This was supposed to be the Colts’ year. The elite combination of head coach Frank Reich and all-pro quarterback Andrew Luck, a decent defense, a stout offensive line — after 2018’s somewhat surprising 10-6 run that included the team’s first playoff win since 2014, expectations were high for 2019.
Then Luck shocked everyone and announced his retirement. The fans booed him. They took a lot of heat for that from the national media, but you could understand the raw reaction. Sure, with a little time to reflect, they might regret showering Luck with boos. But they’d been blindsided. In the moment, they were angry and felt betrayed.
Here’s the thing: Reich is still there. The rest of the team is still there. Jacoby Brissett is proving not to be such a steep downgrade from Luck. They’re 3-2, tied for first in the AFC South, and fresh off a major upset road win over the previously unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs, the very team that eliminated them from the postseason nine months ago.
The Colts are post-Luck, but they’re not post-skill. They’re still a pretty good football team.
And in Indiana, a state that went live with retail sports betting over Labor Day weekend and launched its first two mobile sportsbooks last Thursday, the fans still believe. And they have the betting tickets to prove it.
They like the longshot
Nationally, the Colts’ futures odds plunged immediately after the Luck news. They became the longest shot to win their division (between +400 and +500) and dropped to about 30/1 to make the Super Bowl and 60/1 to win it. Luck was good for three wins in the bookmakers’ eyes, as the Colts’ win total crashed from 9½ to 6½.
To Colts fans, that just meant they were seeing better lines and prices.
Rush Street Interactive operates both the land-based French Lick Resort sportsbook and the online BetRivers book, and Rush Street Interactive COO Mattias Stetz tells Hoosier State Bets that the Colts are the second-most bet team to win the Super Bowl across their Indiana sportsbooks. And remember: Those sportsbooks didn’t start taking bets until after Luck had retired.
At Rush Street books nationally, the Colts are only the 10th-most bet team to win the Super Bowl.
“And most of those tickets were placed before the Luck announcement,” Stetz noted. “The Colts were one of the favorites to come out of the AFC and they were heavy favorites to win their division. So when you compare betting on the Colts in Indiana and everywhere else after the Luck announcement, it’s two completely different stories.”
If Brissett and the Colts are the second-most bet Super Bowl team in the Hoosier State, we know what you’re wondering: Who’s the most bet team?
That would be the New Orleans Saints. “Maybe that has to do with Drew Brees being a Purdue alumnus,” Stetz speculated.
Nationally, the New England Patriots are the most bet Super Bowl team across Rush Street’s sportsbooks.
The most popular futures bet in Indiana, though, has nothing to do with the postseason. At the Rush Street sportsbooks, it’s on the Colts to go over 6½ wins.
Updated futures odds
There are two online sportsbooks in the state for now: BetRivers and DraftKings. Entering Week 6, the futures odds on the Colts are identical at the two books (both of which are partnered with Kambi).
Having proven themselves still a competent team with Brissett under center, their odds have come down since Week 1, to +4000 to win the Super Bowl, +1800 to win the AFC, and +175 to win the AFC South, slightly behind the Houston Texans’ +145. A week ago, before they went into Kansas City as double-digit ‘dogs and shocked the Chiefs, the Colts were +275 to win the division.
Interestingly, even in Indiana, bettors didn’t necessarily believe they could do what they did against Kansas City. Stetz said that every week so far this season, the Colts games have been among the top three most bet in the state, and Indy vs. KC was by far the most bet game of Week 5 — in part because it was a prime-time game. But the bettors didn’t clean up on the upset win for the local team.
“We actually made a tiny, tiny profit on this game in Indiana,” Stetz said. “It was close to break-even. But in the other states, we made a nice profit on this game. Still, even in Indiana, a lot of the bettors were betting against the Colts.”
The popularity of the over-6½-wins prop suggests Indiana bettors are optimistic about their team, but the modest support for a game against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs suggests they’re also realistic.
A boost for bettors
DraftKings Sportsbook in Indiana had a rougher go of it with the Chiefs game, thanks to a special “odds boost” promotion. The Colts were supposed to be +460 moneyline underdogs, but DK bumped it to +1000 as the mobile book tried to attract attention and customers for its first weekend in the state. Wisely, DraftKings limited the bets at those odds to a max of $10 — similar to how BetStars in New Jersey gave crazy 100/1 odds on Tiger Woods to win the Masters but kept the damage in check with a $10 cap.
As Darren Rovell reported, DraftKings lost $300k due to the odds boost, which 38% of its customers took a shot on. (We can do the math and see that, if 3k bettors backed the Colts, that means DK had a customer base of about 7.9k in Indiana as of Sunday.)
Nationally, the Colts were no. 1 in DraftKings’ Week 5 “power rankings,” meaning they brought in more money for bettors than any other team.
Meanwhile, the Caesars sportsbooks in Indiana had a big weekend, and it had nothing to do with the Colts. The almost-local Chicago Bears were favored to beat the Oakland Raiders in London on Sunday, and as ESPN’s David Payne Purdum reported, 93% of the money was on the Bears at the seven Caesars books in the state.
The Raiders won outright, leaving Bears bettors on the wrong side of both moneyline and spread bets. The result was a bigger win for Caesars on the game in Indiana, according to Purdum, than at its much more established sportsbooks in Las Vegas.
Photo by Jay Biggerstaff / USA Today Sports