The Indianapolis Colts had high expectations coming into the 2019 season. The team is coming off of a successful campaign that saw them beat the Houston Texans in the playoffs as a Wild Card entrant before falling at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round. Andrew Luck returned from his long-term shoulder injury to put up a monstrous season in which he threw for over 4,500 yards with 39 touchdowns.
However, ESPN reports Luck has been dealing with a lingering calf/ankle injury throughout training camp, and over the weekend, he shockingly announced his decision to retire from football. With Luck’s decision, the Colts went from the odds-on favorite to win the AFC South to a team with massive question marks heading into the new season. Losing a player of Luck’s caliber obviously puts a damper on Indy’s hopes in both the short term and in the long run.
The Indianapolis Colts reportedly weren’t exactly blindsided by the news, but they surely would’ve gone about the draft differently had they known Luck wouldn’t be in the plans this season. Now, Jacoby Brissett looks primed to be the team’s starting quarterback, while Phillip Walker and Chad Kelly are the only other QBs currently on the roster. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Indy make a move for another quarterback between now and the beginning of the season, but the job is Brissett’s for now.
News of Luck’s retirement has affected betting odds at all football betting sites dramatically. At the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas, the Colts’ odds to win Super Bowl LIV fell from 12-1 to 30-1. FanDuel Sportsbook slashed the Colts’ win prop from 9 to just 6.5. MyBookie has Indianapolis over/under 7.5, closer to the win total predictions for the Houston Texans.
Can the Colts exceed their suddenly dampened expectations?
Luck deciding to hang up his cleats is obviously the most noteworthy aspect of the Colts’ offseason to this point. Now, Indianapolis goes from having one of the best five quarterbacks in the league to a questionable commodity in Brissett. Brissett played in all 16 games in Luck’s place back in the 2017 season, with middling results. He completed 58.8% of his throws for 3,098 yards with 13 touchdowns and 7 interceptions.
The Luck news is rather unfortunate considering the Indianapolis Colts had enjoyed a largely productive offseason before he retired. Indy entered the offseason with over $100 million to spend in cap space. The Colts wisely avoided spending money just to spend it, but they did make smart acquisitions like pass-rusher Justin Houston and wideout Devin Funchess.
The Colts also reinvested in players already on the roster, as Margus Hunt, Clayton Geathers, Pierre Desir, and Mark Glowinski were all signed to contract extensions. Indy also signed five special teamers, including kicker Adam Vinatieri, to new deals.
Indy didn’t lose much either. Their most notable losses were Dontrelle Inman, Mike Mitchell, Ryan Grant, and Al Woods. Guard Matt Slauson retired, but the offensive line still looks solid enough. The Colts also wound up taking 10 players in the draft, including cornerback Rock Ya-Sin with their first pick of the second round. It wasn’t a splashy offseason for the Indianapolis Colts, but they did address several areas of need while fortifying the roster for the next several years.
Unfortunately, Luck’s shocking retirement looms over it all.
|Points per Game||Passing Yards per Game||Rushing Yards per Game|
|27.1 (5th)||278.8 (6th)||107.4 (20th)|
|Points Allowed per Game||Passing Yards Allowed per Game||Rushing Yards Allowed per Game|
|21.5 (10th)||237.8 (16th)||101.6 (8th)|
|1||Sun, Sep. 8||at Los Angeles Chargers||4:05pm||CBS|
|2||Sun, Sep. 15||at Tennessee Titans||1:00pm||CBS|
|3||Sun, Sep. 22||vs. Atlanta Falcons||1:00pm||CBS|
|4||Sun, Sep. 29||vs. Oakland Raiders||1:00pm||CBS|
|5||Sun, Oct. 6||at Kansas City Chiefs||8:20pm||NBC|
|7||Sun, Oct. 20||vs. Houston Texans||1:00pm||CBS|
|8||Sun, Oct. 27||vs. Denver Broncos||4:25pm||CBS|
|9||Sun, Nov. 3||at Pittsburgh Steelers||1:00pm||CBS|
|10||Sun, Nov. 10||vs. Miami Dolphins||4:05pm||CBS|
|11||Sun, Nov. 17||vs. Jacksonville Jaguars||1:00pm||CBS|
|12||Thu, Nov. 21||at Houston Texans||8:20pm||FOX/NFL Net.|
|13||Sun, Dec. 1||vs. Tennessee Titans||1:00pm||CBS|
|14||Sun, Dec. 8||at Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1:00pm||CBS|
|15||Mon, Dec. 16||at New Orleans Saints||8:15pm||ESPN|
|16||Sun, Dec. 22||vs. Carolina Panthers||1:00pm||FOX|
|17||Sun, Dec. 29||at Jacksonville Jaguars||1:00pm||CBS|
The Colts’ schedule doesn’t look overly difficult at first glance but starting the season with back-to-back road games is rather unfortunate. Four of Indy’s first five opponents are potential playoff contenders, and a home tilt with the Raiders is the only game preceding the Week 6 bye that looks like a probable victory.
Following the bye, Indy gets four home games in five weeks, with a road game in Pittsburgh being the only exception. The Indianapolis Colts will play three straight divisional games from Weeks 12 through 14 followed by three consecutive NFC South opponents in the three weeks after that. The NFC South is a daunting division, but it’s helpful that Indy will get both Atlanta and Carolina at home.
It’s far tougher to predict Indy’s schedule than it was a week ago at this time. There were questions about Luck’s health situation, but most still assumed he would be in the fold to begin the season. The Colts’ roster today looks better than it did a couple of years ago, but the fact that the team went 4-12 under his watch in 2017 isn’t something that instills a lot of confidence moving forward.
The fact that the Colts play in the AFC South means all is not lost. This is a division without a clear-cut best team as of this writing. Indianapolis was the trendy pick considering how well they fared to end last season, but Luck’s announcement has thrown a wrench into everything. Houston has a difficult schedule, and they just lost Lamar Miller to a torn ACL. Jacksonville looks better suited to rebound now that Nick Foles is under center, but trusting the Jaguars is a fool’s errand. Nobody ever knows what the Titans are going to do, especially considering Marcus Mariota’s lengthy injury history.
Road games in Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and LA (against the Chargers) won’t be easy, nor will their date with the Saints in New Orleans in Week 15. Home games against Denver, Oakland, and Miami look favorable for Indianapolis. Considering the overall difficulty of their road schedule, the Colts are going to need to take care of business at Lucas Oil Stadium if they have real aspirations of contending for an AFC playoff spot.
As mentioned, oddsmakers are quite a bit more bearish on the Colts’ 2019 outlook than they were all summer long:
Odds via MyBookie.ag
The Indianapolis Colts went 10-6 last season despite a miserable 1-5 start, but I’m certainly not convinced they are capable of repeating that performance in 2019. If this version of the Colts starts 1-5 (or something similar), they are not bouncing back. Given the road-heavy early portion of the schedule, it’s not crazy to think Indy could endure a slow start for the second straight year.
I’m a believer in Marlon Mack, but I’m definitely not convinced Mack’s exploits in the ground game will be able to make up for Brissett’s presence under center. Indianapolis is pretty clearly going to take a huge step back from the offense that finished last season fifth in points per game and sixth in passing yards per game. T.Y. Hilton, who topped 1,200 yards last season with Luck under center, failed to crack 1,000 the year before with Brissett throwing him the ball.
The defense played a big role in Indy’s improvement last season, but with the offense taking a big blow it’s looking as though Indy is primed for a down year. I’d be surprised if the Colts didn’t address the sudden gaping hole at quarterback in the 2020 draft. With no clear upgrades currently available, it’s going to be a long year in Indianapolis.
My Indianapolis Colts 2019 win total prediction is as follows: Bet the under on 7 ½ wins for the Colts. Given the tough road schedule, the NFC South matchups, and the fact that no divisional game is an obvious win, the Colts would be lucky to even win 7 games in 2019.
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