Raiders vs. Colts Odds & Picks: Expect Points On Sunday
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images. Pictured: Philip Rivers.
Raiders vs. Colts Odds
Fresh off a thrilling come-from-behind victory against the Jets, the 7-5 Raiders host the 8-5 Colts in an AFC showdown with playoff implications.
The Raiders hope to keep their wild card chances alive while the Colts look to keep pace in the race for the AFC South after last week’s 26-20 win over the divisional rival Texans.
We’ve seen some slight movement to both the side and total throughout the week, but where is the betting value now?
Let’s find out!
After playing 16 seasons with the Chargers, Philip Rivers will make his 29th start against the Raiders. He holds 18 career victories against them, more than he has against any other team he’s faced throughout his career.
Rivers isn’t at the top of any advanced metrics, but he’s having a solid season, passing for 3,263 yards with 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions with his lowest interception rate (2.1%) since 2017.
He’s been dealing with a turf toe injury that he suffered after attempting to block Packers outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith in the Colts’ Week 11 win. While Rivers was limited in practice, his injury shouldn’t be too much of a concern — he bounced back from a down Week 12 performance to complete 27-of-35 passes for 285 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions with a 119.3 rating in Week 13.
The Colts are average in advanced offensive metrics such as Football Outsiders’ DVOA, expected points added per play and total success rate, however they’re top 10 in points per game (27.3). This offense struggles to run the ball and is tied for dead last in yards per carry (3.7) with a 45% success rate behind an offensive line that’s just 27th in adjusted line yards.
This makes the season Rivers is having rather impressive, as the Colts are 10th in passing success rate (51%) and have to overcome a run game that constantly leaves them behind the chains.
Indianapolis received some good news this week as left tackle Anthony Castonzo was listed as questionable after suffering an MCL injury in Week 12 With backup Le’Raven Clark on IR with a torn achilles, Castonzo’s presence will be huge for this unit. Should he not be able to go, we can expect the Colts to play heavier sets with two tight ends featuring Mo Alie-Cox and Trey Burton.
From 12 personnel, the Colts have a 58% passing success rate, a 124.1 passer rating at 8.4 yards per attempt with just three sacks this season. They’ve run just 18% of their total plays in 12 personnel, but even without Castonzo the Colts should have success against a Raiders defense that’s allowed a 125.7 passer rating, 11.1 yards per pass and recorded zero sacks to two-tight end sets.
The Colts are sixth in defensive efficiency, fifth against the pass and 11th against the run. They’re holding teams to just 22.8 points per game and have done a great job at making teams one-dimensional, holding opponents to just 3.8 yards per carry.
The Colts’ defensive line featuring DeForest Buckner, Justin Houston and Denico Autry has been dominant — they combined to sack Deshaun Watson five times last week. But as I’ve stressed throughout the season, this unit isn’t nearly as good as their metrics say they are.
In their 12 games this season, they’ve played just three teams with a quarterback who was top 10 in QBR and had a top-10 passing offense: Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, Ryan Tannehill and the Titans, and Watson and the Texans.
When the Colts have played a top-10 passing offense, they’ve allowed 50% of pass plays to be successful — 3% below league average. This is a unit that has allowed 27 points in a loss to Gardner Minshew, 32 points to Baker Mayfield and 24 points to Lamar Jackson. None of those quarterbacks are in the top 10 in QBR, nor are their offenses in the top 10 in efficiency.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders have one of the NFL’s better offenses. We’ve seen this unit go toe-to-toe with the Chiefs twice and it’s averaging 26.9 points per game while ranking eighth in success rate (47.4%) and 10th in expected points added per play.
This offense ranks just outside the top 10 in passing efficiency and explosive pass play rate with 10% of their pass plays going for 20 or more yards. They also rank third in third down conversion percentage (48.7%), facing a Colts defense that’s average in opponent third down conversion percentage (15%)
Derek Carr has seen his completion percentage drop in recent games, but he’s still having a solid season in which he’s thrown for 3,027 yards, 22 touchdowns and just five interceptions while ranking eighth in QBR (72.5) and quarterback rating (104.1).
He comes off a game in which he completed 28-of-47 passes for 381 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
Tight end Darren Waller has continued his dominant season, leading the team in targets (107), receptions (77), yards (742) and receiving touchdowns (7), and hopes to build off last week’s performance against the Jets in which he caught 13 receptions for 200 yards and two touchdowns.
Unfortunately for the Raiders, the Colts rank third with a 43% success rate against opposing tight ends and give up just 5.2 yards per attempt, second in the NFL. That means the Raiders can’t completely rely on Waller for reliable offense in this matchup.
Although the Raiders expect Josh Jacobs to return from an ankle injury after missing last week’s game against the Jets, with the Colts giving up just 3.7 yards per carry on the ground, a run-heavy offensive attack isn’t ideal against this unit.
Las Vegas also welcomes the return of right tackle Trent Brown, who missed five weeks due to COVID-19. His return should give Carr extra time to pass against this Colts’ pass rush.
We saw the Raiders switch up their tendencies and pass on 72% of early downs in last week’s game against the Jets. It’s possible that we’ll see the Raiders throw more against the Colts this week, as well.
Henry Ruggs caught the game-winning pass in last week’s win and is one of the NFL’s fastest players who can stretch the field and score on nearly any play. Nelson Agholor has also been a solid target for Carr.
The Raiders’ success in this matchup will depend on their offensive output thanks to one of the worst defenses in the league — they’re 28th in points allowed (28.9 per game) and rank 24th in defensive efficiency. They’re allowing 57% of runs to grade out successful and 49% of passes to grade out successful, which are 25th and 20th among all NFL teams.
Excluding their Week 1 loss to the Jaguars, the Colts have performed well against below-average defenses. They’ve scored 28, 36, 31, 41, 34, 34, 26 and 26 points against the Vikings, Jets, Bengals, Lions, Titans, Packers, Titans (again) and Texans.
Indianapolis’ worst offensive performances was against Baltimore and Chicago, which are ranked seventh and eighth in defensive DVOA and give up 19.3 and 23.7 points per game. It’s no surprise the Colts scored 10 and 19 points in those matchups. By comparison, Las Vegas is just 24th in defensive DVOA and are giving up 28.9 points per game.
With both the offensive line and the receiving weapons healthy, the Colts should see an above-average scoring output in this matchup.
On the other side of the ball, the Colts have struggled against top-10 offenses and the Raiders are on the cusp of that. This Raiders offense is arguably better than any offense the Colts have faced outside of the Packers, Titans and Texans.
My projections for this game make this 53.5 so I’ll look to play the over.
Pick: Over 51.5