Thursday Night Football best bets: Colts at Broncos

By VSiN Staff  (VSiN.com) 

October 6, 2022 04:36 PM
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Week 5 of the 2022 NFL season kicks off with the 1-2-1 Colts against the 2-2 Broncos.

Throughout the season, our VSiN experts will combine to give their best bets on every game. Check back for our best bets for the rest of Week 5 as we get closer to kickoff.

Odds are from DraftKings (unless noted) as of Wednesday night.

Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos (-3.5, 42)

Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET

Adam Burke: The NFL will never remove “Thursday Night Football” from the equation, but there has been a lot of talk about scheduling such a short week in such a grueling game, and that talk won’t go away in Week 5 with Colts RB Jonathan Taylor sidelined. 

Indianapolis will go with Nyheim Hines, Deon Jackson and Phillip Lindsay in Taylor’s absence, as Lindsay has a revenge-game opportunity against his former employer. While that narrative will pick up steam, the reality is Hines has been in Frank Reich’s offensive system the longest and this is a huge game for the Colts. They should go with their most-trusted hand and that means Hines.

We can all agree that Matt Ryan hasn’t looked good with the Colts, who have been forced to throw more than they’d like because they’ve been trailing a lot this season. Hines only has eight carries. Ryan has nine. Taylor has 81. Hines is a reliable third-down back because of his pass-catching abilities and now he’s going to get more carries.

He’s averaging over four receptions per game despite playing less than a third of the offensive snaps in three of four games this season. Rather than bet on a big leap in overall production for Hines, I’d rather take a look at his receiving yards only. The Broncos have allowed the second-fewest yards to wide receivers, by the way, though part of the reason is the level of competition. 

Hines is listed at 27.5 receiving yards in this one, a number he has exceeded in just 23 of his 69 games with the Colts, but he’s also had to share snaps with Taylor. He has played at least 50% of the snaps in only 10 of those 69 games. Hines should see at least that and more Thursday night, and his receiving skills should be on full display.

Pick: Nyheim Hines Over 27.5 Receiving Yards (-110)

Josh Appelbaum: This total opened at 43.5, we saw it fall to 42.5 and it hit 42 almost across the board late Wednesday night. This signals respected money taking the Under and banking on a lower-scoring game. 

Unders are 38-26 (59%) this season. Unders that fall at least a half point are 23-15 (61%). We've also seen a big edge to primetime Unders, which are 9-4 this season and 59% since 2019. Both of these teams have been profitable to the Under this season as well, with the Colts 4-0 to the Under and the Broncos 3-1. 

Both teams feature low-scoring offenses (14 PPG for Indianapolis and 17 PPG for Denver) and stout defenses (21 PPG allowed by Indianapolis and 17 PPG allowed by Denver). Both teams will be without their star running backs, as Jonathan Taylor and Javonte Williams are out with injuries. 

On a short week, you tend to see vanilla offensive game plans. Add all of these factors up and I will be sweating the Under. 

Pick: Under 42.5 (FanDuel)

Femi Abebefe: This is far from my favorite bet of the week, but I’m once again attempting to buy low on the Colts against an AFC West opponent. The betting market was successful (and probably very fortunate) in backing Indianapolis two weeks ago against Kansas City, and I think we might have more good fortune coming up on Thursday night.

I don’t put a ton of stock into lookahead lines because the limits are low, but last week oddsmakers made this game Broncos -2.5. It's hard not to see this current line of 3.5 as a little bit of an overreaction to the Colts’ poor performance at home against the Titans.

Part of the reason for the move through the key number of 3 is the absence of the Colts’ two best players, running back Jonathan Taylor and middle linebacker Darius Leonard. However, Denver is dealing with a number of key injuries as well, including running back Javonte Williams (season-ending knee injury versus Raiders), edge rusher Randy Gregory and both starters on the right side of the offensive line.

On top of all of that, quarterback Russell Wilson popped up on the practice report this week with a shoulder injury. Wilson is fully expected to start Thursday night, but how close to 100% will he be? With that uncertainty and the potential for a low-scoring game, grabbing the points becomes that much more valuable.

Pick: Colts + 3.5

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