Colts vs. Packers Odds & Picks: Back Aaron Rodgers As An Underdog On Sunday
Dylan Buell/Getty Images. Pictured: Aaron Rodgers (left) hands off to Aaron Jones.
Colts vs. Packers Odds
In one of the most anticipated matchups of the Week 11 slate, Aaron Rodgers and the 7-2 Packers head to Lucas Oil Stadium to take on Phillip Rivers and the 6-3 Colts.
The Packers narrowly escaped with a 24-20 win against the lowly Jaguars in Week 10 while the Colts are coming off 10 days rest and a 34-17 Thursday night victory over the Titans.
Oddsmakers opened the Colts as as 1-point favorites with a total of 49, and we’ve since seen movement on both the side and the total. The Colts were bet up to as high as -2.5 before being bet down to -2, while the total was bet up from 49 to where it sits at 52.5 as of Sunday afternoon.
So where’s the betting value in this matchup?
Green Bay Packers
The Packers come into this game in the unfamiliar underdog role.
This may be the last time we see them there this season, as their upcoming games are against the Bears (twice), Eagles, Lions, Panthers and Titans.
Nonetheless, during the Matt LaFleur era, the Packers have been successful as underdogs, going 5-1 straight up and against the spread over the past two seasons. Their only loss was a 38-7 setback at the hands of the eventual NFC champion 49ers, who had the Packers’ number last season.
Trends aside, Rodgers is showing why he has the third-best MVP odds. The 36-year-old is first in ESPN’s Total QBR (84.7), passer rating (116.4), sixth in passing yards, and second in both touchdown passes (26) and Football Outsiders’ DVOA. It’s no coincidence the Packers are second in offensive efficiency this season (per Sharp Football Stats).
The Packers have seen their offensive numbers suppressed playing games with heavy winds at Lambeau field two out of the last three weeks.
The same Packers who put up 30-plus points in every game except their matchup against a No. 1-ranked Bucs defense were held to fewer than 30 points for the first two times all season against the Jaguars and Vikings. Now that the Packers are playing in a dome, we should expect to see higher output, even for a team that’s third in points scored with 30.8 per game and sixth in yards per game at 395.8.
Left tackle David Bakhtiari returned from broken ribs last week and signed a four-year, $103.5 million contract extension that makes him the highest-paid offensive lineman in the game. Nonetheless, he should be good to go, as is wide receiver Allen Lazard, who returned from injured reserve on Tuesday.
Davante Adams will play Sunday after missing practice this week, and hopes to build on his fantastic season with 61 receptions for 741 yards and nine touchdowns. Of course, Aaron Jones is one of the best running backs in the league and although Indianapolis’ run defense is giving up just 3.5 yards per carry, he’s also a threat to catch passes out of the backfield.
The Packers are just 16th in defensive efficiency, 16th against the pass and 22nd against the run. Defending running backs and tight ends have been a major issue for this unit, as they rank 31st in both. Fortunately, the Packers get cornerbacks Jaire Alexander and Kevin King back this week which should be huge in their ability to cover T.Y. Hilton and Michael Pittman Jr.
There’s some interesting trends that support the Colts in this matchup, as they are 11-1 straight up and 10-1-1 against the spread when laying four or fewer points under head coach Frank Reich. Still, the Colts have yet to prove they can beat good teams in 2020.
Despite starting the season with a 6-3 record, the Colts’ six victories come against teams that have a combined record of 21-33 with a point differential of -246: Vikings, Jets, Bears, Bengals, Lions and Titans. Even removing the lowly Jets from the equation, this still doesn’t look good.
Nearly every advanced defensive metric tells us that the Colts have a top-tier defense as they’re ranked fourth in defensive efficiency and fourth against both the pass and the run. They’re also fifth in expected points added per play, fifth in total success rate and seventh in early down success rate.
This stingy defense is allowing a league-best 290.4 total yards and only 19.7 points per game, fourth behind the Ravens, Rams and Steelers.
On the surface it’s impressive, but upon digging into the schedule, it becomes immediately clear that the Colts haven’t played anyone. They’ve played just one quarterback who is in the top 10 in QBR this season in Ryan Tannehill, and it took a disastrous performance from the Titans’ special teams unit to hand the Colts the game on a silver platter.
QBR Ranks of Colts Opposing QBs So Far
- Gardner Minshew: 26th (53.8)
- Kirk Cousins: 21st (63.8)
- Sam Darnold: 29th (39.6)
- Nick Foles: 28th (44.4)
- Baker Mayfield: 14th (71.3)
- Joe Burrow: 23rd (59.0)
- Matthew Stafford: 17th (66.4)
- Lamar Jackson: 18th (65.3)
- Ryan Tannehill: 9th (75.0)
Now the Colts face Rodgers, who is first in QBR and leads a second-ranked offense, which means this game comes down to whether you think the Colts can keep up offensively.
Rivers has been solid. He’s seventh in completion percentage (68.7) and he has a healthy batch of weapons in Zach Pascal, Mo Alie-Cox, Hilton, Michael Pittman Jr., Nyheim Hines and Jonathan Taylor.
However, the Colts are just 18th in offensive efficiency, 20th in passing efficiency and 18th in rushing efficiency despite having an offensive line that’s allowed a league-low nine sacks all year. The Packers defense leaves a lot to be desired, so you’d expect a decent output from this unit, however, the Colts aren’t a dominant offense despite playing the seventh-easiest schedule of opponent offenses.
The Colts are also just 25th in red-zone touchdown percentage, scoring on just 55.9% (19-34) of their trips inside the opponents’ 20-yard line and they are also 30th in third down conversion percentage (37.50).
Although, the Packers have been susceptible to the run, the Colts’ offensive line is just 23rd in adjusted line yards and has struggled to generate a consistent push all season. Indianapolis running backs Taylor and Hines are averaging just 3.8 yards per carry this season. The Colts ran for just 3.1 yards per carry against a Lions defense that gives up 4.7 yards per carry and 141.6 yards per game on the ground.
This is also an offense that struggles to get the ball to their wide receivers. Their wide receivers have just 107 catches for 1,322 yards and two touchdowns on the season, which rank 20th, 24th and 31st, respectively, among all NFL teams.
The Colts have a top-five defense, but they allowed 27 points in a loss to Gardner Minshew and a 23rd-ranked Jaguars offense. That could be forgiven given that it was the first week of the season in a year with limited training camp and no preseason. However, the Colts also gave up 27 points in a comeback win to rookie Joe Burrow and the Bengals in a Week 6 home game.
The Colts’ troubles didn’t stop there, as they have since given up 32 points to Baker Mayfield and 24 points to Lamar Jackson.
Here’s the kicker: None of those offenses are in the top 10 in offensive efficiency, and none are ranked higher than 19th in passing offense. So how do the Colts slow down the Packers, who will be playing in a dome after weeks of playing in windy games that suppressed their offensive output?
Do you have faith in Old Man Rivers to keep up with Rodgers and a Packers offense that’s second in offensive efficiency and is scoring 30.8 points per game?
Although the Packers defense isn’t anything to write home about, the Packers have the defensive reinforcements they need with Alexander and King returning from injury.
There’s been some sharp money on the Colts this week, however, I don’t agree with it as my model makes this game a pick’em. I like the Packers to win this game outright and recommend taking them with the points or the moneyline.
I’d also recommend adding them to 6-point teasers with the Eagles.
PICK: Packers +2