2021 Betting Preview: Indianapolis Colts


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2021 Betting Preview: Indianapolis Colts

Indianapolis left a lot of meat on the bone in 2020 despite what most would categorize as a successful season with an 11-5 record (8-8 ATS) and a return to the playoffs (-175) after a year out of the postseason. The Colts played from behind the eight-ball all season long after they lost as touchdown road favorites to the lowly Jaguars in the season opener, a team that wouldn’t win the rest of the year. The Colts faced arguably the league’s easiest schedule and they lost five games despite being an underdog just once all season — they were one-point road underdogs to the Browns in Week 5. Indy’s season and Philip Rivers’ career came to an end in a loss to the Bills in the Wild Card Round after they made the playoffs as the AFC’s first-ever seven-seed.

The Colts allowed the 11th-fewest points per game (22.6) and they scored the ninth-most points per game (28.2), which led to a 9-7 mark toward overs last season. Indianapolis finished 5-2 in one-score contests and 5-1 in games decided by three scores or more, which helped them to the eighth-best point differential (+89) in the league.

Indianapolis’ 2021 win total (10) climbed by two victories after reaching the playoffs and acquiring Carson Wentz this off-season. The Colts cruised past their 2020 win total by three victories and they passed their total with their ninth victory of the season over the Raiders in Week 14. Entering this season, I have the Colts power rated as the 11th-best team in the NFL (+2500 to win Super Bowl LVI), as the fifth-best team in the AFC (+1200 to win the conference), and as the best team in the AFC South (+115).

2021 Schedule

Spreads are first-look lines from the SuperBook, which were released in early June.

1Seattle Seahawks-31
2Los Angeles Rams-1.51
3@Tennessee Titans-11
4@Miami Dolphins-1.51
5@Baltimore Ravens+48:15 (Mon)
6Houston Texans-11.51
7@San Francisco 49ers+4.58:20
8Tennessee Titans-3.51
9New York Jets-8.58:20 (Thurs)
10Jacksonville Jaguars-7.51
11@Buffalo Bills+61
12Tampa Bay BuccaneersPK1
13@Houston Texans-71
15New England Patriots-5.5TBD
16@Arizona Cardinals+18:15 (Sat)
17Las Vegas Raiders-61
18Jacksonville Jaguars-31

The Good

The Colts will face the sixth-easiest schedule this season based on 2021 win totals (per Sharp Football) thanks to a pair of matchups with two of the league’s worst teams in the Texans and Jaguars. They also have additional games against the Jets (Week 9) and Raiders (Week 17) mixed in. They’ll face Jets’ first-year HC Robert Saleh at home on Thursday Night Football in Week 9, which is an advantageous spot for the Colts. After a tough opening stretch of games, the Colts have six out of their final nine contests against teams lined at eight wins or worse against the Jets, Jaguars (x2), Texans, Cardinals, and Raiders.

The Bad

Carson Wentz’s Colts career will get off to a challenging start with seven of his first eight games coming against teams lined at 9+ wins entering the season. They also have a difficult two game-stretch against two of the best teams in the league in the Bills and Bucs in Weeks 11-12. The Colts are one of 10 teams with two games against teams coming off their bye starting with the 49ers in Week 7. Indianapolis will have its Week 14 bye negated by squaring off against a Patriots team that will also be coming off a week of rest. Indianapolis will also have to play the Ravens on the road in MNF and the 49ers on the road in SNF in a three-week stretch in Weeks 5 and 7. The Colts will play four primetime games overall this season.

Key Off-season Moves

Carson Wentz (QB)Kwity Paye (DE)Philip Rivers (QB, retired)
Eric Fisher (OT)Dayo Odeyingbo (DT)Jacoby Brissett (QB, Mia)
Sam Tevi (OT)Kylen Granson (TE)Anthony Castonzo (OT, retired)
Julien Davenport (OT)Trey Burton (TE)
Antwaun Woods (DT)Denico Autry (DE, Ten)
T.J. Carrie (CB)Justin Houston (OLB)
Isaac Rochell (DT)Anthony Walker (LB, Cle)
Malik Hooker (S)

2021 Season Odds

Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook

Team FuturesOdds
Season Win Total (O/U)10 (+115/-143)
AFC South+115
Playoffs (Y/N)-182/+145
AFC Championship+1200
Super Bowl+2500

Season Prop Movement

  • Win Total: 10 (+110) in late March to 10 (+115)

  • Super Bowl: +2800 in early February to +2500

Reasons to Bet Over the Season Win Total

The Colts needed to address their quarterback situation in a meaningful, long-term way as they’ve been going year-to-year at the position since Andrew Luck’s stunning retirement in August 2019. That’s exactly what they did this off-season by acquiring Carson Wentz from the Eagles. Wentz’s performance this season will determine if Indy’s odds are way off in either direction this season. The Colts could easily make a leap this season if (and it’s a big if) Wentz can find his old form playing with his old Eagles OC Frank Reich. Wentz owns an 18-11 record playing under Reich and a 17-21-1 mark without Reich in his five-year career. Reich is also a coach to believe in as he owns a 28-20 career record (.583 winning percentage) with a 2-1 mark toward the over on win totals through his first three seasons.

The Colts have accumulated enough talent to make some noise this season if Wentz can show just some of his early-career form. This is a roster that’s built to win now in a very winnable division that features the Texans and Jaguars — the AFC South has the lowest combined win total. The Colts could have the best O-line in the league if Eric Fisher is able to quickly recover from his torn Achilles last season and RB Jonathan Taylor looked like one of the league’s best runners in the final two months of last season. The Colts’ potentially potent rushing attack will give Wentz some cover while he gets comfortable in his offense. Indianapolis should also field an above-average defense once again after the acquisition of DT DeForest Buckner elevated them into top-10 finishes in points (22.6) and yards (332.1) allowed per game last season.

Reasons to Bet Under the Season Win Total

As stated above, the Colts have a pretty high ceiling if Wentz returns to some sort of form from earlier in his career or they could fall well short of expectations if he plays anything like he did at the end of his Eagles’ tenure. Wentz got run out of Philadelphia on a rail after things turned toxic around him last season after a truly abysmal campaign. He averaged just 6.0 YPA and his TD rate (3.7%) nearly matched his INT rate (3.4%) before the organization finally pulled the plug after 12 games. Wentz and the Eagles finished under their win total for his final three seasons in Philadelphia, which came after Reich left to take the Colts’ job in 2018. It doesn’t help him that former Colts OC Nick Sirianni picked over Reich’s 2020 staff before he went to Philadelphia, and Wentz will be lacking a true #1 WR this season with T.Y. Hilton past his prime and Michael Pittman having yet to hit his prime.

The NFL schedule-makers did Wentz no favors in his transition to Indianapolis. The Colts play seven of their first eight games c against teams lined at nine or more wins before their schedule gets significantly easier in the second half of the season. The Colts also got a bit unlucky to draw the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers for their 17th game this season after both teams finished in second place of their respective divisions. Indy’s defense will be tested in that contest and they’ll need their young pass rushers to develop quickly if this team wants to remain a top-10 defense. The Colts will be looking for immediate contributions from first-round pick Kwity Paye to help Buckner out after they lost DEs Justin Houston and Denico Autry this off-season.

Notable Player Props

Carson Wentz: passing yards (3850.5), passing TDs (24.5), MVP (+4000), Comeback POY (+900)

Fantasy Points Projection: passing yards (3945), passing TDs (27)

  • Best-Case Scenario: Wentz is able to regain some of his early-career form in his first season in Indianapolis thanks to an improved supporting cast and the work of his mentor Frank Reich.

  • Worst-Case-Scenario: Even with a much-need change of scenery, Wentz’s career stays in the pits as he’s unable to dramatically improve upon his 57.4% completion percentage and his 6.0 YPA from last season.

Jonathan Taylor: rushing yards (1275.5), rushing + receiving yards (1450.5), rushing TDs (12.5), OPOY (+2000)

Fantasy Points Projection: rushing yards (1370), rushing + receiving yards (1700), rushing TDs (12)

  • Best-Case Scenario: Taylor carries his late-season momentum from his rookie campaign over to 2021 and he challenges the likes of Derrick Henry and Nick Chubb for the league lead in rushing yards.
  • Worst-Case-Scenario: The whole offense takes a step back switching from Philip Rivers to Carson Wentz while Marlon Mack returns to the lineup and plays a bigger factor than expected in this backfield.

Michael Pittman: receiving yards (800.5)

Fantasy Points Projection: receiving yards (840)

  • Best-Case Scenario: After flashing a bit as a rookie, Pittman makes a second-year leap to overtake Hilton as the team’s #1 thanks to a more complete route tree after his aDOT sat at just 8.4 yards last season.
  • Worst-Case-Scenario: Pittman and Wentz never really get on the same page in their first year together with Wentz continuing to struggle with his accuracy on drag routes, which are Pittman’s best routes.

T.Y. Hilton: receiving yards (775.5), receptions (62.5), receiving TDs (4.5)

Fantasy Points Projection: receiving yards (780), receptions (57), receiving TDs (5)

  • Best-Case Scenario: Hilton hits it off with Carson Wentz immediately and his YPR climbs back above 15.0 YPR for the first time since he last played with Andrew Luck in 2018.
  • Worst-Case-Scenario: Hilton, working with his fourth quarterback in the last four seasons, struggles to get on the same page with Wentz and he fails to hit 100+ targets for a third straight season without Luck.

Brolley’s Bets

Best Bets

Indianapolis Colts under 10 wins (-120, PointsBet). Risk one unit to win .83 units. — Oddsmakers have been bullish on the Colts with their win total sitting in the double digits and their Super Bowl odds resting in the +2500-3000 range this off-season. I haven’t quite understood it with Carson Wentz’s career heading in the wrong direction the last few years, and I’m viewing the Colts as a slightly above-average team lined with double-digit wins. The Colts squeezed out 11 victories last season with a far better quarterback in Philip Rivers leading the team, but they underperformed overall if you consider they were favored in all but one game last season. Wentz played like a quarterback who had no confidence last season. It’s imperative for him to get off to a strong start this season or his poor play could snowball, but his opening schedule may make it tough to do so. The Colts do once again have one of the league’s easiest schedules, but Wentz’s Colts career will get off to a challenging start with seven of his first eight games coming against teams lined at 9+ wins entering the season. I prefer to hit under 10 wins rather than under 9.5 wins to take a potential loss out of play and to bring a push into play if the Colts were to finish at 10-7.


Michael Pittman under 800.5 receiving yards (-120, DraftKings) — Pittman has been way more popular in fantasy drafts than I anticipated this summer based on how he played as a rookie and his receiving yards total is a bit ambitious, as well. My biggest concern is that he’s a potentially terrible fit with Carson Wentz since he excels on crossing routes. Wentz has struggled with his accuracy on crossing routes throughout his career while Pittman managed just 38.7 receiving yards per game playing with Philip Rivers last season, who made a career off of throwing crossing routes. I’ve been fading Pittman in fantasy drafts because of his inflated ADP but I couldn’t quite get to this bet because of the juice toward the under. I’m also a hair worried he could take a nice step forward and he’d only need to average 47.1 yards per game to clear this total.

Tom is a Senior Writer at Fantasy Points who specializes in fantasy and betting analysis. He’ll be helping you to navigate the waiver wire and manage your fantasy teams while also keeping our betting content robust all year long, especially during the season. Tom's Best Bets against the spread won at 64.3% clip last season and he owned the last undefeated team out of 3000 entries in Scott Fish Bowl 12.