Bills-Colts Betting Preview: The Over/Under Play With Value

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USA Today Sports. Pictured: Andrew Luck

Betting odds: Buffalo Bills at Indianapolis Colts

  • Spread: Colts -7.5
  • Over/Under: 43
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: CBS

>> All odds as of Friday morning. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets

Betting market: Surprisingly enough, 46% of bettors are on the Bills at the time of writing, despite quarterback Derek Anderson starting just his fifth game since 2011.

The line has moved in the Bills’ favor, too, as they’ve gone from +9.5 to +7.5.

There doesn’t appear to be enough sharp action to push them to the key number of +7, though, as the line has been fairly stagnant since Tuesday (see live betting data here). —Mark Gallant

Trends to know: This is the first time Andrew Luck has been a favorite of seven or more points since 2014. In his career, Luck is 8-1 straight up and 6-2-1 against the spread in this spot, according to our Bet Labs data. — John Ewing

The Bills have covered back-to-back games. Part of their success has been turnovers, as their opponents have coughed up the ball three times in each of the last two games.

Teams that average three or more takeaways in consecutive weeks have gone 130-172-9 (43%) ATS in their next game. — John Ewing

Anderson has started just three games in the past eight seasons. His last start came for the Panthers in 2016.

Anderson was 23-10-1 ATS (+11.1 units) with the Browns from 2006-09, making him the most profitable quarterback during that span. Since then, Anderson has started a total of 12 games, going 4-8 SU and 3-9 ATS (-6.1 units)

(NOTE: Does not include a 2016 “start” where Anderson had 1 pass attempt to begin game before Cam Newton replaced him.) — Evan Abrams

Biggest mismatch: Colts run defense vs. Bills run blocking

Quarterback is far from the only problem in Buffalo — the Bills offense is nearly as hopeless when it keeps the ball on the ground, thanks to putrid run-blocking efforts that landed its O-line in the cellar of Pro Football Focus’ run-blocking grades.

Running back LeSean McCoy will have to do it all by himself against a Colts run defense that has held up well this season, allowing 3.7 yards per carry and ranking fourth in PFF’s run-defense grades. — Chris Raybon

Which team is healthier? Bills

Quarterback Josh Allen (shoulder) won’t start Sunday, but the Bills are otherwise expected to have their full suite of starters with the possible exception of left guard Vladimir Ducasse (knee).

The Colts continue to have plenty of injuries on their hands, as starting receivers T.Y. Hilton (chest/hamstring) and Ryan Grant (ankle) are both uncertain for Sunday, while tight end Jack Doyle (hip) and short-yardage back Robert Turbin (shoulder) seem unlikely to play.

Note: Info as of 6 p.m. ET Thursday. See our Injury Dashboard for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff. — Ian Hartitz

DFS edge: Both of these defenses could be in play for DFS depending on your overall roster construction.

The Colts are more expensive on both sites by a substantial amount, which makes sense since they’re favored by 7.5 points.

They’re a strong play overall because the Bills can’t pass block, allowing 24 sacks this season and ranking dead last in adjusted sack rate. The Colts’ 3.0 sack projection ranks only behind the Jaguars in Week 7.

The Bills defense is an interesting punt play if you need the salary. Overall, PFF grades Buffalo as the No. 6 overall defense and the No. 4 pass rush, and its 4.9 yards per play allowed trails only the Ravens’ rate this season. Furthermore, Buffalo ranks ninth in adjusted sack rate, and the Colts boast the fourth-highest turnover rate this season. — Justin Bailey

Bets to watch: Under 43 and Under 21.5 1H (half unit each)

Anderson was at home running around with his kids 10 days ago and now will start an NFL game. That’s how bad Nathan Peterman is at quarterback.

While Anderson should have some familiarity with the playbook from his time playing for offensive coordinator Brian Daboll in Cleveland in 2009, there’s no way he will get up to speed in time. (And even if he does miraculously get up to speed, how much is he really going to improve DVOA’s worst offense by a wide margin?)

So I expect Buffalo to stay very conservative and vanilla on Sunday. Without Allen, you lose the mobility when the protection inevitably breaks down and without Peterman, you decrease the chances of pick sixes drastically.

Both of those things are good for the under.

While I have nothing positive to say about the Bills offense, Buffalo’s defense, on the other hand, is one of the most underrated units in football.

We all knew the Bills have great safeties, but their secondary is rounding into a plus-unit with the development of future All-Pro corner Tre’Davious White on the outside and Taron Johnson in the slot.

This group has only allowed 6.7 yards per pass attempt, which ranks third in the NFL. Their front seven has also played extremely well.

Not only are the Bills able to generate pressure led by a rejuvenated Jerry Hughes, they rank sixth in yards per rush (3.8). Overall, only the elite Ravens and Jaguars defenses have allowed fewer yards per play than Buffalo.

With Andrew Luck unable to throw the ball deep, the Bills will bring their very good safeties (Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde) down in the box to stifle the Colts run game and short passing onslaught.

The Colts excel on defense against the run (fourth in yards per carry), but struggle to defend the pass (which Buffalo can’t exploit). This one should be ugly, but make sure you grab the under before it dips below 43 — the most important number since the extra point rule changes.

Oh, and pray we don’t see Nathan Peterman at any point. Stuckey

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.