The Colts are on the shortlist of teams that had the league’s most frustrating and most disappointing seasons in 2021. Indianapolis fielded a title-contending team by many metrics, sporting the seventh-best point differential (+86) and tying the Cowboys for the league lead in turnover differential (+14). They had the NFL’s best running back in Jonathan Taylor, who paced the league with 1811 rushing yards (+1000) and 18 rushing TDs (+600). Indy also led the league with a league-high five All-Pro players (Taylor, Quenton Nelson, Darius Leonard, Ashton Dulin, and Luke Rhodes). The Colts were still on the golf course when the postseason started thanks to a 2-5 record in one-possession games and three double-digit blown leads against the Titans, Ravens, and Buccaneers. The Colts owned a 9-3 record in Weeks 4-16 but a three-game losing streak to open the season and two unacceptable losses to close the year when they were favored by a combined 23 points resulted in a two-win dropoff from 2020 and it kept them out of the playoffs (+100).
The Colts lost Philip Rivers to retirement last off-season and the team responded by reuniting Frank Reich with his former Eagles’ QB Carson Wentz. Indy traded for Wentz in hopes that he could put their title-contending roster over the top, but he instead had the opposite effect. He held back their second-ranked rushing offense (149.4 yards/game) and their ninth-ranked scoring defense (21.4 PPG allowed). Wentz’s final numbers were strong overall with 27 TDs (5.2% rate) and seven INTs (1.4% rate), but they don’t align up with his actual play, especially late in the season. He threw for 148 yards and he averaged just 5.5 YPA in a Week 17 loss to the Raiders as 8.5-point home favorites. The Colts then scored just 11 points in a stunning 15-point loss to the Jaguars as 14.5-point road favorites in the season finale, which knocked them out of the postseason. Half of Jacksonville's victories over the last two seasons have come in games when they hosted the Colts. Those two losses cost Indianapolis a postseason berth in 2021 and the AFC South title and a home playoff game in 2020. Indianapolis has somehow managed to lose seven straight games in Jacksonville to the NFL’s worst team during that span — the Jags own a .292% winning percentage (33-80) in 2015-21.
2021 By the Numbers
Record (ATS): 9-8 (10-7)
Season Win Total: 9 (push)
One-possession Record: 2-5
Missed Playoff Odds: +100
Over/Under record: 8-9
PPG: 26.5 (t9th)
PPG Allowed: 21.5 (t9th)
Point Differential: +86 (7th)
|3||Kansas City Chiefs||+2.5||1|
|5||@Denver Broncos||+3||8:15 (Thurs)|
|9||@New England Patriots||PK||1|
|10||@Las Vegas Raiders||+2||4:05|
|12||Pittsburgh Steelers||-4.5||8:15 (Mon)|
|16||Los Angeles Chargers||+1||8:15 (Mon)|
|17||@New York Giants||-3||1|
The Colts have the third-easiest schedule based on opponent win totals (per Sharp Football).
The Colts will travel the 11th-fewest miles (14,260) and cross 18 time zones this season (per Bookies.com).
Indianapolis will face just one opponent coming off of a bye when they travel to Tennessee in Week 7.
The Colts are one of six teams to have 3+ short-rest road games. They take on the Broncos on TNF in Week 5, the Cowboys in Week 13 after facing the Steelers on MNF a week earlier, and the Giants in Week 17 after facing the Chargers on MNF a week earlier.
The Colts have four primetime games. They’ll host the Steelers (W12) and Chargers (W16), and they’ll travel to Denver (W5) and Dallas (W13).
Indianapolis has an extra road game.
Key Off-season Moves
|QB Matt Ryan||WR Alec Pierce||QB Carson Wentz (Was)|
|EDGE Yannick Ngakoue||TE Jelani Woods||WR Zach Pascal (Phi)|
|CB Stephen Gilmore||OT Bernhard Raimann||TE Jack Doyle (retired)|
|CB Brandon Facyson||S Nick Cross||OG Mark Glowinski (NYG)|
|QB Nick Foles||EDGE Al-Quadin Muhammad (Chi)|
|RB Phillip Lindsay||CB Rock Ya-Sin (LV)|
|S George Odum (SF)|
|RB Jordan Wilkins (Ten)|
|WR T. Y. Hilton|
|OT Eric Fisher|
|CB Xavier Rhodes|
2022 Season Odds
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
|Season Win Total (O/U)||10 (-105/-115)|
Season Prop Movement
Win Total: 9.5 (-110) in late March to 10 (-105) in mid-July
Super Bowl: +2400 in mid-February to +2200 in mid-July
Reasons to Bet Over the Season Win Total
The Colts looked like they could be in trouble heading into the off-season after a disastrous end to last season. GM Chris Ballard hamstrung the franchise a bit with their swing and a miss on Carson Wentz last off-season, but they’re somehow in a better position than they were heading into last season. They turned Wentz into some Day 2 picks in 2022-23 and they improved the quarterback position by trading a third-round pick for Matt Ryan. The Colts were a top-10 team in points per game (26.5), points per game allowed (21.5), and point differential (+86), but they finished 2-5 in one-possession games. Meanwhile, Ryan’s Falcons team went 7-2 in one-possession games despite ranking in the bottom seven in PPG (18.4), PPG allowed (27.0), and point differential (-146).
Ryan will go from having one of the league’s worst rushing attacks to having the NFL’s best running back at his disposal. Jonathan Taylor led the NFL in rushing yards (1811) and rushing TDs (18), which means Ryan won’t have the pressure of the entire offense on his shoulders. Indianapolis has the chance to field one of the league’s best defenses with the likes of Kenny Moore and Darius Leonard already in the fold, and they also improved their secondary by signing Stephon Gilmore. They added some much-needed pass-rushing help by trading for Yannick Ngakoue, whose presence could help 2021 first-round pick Kwity Paye come into his own after a promising rookie season. The Colts benefit from playing both the Jaguars and Texans twice and their extra games will come against three teams potentially moving in the wrong direction in the Steelers, Patriots, and Vikings.
Reasons to Bet Under the Season Win Total
The Colts haven’t won the AFC South since 2014 after winning a division title in 9-of-12 seasons from 2003-14. Indy owns a 2-4-1 wins record since 2014, including a 2-1-1 mark since Frank Reich took over as head coach in 2018. Indianapolis has been prone to slow starts under Reich, and the franchise has dropped eight straight season openers. They’ll look to get off of the schneid this season and they open with a pair of road games against the Jaguars and Texans. Yet another slow start in those games could be disastrous since they have their toughest three-game stretch in Weeks 3-5 against the Chiefs, Titans, and Broncos.
The Colts haven’t had continuity under center during Reich’s tenure, and Matt Ryan will become his fifth different starting quarterback in as many years, which could explain their slow starts over the years. Ryan will have an improved offensive cast around him, but his wide receiving corps is largely unproven behind Michael Pittman. Ryan’s O-line will also be better than the one he played behind in Atlanta, but Indy’s O-line has slowly deteriorated from being one of the league’s best. The Colts still have stalwarts Quenton Nelson, Braden Smith, and Ryan Kelly still around, but they have major concerns at left tackle and right guard. Ryan is a Nelson injury away from having a Falcons’ quality offensive line in front of him once again, and his receiving corps could be the league’s worst if Pittman misses time. The Colts also hope Darius Leonard doesn’t miss any time after he needed back surgery in early June.
Notable Player Props
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
Matt Ryan: passing yards (3950.5), passing TDs (25.5), INTs (11.5), MVP (+3500), most passing yards (+2000)
Fantasy Points Projection — passing yards (4085), passing TDs (27)
Best-Case Scenario: Ryan shows he still has plenty left in the tank playing behind an improved offensive line with better weapons, and he gives this passing game a major boost over Carson Wentz.
Worst-Case Scenario: Ryan’s dip to 7.1 YPA and a 3.6% TD rate in his final season with the Falcons wasn’t a product of a poor offensive atmosphere, and he fails to put the Colts over the top in 2022.
Jonathan Taylor: rushing yards (1450.5), rushing + receiving yards (1825.5), rushing TDs (14.5), OPOY (+850), most rushing yards (+400)
Fantasy Points Projection — rushing yards (1585), rushing + receiving yards (1960), rushing TDs (15)
Best-Case Scenario: JT retains his title as the NFL’s best running back as he once again leads the league in carries (332), rushing yards (1811), rushing touchdowns (18), and rushing yards per game (106.5).
Worst-Case Scenario: Taylor can’t maintain his blistering pace from last season, and the Colts move toward a more balanced offensive attack with a more competent Matt Ryan at quarterback.
Michael Pittman: receiving yards (1025.5), receiving TDs (6.5), OPOY (+6000), most receiving yards (+4000)
Fantasy Points Projection — receiving yards (1115), receiving TDs (6)
Best-Case Scenario: Pittman takes another step forward in his third season and he ranks among the league leaders in target share with one of the league’s worst receiving corps behind him.
Worst-Case Scenario: Matt Ryan fails to provide a significant upgrade over Carson Wentz, and Alec Pierce and Parris Campbell cut just enough into Pittman’s 26% target share.
Best Bets and Leans
Indianapolis Colts over 9.5 wins (-110, Caesars, placed April 15). Risk 2.2 units to win two units.
Indianapolis Colts to win the AFC South (+125, BetMGM, placed April 15). Risk one unit to win 1.25 units
- The Colts were well on their way to cruising over their season win total last season before they nosedived as massive favorites in their final two games against the Raiders and the lowly Jaguars. The Colts wisely swapped out Carson Wentz for a much more capable quarterback in Matt Ryan, who helped the Falcons sneak out seven wins despite playing with one of the league’s worst rosters. Indy could have one of the league’s best defenses and their competition in the AFC South remains extremely weak against the Texans, Jaguars, and the regressing Titans.
None of note.