Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:15 PM EST.
4:35 PM EST. If the old adage, "that the game is won or lost in the trenches," holds true, then it will be the Colts that dictate the pace of this game. On one side of the ball, the Blue Horseshoe sports arguably the best offensive line in the game, as their 18 sacks allowed was a league low and the Colts' 4.0% Adjusted Sack Rate was second only to the Patriots. When a top notch quarterback like Andrew Luck gets time to do his thing, it can be a long day for opposing defenses. Remember in the spring when the pundits were freaking out that Luck wasn't throwing and the kerfuffle that came out of him being unable to throw the long ball in the preseason? When the dust settled on Andrew's 2018, he finished fifth in yards (4593), second in touchdowns (39) and led a team that nobody expected to be in the playoffs to a 10-win season.
To fantasy players, the cast that surrounds Luck will not be unfamiliar, but to casual fans, this is not a well known group of stars, but the success of second year runner Marlon Mack can also be credited to Indy's quality line play. According to Football Outsiders, the Colts are fourth in the league in Adjusted Line Yards, which is a stat that takes running back carries and assigns responsibility to the O-line and assigns a percentage based on the result of the play. Getting to the second level is another analytic we put stock into, as it shows that an offensive line can push through the first line of defense to open up big plays. In this category, the Colts rank sixth, while also finishing in the top 10 (ninth) in run plays that were stuffed (either at the line or for a loss) with just 17.8%. For reference, 3.4% points separated the Colts from first place, New Orleans. While Indy's offensive line will face a stiff test from the Texans, it is the weak Houston O-line that is the focus of our attack.
The last time these two teams played, the Colts were able to stuff Houston’s running game, while also bringing the heat with multiple defensive back blitzes because the Texans have limited offensive weapons. Seriously, other than DeAndre Hopkins, who scares you? The Texans receivers have been decimated by injury this season, which led them to trade for Demaryius Thomas after Will Fuller went down with a season ending injury. It didn't take long for the former Bronco to join his new mate on the sidelines, as Thomas is now done for the season as well. When looking at Adjusted Line Yards, the Texans were just the 27th ranked team in the NFL and that's the good news. The bad news is that their offensive line is the worst unit in the league when it comes to protecting their quarterback as they have allowed 62 total sacks, which is 10 more than anybody else and Houston sports the NFL's highest Adjusted Sack Rate at 11.5%.
The Colts defense doesn't have the big names like Watt or Clowney, but it is a disciplined unit that does have a standout rookie in linebacker Darius Leonard, who we have talked about before in this space. He is fantastic and absolutely deserving of the defensive rookie of the year award. Leonard is fast, can sniff out what the offense is doing in a heartbeat and he can get to the quarterback. Asking Watson to go throw-for-throw with Luck isn't fair and is akin to bringing a slingshot to a High Noon gunfight. You may also want to consider Indy at 30-1 to win the Super Bowl, as they are well equipped to compete with the Chiefs next week at Arrowhead should they take care of their business this afternoon. Don't miss your chance to jump on the Indy bandwagon before it leaves for Kansas City.
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Indianapolis +112 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.24)