S Julian Blackmon.
The Broncos Offense vs. the Colts Defense
Indianapolis’ front-four has underwhelmed this season. On opening day, I would’ve said the Colts had an advantage in the trenches. As it stands now, I’m treating this as a draw with the Colts on the road on a short week. Wilson’s ability to extend plays could create some trouble for the Colts’ defense. If the Broncos RG and RT miss this contest, it will give the Colts’ talented but underachieving front an advantage.
- The Broncos are 1-3 against the spread this season.
- The Broncos are 1-3 on overs this season.
- Denver has scored 16.5 points per game, which is 30th in the league.
- The Broncos have four giveaways, tied for fifth-best in the league.
- Per TruMedia, Wilson is 16th in yards passing and 14th in yards per attempt.
- Through four games, Williams had 133 snaps, 47 carries, four red zone carries and 22 targets (12 on opening day in Seattle).
- Melvin Gordon has had 83 snaps, 37 carries, four red zone carries and 10 targets during that span.
- With Williams out for the year, we can expect Gordon’s role to increase while Mike Boone backs up Gordon. Newly signed veteran Latavius Murray figures to factor in more when he gets acclimated to the offense.
- Courtland Sutton has recorded 24 receptions, 35 targets, 343 yards receiving, 27.8% target share, 39.8% air yards share and five endzone targets. Sutton has played 191 of his 222 snaps on the perimeter.
- Jerry Jeudy has recorded 11 receptions, 21 targets, 183 yards receiving, 16.7% target share, 23.3% air yards share and one endzone target. Jeudy has played 91 snaps in the slot and 58 on the perimeter.
- Eric Saubert and Eric Tomlinson have out-snapped Albert Okwuegbunam during the past two weeks. Okwuegbunam played just one snap in Week 4.
- Indianapolis has allowed 21.3 points per game, which is the 13th-best in the league.
- Per The Edge, the Colts have allowed the 10th fewest yards passing and the sixth-fewest yards rushing.
- The Colts have allowed the seventh-fewest yards rushing and the eighth most yards receiving to running backs this season.
- Indianapolis has allowed the fewest yards receiving on the third-fewest receptions to wide receivers this season.
- The Colts have surrendered the ninth-most yards receiving on the seventh-most receptions to tight ends this season.
The Colts Offense vs. Broncos Defense
Denver’s pass rush took a significant hit with the loss of Gregory. If Gregory was healthy, Denver would have an advantage in the trenches, but without him, it’s a stalemate.
- The Colts are 1-3 against the spread this season.
- The Colts are 0-4 on overs this season.
- Indianapolis has scored 14.3 points per game, which is last in the league.
- The Colts have nine giveaways, tied for the second most in the league.
- Per TruMedia, Matt Ryan is fourth in the league in yards passing and 17th in yards per attempt.
- This season, Ryan has thrown five interceptions. He’s also taken 15 sacks and fumbled a shocking nine times.
- Taylor will miss this contest, but he’s third among running backs in snaps (211), carries (81) and he’s tied for fifth in red zone carries (13). He’s also sixth in yards rushing (328) with a 10.7% target share on 16 targets.
- Despite playing alongside Taylor, Nyheim Hines is ninth among running backs with 19 targets for a 12.7% target share. Hines could conceivably approach 10 targets in this matchup with Taylor sidelined.
- Despite missing a game, Michael Pittman leads the Colts in targets (28), receptions (20), yards receiving (224) and endzone targets (3).
- Tight end Kylen Granson is seeing significant playing time, but Mo Alie-Cox is coming off a six-catch, 85-yard and two touchdown performance.
- Denver has allowed 17 points per game, good for the fifth-best in the league.
- Per The Edge, Denver has allowed the fifth-fewest yards passing and the 15th-most yards rushing.
- The Broncos have allowed the 16th-most yards rushing and the 12th-fewest yards receiving to running backs this season.
- The Broncos have allowed the second-fewest yards receiving on the ninth-fewest receptions to wide receivers this season.
- Denver has allowed the 16th-most yards receiving on the 11th-most receptions to tight ends this year.
This is What You’re Betting On in Colts vs. Broncos
A bet on the Broncos is a bet on Wilson’s underwhelming offense taking a step forward on a short week. Denver entered the season with a new coach and a new quarterback, so the slow start makes some sense. That said, many overvalued Wilson’s supporting cast on offense entering the season. Gregory’s absence due to injury is my biggest concern with a Denver bet. The Broncos pass rush has been a major strength, and the loss of Gregory is a massive one. A bet on the Broncos can also be a bet against Ryan, who has struggled this season. The absence of Gregory hurts that stance some.
The Colts have a -6-turnover differential, tied for the second worst in the league. If you’re betting on Indianapolis, you are betting on its struggling offense playing a much cleaner than they have so far. Specifically, you’re betting on Ryan being a different quarterback while playing in an outdoor road game on a short week. You’re also betting the Colts offense will deploy an unorthodox game plan with Taylor out. Oddly, I could see that being a good thing along with the Colts being in desperation mode. The Colts’ defense shut down Kansas City’s potent offense when they were searching for their first win. If you’re betting on the Colts, you’re betting on a similar effort from their defense against a less stable Broncos offense.
Per TruMedia, during the last 150 games Thursday night games, home teams are 80-66-4 ATS. On average, home teams have covered by just shy of one point while outright winning by just shy of six points. Give the home team a slight baseline edge in your decision-making process on the short week.
The short week, injured running backs and disappointing starts from both offenses point to an under in this contest. The path to a contrarian over is if either borderline Hall of Fame quarterback exceeds expectations.
Colts vs. Broncos Pool Picks
Awards Market Ramifications: None.
Winner/ Confidence Pool: I’m in several winner pools with weekly payouts, so I’ll have some exposure to both teams in that format. In confidence pools, I’ll have this game ranked lower than consensus.
Spread Pool: I’m very much aligned with Chris Farley on this contest, as I also think Denver -3.5 is a little high, but I currently have no interest in betting on the Colts.
Survivor Pool: This game should be avoided for survivor purposes.
Ryan’s recent betting record:
ATS 2021: 49-31
ATS 2022: 14-6
Props 2022: 13-7
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