Win and you’re in.
That’s the simple mantra for the Indianapolis Colts, who control their destiny and will qualify as a wild card in the AFC if they complete the regular season with a victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on the road Sunday.
The Colts (9-7) enter the weekend holding the second wild card spot, which is the No. 6 seed. A victory, coupled with a New England loss to Miami, would move Indianapolis up to the No. 5 seed by virtue of its Week 15 win over the Patriots. The Colts could back into the postseason if they are upset by the Jaguars (2-14), but would need the Patriots, Los Angeles Chargers, and Baltimore Ravens to all lose.
Indianapolis had a three-game winning streak snapped last Sunday with a 23-20 loss at home to Las Vegas. Jonathan Taylor rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown, but the offense failed to get much traction overall — the Colts were 3 for 11 on third down, had 262 total yards, and Carson Wentz completed 16 of 27 passes for only 148 yards.
The good news is the Colts have proven themselves a strong road team, winning their last four outside Indianapolis and five of seven overall. They also have a win over the Jaguars this season, beating them 23-17 at home in Week 10 after racing to a 17-0 lead in the first 12:12 of the contest and turning back a late rally by Jacksonville rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
That loss triggered Jacksonville’s current eight-game losing streak, which was extended last Sunday from a 50-10 pummeling administered by New England. Lawrence suffered the fate of many a rookie quarterback facing Patriots coach Bill Belichick: a lopsided loss with some ugly numbers, as the No. 1 overall pick was intercepted three times, sacked twice, and went 17 for 27 for 193 yards and a touchdown.
Taylor, who is a mortal lock to win the rushing crown as he enters this game with 1,734 yards, is looking for his fifth consecutive 100-yard game and 11th overall. He also had his career high of 253 yards in last season’s home win over Jacksonville. While the top running back in the MVP race, he is still a longshot for the award behind quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and late-charging Joe Burrow. Still, for NFL bettors who believe, Taylor can be grabbed at +1600 at DraftKings compared to +1400 at multiple sportsbooks.
Huge spread despite horrific history in Jacksonville
The Maniac's last 2 games:
• 3 forced fumbles
• 2 interceptions pic.twitter.com/d7kZC3fr6G
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) January 6, 2022
Sportsbooks across Indianapolis have made the Colts more than two-touchdown favorites for this game, which makes sense given that Frank Reich’s team has everything to play for while the Jaguars are simply playing out the string. But it should be noted that the Jags have given the Colts fits at TIAA Bank Field, winning the last six matchups there. Jacksonville’s 27-20 victory to open the 2020 season was its last, which led to the Jaguars being able to select Lawrence.
In Friday morning line shopping, the most popular offering was Colts -15, with DraftKings, Betway, PointsBet, Caesars, and WynnBET all offering that number at -110. FanDuel opted for the low road with the Colts -14.5 at -115, while theScore Bet (-110) and BetMGM (-115) both had the Colts -15.5 points.
There was little variance in the total, with 44 the number everywhere but WynnBET at 43.5 (-110). BetMGM was the only book to stray off the standard -110 with a -115/-105 split. The most common offering for the Colts’ team total was 29.5 points, though PointsBet’s offerings straddled that number with a -131/+110 play for 28.5 points and +105/-125 for 30.5 points.
FanDuel had the best offering for the over at 29.5 points with -116, followed by the Kambi platform powering BetRivers, Unibet, and Twinspires all at -118. Caesars was offering even money on the under for 29.5 points, with DraftKings lurking at -110.
First-half plays to ponder
He didn't need an extra game to break the record. pic.twitter.com/0R8LB9SxD7
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) January 4, 2022
With the full-game moneyline starting at -1000 for the Colts, there is slightly better value in picking them for the first half — with an emphasis on slight. The best play is the 3-way line on the Kambi platform at -385, with DraftKings and FanDuel (both -450) the only other plays below -500.
The most common spread for the first half was Colts -8.5, with DraftKings the best play at -110 — though FanDuel was offering -7.5 at a semi-reasonable -120. BetMGM, Caesars, and theScore all were offering the Colts -9.5 at -110.
The options for the first-half total were either 22.5 or 23 points. On the low side, BetMGM and theScore had the best value for the over at -120, and they along with the Kambi trio were offering even money on the under. At 23 points, DraftKings was the top play for the over at -105, whole FanDuel and WynnBET offered -110 for the under.
The most popular total for the Colts for the first half was 15.5 points, though FanDuel was offering even money for the over at 14.5 points as part of a +100/-120 split. At 15.5 points, BetRivers, Unibet, and Twinspires all offered a -117/-120 split, while DraftKings had -120/-110 and Betway -130/-120. WynnBET and PointsBet also were offering 14.5 points with a -125/-105 split.
Photo: Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports