Colts vs. Lions Odds & Picks: A First-Half Betting Angle For Sunday
Leon Halip/Getty Images. Pictured: Kenny Golladay
Colts vs. Lions Odds
When the Colts opened as only 2.5-point favorites, I jumped on Indianapolis.
The Lions are, as always, thoroughly mediocre. The Colts offense is also very blah, but their defense has been great — the one definitely good unit that will be on the field. At under a field goal and with no home field advantage in play, it seemed like a pretty easy pick.
But as the line rose to -3 and eliminated that key number and field goal win possibility, I took a closer look. And what I saw on a closer analysis is a Colts team that looks a bit overrated and a Lions team on the rise. Indianapolis has been playing down to its competition — very weak competition, at that — and they keep digging big early holes. The Lions have been building big early leads, but are unable to hold on as the defense struggles.
So what happens when the very stoppable force meets the extremely movable object?
The Colts were always expected to have a strong defense, but few expected them to rank near the very top of the league like they did over the first month of the season. Even after struggling the last two weeks, Indianapolis has Football Outsiders’ No. 4-ranked defensive DVOA in the league. The Colts rank top five in both passing and rushing defensive DVOA.
That’s good, of course. But Indianapolis has also faced the second-easiest schedule in the NFL thus far. They’ve played four games against teams with one win or fewer. Those opponents are a combined 3-23-1 so far. The only two “good” opponents so far are Chicago and Cleveland, both 5-2 teams that look extremely overrated thus far by any real measure. The Colts have not faced a single team in the top half of the league by DVOA. They haven’t faced even one opponent with a top-13 offense.
It gets worse when you look at the other side of the field, where the Colts have failed to get into any offensive rhythm with Philip Rivers looking very old and out of sync. Indianapolis has the 22nd-ranked DVOA offense, near bottom 10 in the league, and that offense has also faced the second-easiest schedule.
The Colts offense has been bad and hasn’t even faced stiff competition.
That easy schedule is about to change in a hurry. The Colts are coming off a bye and this is a bridge game before a brutal month against the Ravens, Titans, Packers and Titans again. Indianapolis really needs this win.
The Colts are relatively healthy, but we’ll find out of they found any offense with the extra week off. More importantly, we’ll see if Indianapolis can solve its recent problem of slow starts.
Against the Browns in Week 5, Indianapolis fell behind 27-10 early in the second half. Against the Bengals in Week 6, the Colts went down 21-0 on the first play of the second quarter. The Colts keep playing down to their opponents and digging early holes. Will that be a problem against Detroit?
The Lions look average and basically are. They’re decent passing the ball. They can run a little. The defense has been around average, too.
But Detroit is trending in the right direction. The Lions are 3-1 over their last four games, and that coincides with the Lions getting back star receiver Kenny Golladay, who has juiced the offense. Detroit is averaging 28 points per game with Golladay on the field.
The Lions have also been forcing turnovers on defense. Detroit has only turned it over four times all season, but they’ve forced seven turnovers over those last four games. Rivers is permanently turnover-prone, and that’s a big red flag.
The Lions have been the opposite of the Colts early on: In Week 1, Detroit took a 20-6 lead into the early third quarter but lost to the Bears. The next week, they led 14-3 against the Packers but got blown out. In Week 4, the Lions went up 14-0 in the first five minutes on the Saints. They lost that one, too. Are you seeing the pattern yet?
The Lions are starting well but can’t finish the job. The Colts are digging early holes but waking up at halftime and fighting back late.
I still like the Colts to win, but I’m no longer as confident as I was early in the week — especially now that the line has moved to -3, I don’t see much value there, but I don’t love the Lions at +3 either.
But there’s a much better play here, and you’ve probably already figured it out: The Lions first half. Detroit has been ready early on, scoring quickly and forcing turnovers. The Colts have been mistake prone early.
You can play for a Lions halftime lead at +143 at DraftKings, the exact same odds as a Lions win. Why hold on for dear life when we know what Detroit does late when we can just bet on the early lead?
That’s the play here: A first-half Lions moneyline. And if that play is looking good, I won’t be afraid to make the obvious double down, buying back in on the Colts live if Detroit does take an early lead and the Colts are suddenly long odds. I would definitely play them to get back within a touchdown, and I’d be pretty happy playing a long odds moneyline, knowing how Detroit loves to blow things late.
The Colts need this one, and they may well get it. But don’t be surprised if the Lions take that early lead, matching what these teams have done all year.
PICK: Lions 1H ML