It is now or never for the Indianapolis Colts, who enter the final quarter of the season at 6-6 and on the outside looking in for the two AFC wild-card spots as they head into a Week 14 showdown on the road versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Indianapolis is one game behind Pittsburgh and Tennessee for the second spot, but since Frank Reich’s team already has head-to-head tiebreaker losses to both the Steelers and Oakland Raiders — who are also 6-6 — there is immense pressure to win out and make the postseason for a second straight year.
The betting particulars
All three sportsbooks available for play in Indiana — FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetRivers — list the Colts as 3-point underdogs. FanDuel is offering slightly better value at +100 compared to DraftKings and BetRivers at -107. Tampa Bay is a -114 pick as a 3-point favorite at DraftKings and Bet Rivers compared to -120 at FanDuel.
All three list the over/under at 47.5 points, with FanDuel offering even money for the over and -120 for the under. Both DraftKings and BetRivers have a -107/-114 split for the over/under, and it should be noted the number has dropped since opening at 50.5 points Saturday.
The Colts are also a +156 option on the moneyline at FanDuel, slightly better than DraftKings (+148) and BetRivers (+143). DraftKings’ offering of the Buccaneers at -167 is the best of the three, edging out BetRivers (-175) and FanDuel (-180).
Mack, Hilton questionable; Vinatieri status uncertain
Indianapolis has lost three of its last four games after a 31-17 home loss to Tennessee last Sunday, coming undone in the second half when the Titans scored 24 unanswered points to erase a 10-point deficit. While Jacoby Brissett threw for 319 yards and a touchdown, he was also intercepted twice as the Colts committed three turnovers.
Starting running back Marlon Mack and top wide receiver T.Y. Hilton were listed as questionable in Wednesday’s first injury report. Mack, who leads the team with 862 rushing yards and practiced Thursday, has missed the last two games with a broken bone in his right hand, while Hilton, whose 378 receiving yards still leads the team despite playing only seven games, has appeared in only one of the last four due to a calf injury.
The kicking woes of Adam Vinatieri are also in focus, as the NFL’s all-time leading scorer is questionable as he awaits the results of an MRI taken on his plant (left) knee. The 46-year-old Vinatieri has made just 17 of 25 field goals this season and also missed six PATs. He had two field goals blocked by the Titans last Sunday, including a 46-yarder that was returned for a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Indianapolis signed Chase McLaughlin as a contingency. McLaughlin has appeared in seven games for the Los Angeles Chargers and San Francisco 49ers this season, hitting 13 of 17 field goals and all 15 extra point attempts.
Pass-happy Buccaneers look to play spoiler
Though the Colts rank 12th in passing yards allowed per game (226.9), they have given up 776 yards and six touchdown passes in their last three games. They can expect Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston to test their secondary early and often — he is second in the NFL with 3,659 yards and tied for sixth with 23 TD passes — as the Buccaneers (5-7) rank fourth in the league in passing at 284.2 yards per game.
Winston, though, also leads the NFL with 20 interceptions and has been sacked 40 times, the second-highest total behind Arizona’s Kyler Murray (41).
Tampa Bay did Indianapolis a favor last weekend, beating Jacksonville 28-11, forcing four turnovers and scoring the first 25 points as Peyton Barber scored two first-half touchdowns. It was the first time all season Winston failed to throw a touchdown pass, but he also was not intercepted.
Bets to consider
One attractive betting option is the team total over for the Buccaneers at 25 points at -110 at FanDuel. The offer itself trumps the 24.5 over/under at -129/+100 listed at DraftKings and BetRivers. Tampa Bay has scored 26 or more points in seven games, including 28 or more in four of its last five contests. The Buccaneers have averaged 24.2 points in their five home games while the Colts have given up 23 or more in five of their last nine games versus NFC teams.
Another play worth considering is the first-half over. There is again a notable difference between FanDuel and both DraftKings and BetRivers. The former is offering an over/under of 23.5 points at +100/-120 compared to DK and BR, which posted their over/under at 23.5 at -107/-121. The Buccaneers have averaged 17.8 points in the first half of their last five games and rank third in the league with 194 points in the first two quarters.
Winston also has shown an ability to get things done at the end of the half, as Tampa Bay is second in the NFL with 46 points in the final two minutes of the first half. Indianapolis is tied for 13th with 23 points given up in the final two minutes of the opening half.
For player props, both starting Buccaneers receivers Chris Godwin and Mike Evans are worthy plays for an anytime touchdown. DraftKings and BetRivers are offering +100 for each 1,000-yard receiver. Evans rates slightly higher given he has seen more targets than Godwin against AFC South opponents by a 23-14 count, but with Colts starting cornerback Kevin Moore yet to practice this week due to an ankle injury and starting safety Malik Hooker slowed by a foot injury, the two Tampa wideouts could be in line for big receiving days.
Photo by Thomas J. Russo / USA Today Sports
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