NFL Odds & Picks
This is the time to buy low on the Colts.
For as bad as they’ve looked, it’s important to remember they haven’t played a home game yet. The lookahead line for this game was Colts +2.5. Did we learn that much about the Colts in two weeks to move the line an entire field goal?
I would argue not: Divisional dogs tend to own favorites in Week 1, and the Jaguars always own the Colts in Jacksonville.
It’s teams like the Colts who crush in this kind of spot. According to our Action Labs data, winless home teams entering Week 3 facing a visitor with at least one win are 31-19-2 (62%) ATS since 2005.
And Week 3 dogs with at least one ATS loss who open under a TD are 89-54-2 (64%) ATS since 2005.
The shutout in Jacksonville was appalling, but the offense will be in much better shape with the return of Michael Pittman, who went off for nine catches, 121 yards and a TD in Week 1.
On defense, the Colts should be able to hold up better than the Gus Bradley iterations with the Raiders because the Chiefs no longer have Tyreek Hill to beat Bradley’s preferred single-high coverage.
Since 2005, dogs coming off a shutout loss are 41-21-3 (66%) ATS since 2005, beating the spread by an average of 2.73 points per game.
We should get the Colts’ best effort in this spot. It’s their home opener after they’ve been ridiculed all week, and I expect them to be more physical than a Chiefs team that hasn’t played in 10 days.
While Andy Reid is known to be good with extra time to prepare, that narrative doesn’t hold up in these spots. With 9-13 days rest, Reid is 7-10 (41%) ATS since 2008, including 5-7 on exactly 10 days of rest after playing on Thursday Night Football the previous week.
The Colts are 9-3-1 as a dog catching more than a field goal under Frank Reich, beating the spread by an average of 5.31 points per game. One of those wins was a 19-13 upset of the Chiefs in 2019 as a 10.5-point underdog.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs are just 7-17 (29%) ATS over their last 24 games when favored by more than a field goal.
FanDuel Quickslip: Colts +5.5
Despite operating as the Panthers starting tight end, Thomas has been held to 13 yards or fewer 13 of 19 games (68%) since the start of last season.
In Week 2, he saw his route participation rate drop from 58% to 50% — and now this week, offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo says he wants to get wide receivers more involved. The Saints have allowed the seventh-fewest receiving yards to tight ends (43), including just 19 to Kyle Pitts on seven targets in Week 1.
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Despite a rough preseason, Burks has been a revelation thus far in the otherwise malignant Titans offense.
Burks posted 55 yards in his debut against the Giants and still managed 47 against the Bills on Monday Night Football in a game in which Tennessee only passed for 123 yards. He did that despite running a route on only 48% of the team’s dropbacks and he is fifth among wide receivers through two weeks with 3.40 yards per route run (minimum 10 targets).
Burks is the Titans leader in catches and yards through two weeks, and his route participation rate did improve from 37% in Week 1 to 61% in Week 2. He could see another jump this week with fellow rookie Kyle Phillips — who happens to be second on the team in targets in yards — listed as doubtful with a shoulder injury.
Houston has a good shot at pulling off the upset here.
Through two games, the Texans rate as the better team on offense (26th in DVOA vs 30th), defense (16th vs 27th) and special teams (17th vs 24th). Houston’s total team PFF grade of 60.2 is 28th, which is obviously not good, but it’s still over 10 points above Chicago’s league-worst 50.1.
On offense, the Texans’ biggest strength is that they don’t turn the ball over. Davis Mills has yet to throw an interception and has the NFL’s fourth-lowest turnover-worthy play rate (1.2), per PFF. Contrast that with Justin Fields, who has already thrown two picks on 40 dropbacks and has the NFL’s highest turnover-worthy play rate (9.8%) by over three percentage points over the next-highest passer.
The Bears won’t be able to hide Fields the entire game, and this is a tough matchup for him against a Love Smith zone defense that will always keep eyes on him as a runner. Fields leads the NFL in average time to throw (3.54) by over a half second, and I expect Smith’s looks to confuse him.
The Texans have arguably the two most explosive players in this game in wide receiver Brandin Cooks and running back Dameon Pierce. And while the Texans have been average on offense in early downs (which tends to be most predictive of future success), the Bears are at or near the bottom of the league.
- First down passing DVOA: HOU 14th, CHI 32nd
- First down offensive DVOA: HOU 14th, CHI 30th
- Second down passing DVOA: HOU 14th, CHI 32nd
- Second down offensive DVOA: HOU 12th, CHI 20th
According to our Action Labs data, winless dogs +1.5 to +7 are 127-81-4 (61%) ATS in Weeks 2-4 since 2005, including 40-26-2 (61%) in Week 3.
Houston is also a fit for our “Road dog, low total after a bad season” PRO trend, which I’ve modified a bit to make even stronger while maintaining its A grade.
FanDuel Quickslip: Texans +3
Collins lines up on the left side of the formation for the majority of his snaps, meaning he will most often match up against Bears right cornerback Jaylon Johnson, who teams are simply not throwing at this season.
According to PFF, Johnson has been targeted three times and allowed one reception on 65 snaps in coverage.
Collins’ catch rate is just 50% this season and 54.2% for this career, so he’s unlikely to hit four receptions. He’s been under this number in 12 of 16 career games.
He is also not playing true starter snaps, as his route participation rate this season is 75%, which is more akin to a no. 3 WR than a No. 2.
Wilson followed up a 4/52/0 rookie debut with a 8/102/2 breakout game last week against the Browns, giving him an average of 77.0 receiving yards through two games. More impressively, he put up those numbers despite running a route on just 65% of Jets dropbacks.
Wilson’s route participation did jump from 56% in Week 1 to 75% last week, and it should continue to climb as he already looks like one of the best WRs in the league. He’s averaging 11 targets per game, and his target rate per route of 31% is an elite figure that ranks seventh among WRs (min. 50 routes).
I’d bet this totally all the way up to 54.5. The Bengals have already given up 55-plus receiving yards to Noah Brown (91), CeeDee Lamb (75) and Diontae Johnson (55) this season.