CAN THE COLTS RALLY IN THE AFC SOUTH

This was supposed to be a bounceback year for the Indianapolis Colts, with a healthy Andrew Luck back in the fold and head coach Chuck Pagano given the security of a four-year contract. The Colts opened the season as the betting favorite to win the AFC South, and based on the Over/Under for total wins, were expected to get to at least 10-6. After four games, Indy is staring at three losses, both straight up and ATS and their backers clearly doubt their ability to turn it around.

Indianapolis has now dropped to a 4-1 price just to win their division. While the Colts do trail the Houston Texans by two games, it’s worth pointing out that the Texans haven’t exactly wowed anyone with their start to the season and the two teams have both head-to-head matchups still ahead. Can Indianapolis fix what ails them and give that 4-1 number some real value?

The problems with the Colts quite obviously start on defense. They rank 30th in the league in points allowed. Las Vegas can’t keep up with this team on the totals line—in spite of numbers ranging from 47-52 getting posted for Over/Unders, Indy has still gone Over three times.

When you break down the personnel individually, it gets even worse. Robert Mathis, the once-outstanding 35-year defensive end, is a shell of the player who was one of the best in football in recently as three years ago. The Indianapolis defense boils down to one fine strong safety in Mike Adams, and ten guys that are interchangeable with a local flag football team. Okay, perhaps that’s overly harsh, but you get the point.

On the offensive side of the ball, there continues to be a contrast between the media coverage Andrew Luck gets and the performance he actually delivers. Part of this is due to the fact there’s a big contrast between his production in areas Fantasy-league players love and in areas that actually win real-life football games .

Luck piles up the yardage and touchdown passes, where he ranks 8th and 5th in the NFL respectively. But the areas that most impact a team’s ability to move the football are completion percentage, yards-per-attempt and mistakes. Luck ranks 22nd in the NFL in completion percentage. He’s 20th in YPA. And he’s 16th in interceptions as a percentage of passes thrown.

What those numbers mean is that if you need to someone to pile up passing yards after you’ve fallen behind or to throw a short touchdown pass rather than hand the ball off, Luck is your man. But if you need someone to efficiently run an offense, than he’s got some work to do.

Having said all that though, the Colts do have some things going for them. The left side of the offensive line has started to play better, with tackle Anthony Castonzo appearing to have his career back on track. They have weapons and while Luck’s flaws are often overlooked, there’s no denying his ability to take his game to a higher level than what we’ve seen.

That’s what makes this Sunday’s home game with the Chicago Bears so intriguing. Indianapolis is a (-4.5) favorite against a team that’s struggling. It’s an opportunity for the Colts to make a statement to the rest of the league and to their Vegas backers, with a decisive win and ATS cover. If they do that, there will be some momentum in place for October 16, when a trip to Houston gives Indy the chance to get back in the AFC South race.  

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