Bettors are warming to Colts

Posted Aug. 23, 2012 @ 3:09 p.m.
Posted By Mike Wilkening

Are the Colts a good buy-low proposition in 2012?

It’s a subject that handicappers might be pondering a little more after QB Andrew Luck’s impressive first two games for Indianapolis.

At the Cantor Gaming sportsbooks in Nevada, some bettors are taking an optimistic view on the Colts, whose win total was 5½ as of earlier this week.

“We have seen considerable action on the Over 5½ after (the) first two preseason games,” Cantor’s vice president of race and sports risk management Mike Colbert told PFW in an email Tuesday.

Todd Fuhrman, oddsmaker at the Caesars Entertainment sportsbooks, said that the Over is getting more play since the preseason started. The Colts’ win total was recently at five, he said.

“That’s not asking the Colts a heck of a lot to go 6-10 this season,” Fuhrman said.

Fuhrman also reports that Caesars has taken some money on the Colts to win the AFC South, although he didn’t believe it to be any major indication on how the public sees the division-title race unfolding. The Texans are a heavy favorite in the AFC South. However, should they falter, “(it’s) anyone’s guess” Fuhrman said about which team (Indianapolis, Jacksonville and Tennessee) would step forward.

Bettors at BetOnline.Ag, an Internet sportsbook, are also showing some confidence in the Colts’ division-title chances.

“We are getting a lot of bets on them to win the AFC South,” said Dave Mason, brand manager for BetOnline, in an email to PFW on Wednesday. As of Wednesday, the Colts were 25-1 to win the South at BetOnline, Mason said. The Colts were also long shots to win the AFC (80-1) and the Super Bowl (150-1) at BetOnlne, and some bettors have rolled the dice on the Colts at those prices of late, but “nothing crazy though," Mason said.

At BetOnline, the Colts’ win total was 5½ as of Wednesday, and most of the money had been on the Under to date, Mason said, though “over half of recent bets” have been on the Over. There also has been more interest in the Colts to cover the 10-point spread at Chicago in Week One — 60 percent of the total money has been on the Bears, down from 70 percent a couple weeks ago.

One reason handicappers could have reason to be skeptical of the 2012 Colts: they were not exactly a good bet last season. Overall, they had a 6-10 record against the spread, their worst mark since the 2002 regular season, according to Mark Lawrence’s Playbook Stat and Log Book, which compiles pointspread data. The Colts were favored only once in 2011, falling 28-24 as 1½-point home favorites vs. Kansas City.

However, the Colts appear more capable of being competitive this season, and a relatively favorable early schedule gives them a chance to build momentum. The Colts play four of their first six games at home, with the road opener at Chicago (Sept. 9) and a home tilt vs. Green Bay (Oct. 7) the toughest of these contests. The Colts also figure to be underdogs at the Jets on Oct. 14, though the Jets have hardly had a great summer. Indianapolis is likely to be favored against Minnesota (Sept. 16), Jacksonville (Sept. 23) and Cleveland (Oct. 21), assuming Luck is in the lineup. (Cantor, which set lines for the bulk of the regular season in the spring, made Indianapolis the favorite in each of those home games.)

Fourteen years ago this summer, the Colts were readying Peyton Manning for regular-season play. They had a 3-13 mark in Manning’s first season, and were 7-9 against the spread, per Jim Feist pointspread data. The Colts were favored only three times in Manning’s first season, covering twice (both wins).

The next season, they were favored 12 times, including in a playoff loss to Tennessee. It was the first of 12 consecutive seasons with Manning at the helm that the Colts were favored in the majority of their games, per Feist and Lawrence records.

If you believe in Luck, and you like the Colts as underdogs … well, 2012 might be your kind of year, for it’s hard to see Indianapolis sneaking up on a lot of teams in the seasons to come.