Colts vs. Raiders Odds Plummet, Then Rebound After Indianapolis QB Carson Wentz is Placed on COVID List
Justin Casterline/Getty Images. Pictured: Carson Wentz.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz was placed on the COVID-19 protocol list on Tuesday and is expected to miss this weekend’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders.
The game’s betting odds moved swiftly after the announcement.
The Colts were between 7.5- and 8.5-point favorites before the news broke. That number dropped to 6.5 as rumors swirled of Wentz’s absence.
They were as low as 2.5-point favorites at PointsBet after the announcement. FanDuel had them as just three-point favorites as of about 3 p.m. ET.
Then, the line rebounded.
Because Wentz is unvaccinated, he is subject to a 10-day quarantine even if he is asymptomatic. If he does have symptoms, 24 hours must have also passed since he would have experienced side effects. After the 10 days, Wentz must show two negative COVID-19 tests 24 hours apart before he can return.
But, that quarantine rule ended on Tuesday.
NFL and NFLPA now have adopted the new CDC guidelines that reduce the quarantine time to 5 days from 10 days for all Covid positive players who are asymptomatic, including those who are unvaccinated, per sources.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 28, 2021
Lucky for the Colts.
Wentz’s quarantine could end on Sunday. It’s unclear if he’d still be eligible to play, but conceivably he could if his quarantine started on Tuesday morning as opposed to Tuesday afternoon.
A quarantine starting on Tuesday morning would allow for Wentz to return on Sunday morning.
By 4:30 p.m. ET, FanDuel restored the Colts as 6.5-point favorites. Same was true at PointsBet. BetMGM priced it the same way.
DraftKings pulled lines at -6.5 at around 3 p.m. and they haven’t yet reemerged as of 4:30 p.m. ET.
It’s unclear as of Tuesday afternoon whether other members of the Colts have tested positive for the virus in addition to those already on the list.
The Colts will have to go with rookie quarterback Sam Ehlinger for his first career NFL start if Wentz can’t play.
Ehlinger was a sixth-round draft pick out of the University of Texas in the 2021 NFL Draft.
To be fair, the Colts aren’t much of a passing attack to begin with. Their offense relies on running back Jonathan Taylor, who has been the best rusher in the NFL this season.
The Colts have the No. 1 rushing offense in the NFL, according to Football Outsider’s DVOA. Meanwhile, their passing is good for just 16th in the league.
The Raiders have the 25th-best pass defense and 10th-best rush offense, according to that same metric.
The Colts still have a miniscule shot at winning the AFC South and guaranteeing themselves a home playoff game. That scenario would require Indy to take down the Raiders and Jaguars to close out the season and for the Titans to fall to the Dolphins and Texans.
But that’s very unlikely. The most likely scenario is that the Colts enter the playoffs as a wild card.
A win against the Raiders on Sunday and a Titans win against the Dolphins would guarantee Indy the No. 5 seed — no higher, no lower.
Which means a win against Las Vegas could allow them to rest all their starters for Week 18 and give themselves a de facto bye week.
It’ll be a dogfight even with Wentz on the field. But without him, the Colts might nuke their chances at earning some well-deserved rest.