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Entering the final week of the 2021 NFL regular season, all the Indianapolis Colts needed to do was defeat the 2-14 Jacksonville Jaguars. It would have gotten the Colts to 10-7 and clinched them a wild card spot in the AFC playoffs.
Instead, Carson Wentz was held under 200 passing yards and turned the ball over twice. Jonathan Taylor was held in check on the ground, rushing for just 77 yards. Jacksonville won the game and the Colts' season was over, with no playoffs to follow.
It was a failure of epic proportions, but to the Colts' credit, they reacted swiftly. The vote of confidence was never given to Wentz at the end-of-season media sessions. Instead, they traded him to Washington. A few weeks later, they acquired former NFL MVP Matt Ryan to be their new starting quarterback.
Ryan joins a growing list of quarterbacks the Colts have used in an attempt to fill the hole left by the sudden retirement of Andrew Luck in 2019. That list includes Jacoby Brissett, Philip Rivers, Wentz and now Ryan. While Ryan isn't a long-term solution due to his age, he might just be the best name on that list.
Indianapolis doesn't need elite quarterback play, they just need good quarterback play. There's a decent chance Ryan could provide that, and as a result, there's optimism surrounding the Colts entering training camp. Yahoo's Frank Schwab ranked the Colts 14th in his preseason power rankings. You can find an in-depth breakdown of the Colts from a football perspective in his article. In this one, we'll be focusing on the betting market's perception surrounding the Colts and their players.
Colts expected to make playoffs and win AFC South
Last season, the Colts won nine games. It wasn't enough to get them into the playoffs and it was three wins less than the Tennessee Titans, who ended up winning the AFC South. It certainly appears oddsmakers are expecting a better Colts team this year.
Indianapolis is currently a sizable -160 favorite to go over 9.5 wins in 2022. While the actual win total hasn't moved, the odds have moved in favor of the Colts during the offseason. Indianapolis opened at -125 to go over 9.5 wins. It certainly appears that bettors believe that Matt Ryan is worth at least a win over Carson Wentz. As of last week at BetMGM, 93% of bets and 98% of the money was backing the Colts to go over 9.5 wins.
Entering last season, the Colts were slight underdogs behind the Titans to win the AFC South. Those roles have reversed this season. Currently, Indianapolis is a -120 favorite to win the division. Tennessee faltered in the playoffs and traded away A.J. Brown in the offseason. Meanwhile, the Colts upgraded at the most important position on the field. Public perception has shifted in Indianapolis' favor.
Obviously, winning the division would come with an automatic playoff berth for the Colts. However, even if Indianapolis gets beat out for the division, the oddsmakers like its chances to clinch a wild card spot. The Colts are -190 favorites to make the playoffs in the loaded AFC. If we convert those odds to probability, Indianapolis makes the playoffs over 65.5% of the time in the eyes of the bookmakers.
Indianapolis isn't among Super Bowl favorites
Being projected as the favorite to win the AFC South and make the playoffs does not automatically translate into being a Super Bowl contender. While the oddsmakers expect a good regular season from the Colts, they're a lot less bullish on their chances to make a deep run in the playoffs.
Indianapolis is currently 25-to-1 to win the Super Bowl. To compare those odds to teams around the league, Indianapolis has the same odds as the Philadelphia Eagles. They are behind teams like the Chargers, Ravens and Bengals. They're just ahead of Cleveland, Arizona and Tennessee. Overall, at 25-to-1, Indianapolis is tied for the 12th-best odds in the league.
In terms of making a run to the Super Bowl, odds aren't great for the Colts to win the AFC either. Indianapolis is currently 12-to-1 to represent the conference in the Super Bowl. Those are the seventh-best odds, behind the Bills, Chiefs, Broncos, Chargers, Ravens and Bengals. When all is said and done, this is a quarterback league. While Matt Ryan is an upgrade compared to what the Colts had, at this point of his career it's hard to match him up against the quarterbacks those six teams have.
Colts awards and props
There are certainly some players on the Colts who have won awards in the past or have a chance to win awards this upcoming season. Matt Ryan won NFL MVP in 2016 along with the AP Offensive Player of the Year. Darius "Shaquille" Leonard won Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2018. Jonathan Taylor won the rushing title last season and finished second in voting for Offensive Player of the Year. What do the odds say for this upcoming season?
Last season, Jonathan Taylor broke out in a big way. He finished with 332 carries, 1,811 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. He led the NFL in all three categories. As a result, he finished second in voting for the AP Offensive Player of the Year, losing out to Cooper Kupp. Entering just his third season, oddsmakers are expecting Taylor to be among the league's best this upcoming season.
Taylor is the current betting favorite to lead the league in rushing touchdowns at +550. He's the co-favorite alongside Derrick Henry to lead the league in rushing yards at +500. Taylor is the current betting favorite to win offensive player of the year at +900. The Colts running back is 50-to-1 to win NFL MVP. Those are tied for the best odds amongst non-quarterbacks with Derrick Henry.
From a statistical point of view, you can bet on whether Taylor will go over or under 1449.5 rushing yards and over or under 13.5 rushing touchdowns. He blew past both these numbers last season.
While Matt Ryan's MVP days are likely in the rear-view mirror, his odds are currently posted at 50-to-1. That puts him at the same odds as teammate Jonathan Taylor and other quarterbacks like Kirk Cousins, Mac Jones and Tua Tagovailoa. In terms of passing stats, the over/under for Ryan is set at 3899.5 passing yards and 25.5 passing touchdowns. He's gone over that passing yards number in every season since 2010.
Formerly known as Darius, Shaquille Leonard has been a first-team All-Pro three times in his four year career. He won defensive rookie of the year in 2018 when he led the league in tackles. Last season, he led the league in forced fumbles. Leonard is a bit of a long shot to win Defensive Player of the Year at 30-to-1, but he's received the second-most bets of any player for the award. Only Micah Parsons has received more betting action.
Other Colts awards odds
Frank Reich is 20-to-1 to win the coach of the year award. Those are the 11th-best odds.
Alec Pierce is 35-to-1 to win offensive rookie of the year. Those are the 18th-best odds.
Michael Pittman Jr. is 50-to-1 to lead the league in receiving, tied for the 23rd-best odds.
Colts massive favorites in Week 1
The biggest betting favorite for Week 1 of the NFL season? The Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts are currently 7.5-point road favorites against the Houston Texans. Indianapolis is the only team in the league laying more than a touchdown in the opening week of the season. The fact they're laying these many points on the road says a lot.
Obviously, there is hype surrounding the Colts entering the season. The opposite is true for the Texans, who are projected to be one of the worst teams in the league. With that being said, I have a hard time laying over a touchdown with a road favorite in a divisional game early in the season.
The Colts will certainly be a popular leg for teasers and moneyline parlays, but eating those points doesn't sound overly appetizing on first glance.