Jaguars (0-0) at Colts (0-0)
Spread: Colts +5
The Line Report
There’s been a lot of fluctuation on this line. It’s ranged from Indianapolis Colts +3.5 to Colts +5, with several dips and rises. This line can be found at Colts +4.5 and Colts +5 at various national, online sportsbooks.
The total for this contest has followed a similar pattern, bouncing between 43 and 44 points early on. The total has settled in at 45.5 points in most spots in the last several weeks.
Curiously, the finality of the Jonathan Taylor debacle did not negatively affect the game total. The current mark of 45.5 points is the consensus peak for this total.
Colts Offense vs. Jaguars Defense
Quarterback Anthony Richardson will make his NFL debut in this game. Richardson was the fourth overall pick because he’s one of the most dynamic athletes ever to play the position. He was also an inconsistent passer in college, so we should expect growing pains early.
Taylor’s absence means Deon Jackson will lead the Colts’ backfield. If Zack Moss plays, he’ll factor in the run game, while rookie Evan Hull could see action even if Moss plays. Richardson is a mobile quarterback, so passes to running backs could be at a minimum.
That said, Jackson saw eight and 10 target spike weeks last season. The Jacksonville Jaguars gave up the third-most receiving yards to running backs last season.
Richardson’s season-long passing yards line hovers around 2,800 yards at most books. That’s very low, a negative for all Colts pass-catchers. That said, Michael Pittman caught 13 passes on 16 targets for 134 yards receiving in his lone matchup with Jacksonville last year.
Second-year WR Alec Pierce should be considered a volatile second option in the Colts’ passing attack. The Jaguars allowed the sixth-most fantasy points per game to slot receivers last season.
We should expect sporadic volume for rookie wide receiver Josh Downs, but he should see most of his snaps in the slot.
Jaguars Offense vs. Colts Defense
Trevor Lawrence is an ascending quarterback who’s already knocking on the door of that upper-echelon tier. The addition of Calvin Ridley raises the ceiling of the Jaguars’ passing attack even further.
In a best-case scenario, Jacksonville now has a true No. 1 WR option with an exceptional group of complimentary pass-catchers. The sky’s the limit for this group long term and on opening day against Indianapolis’ suspect secondary.
Etienne had one solid outing and one poor one against Indianapolis last season. In general, the Colts have a solid run defense, and they aren’t consistently exploited by running backs in the passing game.
One area of uncertainty for the Jaguars offense is that they’ll start two new offensive tackles on opening day. LT Walker Little was a second-round pick in 2021, and RT Anton Harrison was taken No. 27 overall this year.
The Jaguars’ offensive line can be rock-solid if their young tackles provide stability.
What You’re Betting On
The Colts enter this game with a rookie head coach and quarterback. They’ll be down their best skill player in Taylor. They also lack a consistent passing attack to exploit Jacksonville’s beatable secondary.
On the other side of the ball, Lawrence could eviscerate the Colts’ questionable secondary. From a pure talent standpoint, Jacksonville can win this game with distance. So if you’re betting on the Colts, you are building that bet around familiarity being an advantage.
Contrarian home underdogs give superior division rivals close games all the time, partly because the teams know each other.
If you are betting on the Jaguars, you build that bet around Lawrence shredding the Colts’ secondary. Lawrence didn’t put up big numbers in his two matchups with Indianapolis last year but completed 45 of 52 passes. The Jaguars scored 24 or more points in both of those games.
You can also bet against a rookie quarterback and head coach duo making their debut. The conditions that keep Taylor out to start the season aren’t a positive for this young Colts team.
The Jaguars’ secondary can be exploited, but the Colts lack a high-caliber passing attack. Instead, Indianapolis has a dynamic athlete at quarterback who was an inconsistent passer in college.
The strength of the Jaguars’ defense is the speed of their front four, which makes them a tough matchup for Richardson. If everything aligns for the Jaguars, they can blow out Indianapolis.
Score Prediction: Jaguars 24, Colts 17
Ryan’s Recent Betting Record
ATS 2021: 49-31
ATS 2022: 48-32
Props 2022: 60-40