How to Bet Every Indianapolis Colts Game in 2020
The NFL season is around the corner -- even if that corner is a little farther down the block than it may normally be. Despite that, FanDuel Sportsbook has given us tons and tons and tons (did I mention tons?) of offerings to wager on for the 2020 season.
One of them includes game-by-game spreads and moneylines for a few teams, including the Indianapolis Colts.
Which Colts games offer value?
So, we don't know the week-by-week schedule for the NFL, but we do know home and road opponents for the year. Thus, we know every matchup and can adjust for home/road context.
Using win totals and betting lines attached to them, we can approximate point differential for a team. If you're a numberFire regular, you'll know our nERD metric well. It indicates expected point differential against an average opponent on a neutral field. Regressing win totals and betting odds on those totals allowed me to approximate nERD for 2020.
From there, we can simulate a team's schedule a few thousand times to see where value is available.
The Schedule and Results
The table here lists the Colts' home/road status and their opponent. Next, it's the actual spread and moneyline listed on FanDuel Sportsbook.
After that, it's the average point differential for the Colts in the simulated games. This also reflects the expected nERD differential between the teams going into the matchup. Over 10,000 simulations, things average out to around the same number. I also listed the percentage of games in which the Colts covered the spread.
The final two columns indicate moneyline and outright win information: the percentage of simulated games won and the value on the moneyline (compared to their listed moneyline odds).
Sooo, the big thing here is that the Colts covered the spread very often.
The reason for it? They have a win total of 8.5 games, accompanied with -160 odds on the over. They're being bet as closer to a nine-win team than a .500 squad. Pair this with the fact that the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars are trending down since the draft, and the Colts are easy to value as a borderline 10-win team.
That affects the spreads a lot, and we should take advantage soon.
The Best Value Spots
Let's stick with that AFC South rivalry between the Colts and Texans. Indianapolis is a 1.5-point underdog on the road against the Texans. Houston's win total is just 7.5 with -120 odds on the under. We're looking at a sizable gap between these divisional foes, yet the Colts are getting points in this one. Even adjusting for home-field advantage, Indianapolis has value in that matchup.
The Cleveland Browns are a popular feature in this series because of their betting trends. They, like the Colts, have a win total set at 8.5 games, but whereas the Colts are -160 to go over, the Browns are -130 to go under. Despite that, the Colts are getting 1.5 points in this contest. Home field advantage should be lessened without crowds, and either way, the Colts should beat the Browns if the preseason betting trends hold up.
I'm really surprised by the line on their game against the Baltimore Ravens. The Colts are at home for this one but are 2.5-point underdogs. The reason I'm surprised is that -- after adjusting for a small home field advantage -- the Colts are pretty close to the Ravens. Baltimore's up at a staggering 11.5 wins. The under is coming in at -125. The Ravens still rate out as the better team for sure, but the sims like Indy the edge them outright more than half the time. This has everything to do with the odds backing the Colts that drive up their expected point differential.
After those games, it's a pretty common theme to see the Colts getting a small amount of points in road games against teams that are fairly middling based on the preseason data: the Las Vegas Raiders (-115 to go under 7.5 wins), the Pittsburgh Steelers (-110 to go under 9.0 wins), and the Chicago Bears (-115 to go under 8.5 wins).
Overall, Indianapolis is a strong public team right now, and it's creating value opportunities in a lot of their games. Even if you're a little bearish on Philip Rivers and company in 2020, they're still at least a little undervalued in these single-game bets on FanDuel Sportsbook.