DraftKings Sportsbook has the Colts as 4-point underdogs in Las Vegas. The biggest questions in this one are, can the Colts' offense capitalize on a dreadful Raiders defense, and can the Colts' defense continue to play shutdown football?
The narrative in this game is relatively straightforward. The Indianapolis Colts are a franchise coming apart at the seams over the last few weeks. Veteran quarterbacks have been demoted, offensive coordinators and head coaches have been fired, and even the players haven’t been particularly subtle in not only expressing their frustrations but expressing that they don’t agree with some or all of the decisions that have been made.
This team has no business winning games and is a franchise that is dangerously close to entering a full-scale rebuild. The owner has started to take on a more active role, not just in personnel and coaching decisions but orchestrating which players will play. The General Manager looks clearly like a man being forced to take orders - not the type of thing NFL General Managers like to do when their legacies are tied to winning.
This Colts team has a borderline dominant defense.
This is incredible, given that Shaquille Leonard has rarely played and, when he has, not been at full strength. He has been placed on injured reserve and must miss at least another four games. Kenny Moore has been one of the biggest playmakers on the defense for years but hasn’t been as dominant. Former Colt Rock Ya-Sin will be on the other sideline Sunday afternoon, and he was dealt for Yannick Ngakoue, who hasn’t created the pass-rushing spark the franchise had hoped for to this point.
This defense is built to give the Raiders running game trouble, a big deal given that Josh Jacobs has had such a big year. This is also a defense that can keep a struggling Raiders offense from getting a lot of scoring opportunities.
With a defense like that, even assuming the Colts don’t get a ton of points off of turnovers, the offense shouldn’t have to score many points.
Oddly enough, with Taylor returning after two full practices, this is an offense that should look notably better. Even if Sam Ehlinger is under center for the entire game, the offensive line will be playing against one of the least effective pass-rushing defenses in the NFL this year. This shouldn’t look like the sack-fest Colts fans watched a week ago.
With a little time and room in the pocket to move around, Ehlinger has shown that he can hit his weapons downfield.
WHICH MATTERS MOST?
This game could very well come down to whether organizational distractions and instability visibly rattle the Colts. If the offense looks confused with a half-baked offensive game plan or disorganized by taking plays from a first-time play-caller, no reality might matter in the end.
On the other hand, if players are more concerned with righting the ship and rallying around one another, this is a winnable game. Wouldn’t that be something?
I’m still strongly considering betting the under and Colts to cover.