Colts vs. Bengals Odds & Picks: How To Find Betting Value on Sunday’s Matchup
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: DeForest Buckner
Colts vs. Bengals Odds
For a team with a 1-3-1 record that had the worst record in the NFL last season, the Bengals have shown clear improvement to start the 2020 season.
Rookie Joe Burrow has looked every bit the part of a franchise QB at this stage in his career, and Cincinnati has remained competitive in every game except for last week’s blowout loss to the Ravens. The Bengals started the season 4-0 against the spread, although that depends what you got their Week 1 line at, before their Week 5 blowout loss in Baltimore.
Like Cincinnati, the Colts also had a difficult Week 5. Indianapolis suffered a tough loss to the Browns that saw Philip Rivers throw two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. The Colts are 3-2, and their offense is yet to really click.
Is a game against the Bengals just what the doctor ordered for Rivers and the Colts? Let’s take a look.
The Bengals have been a little better than expected this season, clearly improved from last season’s 2-14 team. They played the Chargers and Browns to one-score games over the first two weeks, before a tie against the Eagles preceded the first win of Burrow’s career in Week 4 against the Jaguars.
Burrow has played well with Joe Mixon showing a big sign of life out of the backfield with three touchdowns against the Jaguars. Cincinnati’s defense also has been better than expected, ranking around the league average in most metrics.
So what happened against the Ravens last week?
The Bengals got dominated in the trenches, particularly their offensive line. Their offensive line ranks dead last in Football Outsiders‘ pass-blocking metric and in the bottom seven in run blocking. The Bengals have one of the worst lines in the league. Against teams without a fearsome front seven, Cincinnati held its own. Against Baltimore’s elite pass rush, though, the wheels came off.
Burrow and Co. can only do so much if their opponent is in the backfield all game.
The Colts were projected to be a potential playoff contender with a solid, well-rounded team. Rivers was brought in as a short-term solution at quarterback, while their defensive line was strengthened by acquiring DeForest Buckner from the 49ers. Those acquisitions have, thus far, yielded differing results.
Rivers is yet to find his way with the Colts’ offense. He has four touchdowns and five interceptions through five games, showing a lack of chemistry with his receiving weapons.
Part of that is due to Indianapolis’ lack of health. Tackle Anthony Castonzo has been out with a rib injury, although he’s expected to return against Cincinnati, while running back Marlon Mack is out for the season after tearing his Achilles. Wide receiver Parris Campbell is out indefinitely due to knee surgery, while tight ends Jack Doyle and Trey Burton have missed time due to injury, as well.
The defense has been a completely different story. Buckner has been as good as advertised and more, and Indianapolis has Football Outsiders’ No. 1 DVOA defense. Indianapolis has been the best in the league against the pass and fourth-best against the run, the latter of which is thanks to the Colts’ dominance up front.
Rivers might not break out against an average Bengals defense, but Indianapolis’ defense could make life difficult for Burrow, as it has already for multiple quarterbacks this season.
This matchup has strong overtones of last week’s Ravens-Bengals game that saw Burrow and the Cincinnati offense get shut down. The Bengals have improved defensively, but they’re still consistently losing the battle in the trenches. That’s music to the Colts’ ears, as Buckner and the rest of the Indianapolis defensive front could spend a lot of time in Cincinnati’s backfield.
The Colts may not run away with this one, in part because their offense is still finding its way. A low-scoring game could leave Cincinnati a chance to cover, something that Burrow clearly has a penchant for early in his NFL career.
I like the Colts at -7.5, but I don’t love them. This is the perfect spot for a tease, though. A six-point tease crosses off seven, six and three, leaving three key numbers in the dust and meaning the Colts pretty much just have to win the game. With their defense playing as well as it is, that should be enough for Indianapolis.
With an expected lack of scoring, I would lean toward the under here if you’d like to play a total. Both teams have hit the under in their totals in three of five games this season, and their games have been at 47 or fewer points in all but three games. Both teams’ strengths are on defense, so under the current total of 46 looks like a solid play. You might even tease Colts -7.5 with the under to give you a little wiggle room.
I think the best play here might be the Bengals team under-19.5. Remember, Cincinnati scored only three points against the Ravens last week — and the Colts’ defense has been even better than Baltimore.
PICK: Tease Colts -7.5; Bengals Under -19.5