What do a kid who ate a Lego brick, me holding my wife’s purse, and the Indianapolis Colts all have in common?
Answer: They’re all playing the “waiting game”.
With rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson in concussion protocols, the Colts are watching and waiting to see who their starter will be when they visit the Baltimore Ravens in Week 3.
If Richardson sits, Indianapolis has a capable backup in Gardiner Minshew. And that then poses the question to football bettors: how much is the difference in QB worth to the spread?
As it stands, Baltimore is a sizable home favorite despite having injury issues of its own. A thinning Ravens roster has become commonplace in recent seasons, with the offensive line missing starters, the defense dinged up, the rushing attack down bodies, and receiver Odell Beckham Jr. sidelined.
Colts vs Ravens odds
Colts vs Ravens predictions
Jackson, of course, is up to the task. He’s one the greatest one-man shows in NFL history and proved it last week with 237 yards passing and an additional 54 yards on the ground, leading Baltimore to a win over the Bengals.
That effort with his legs topped his rushing yards total of 45.5 in Week 2 and his Week 3 prop is parked around the same spot, with bookies dealing Lamar’s rushing output at 46.5 O/U against the Colts.
Most player models for Jackson sit north of 50 yards on the ground with the consensus around 54 yards. And while there is one projection at 43 yards, a well-respected projection model presents a ceiling closer to 71 rushing yards from Jackson in Week 3.
Jackson has turned heads with his arm in the past two games, completing 74.5% of his throws for an average of 7.4 yards per attempt in Todd Monken’s new offense. What’s most impressive is that Jackson has made 89% of these throws from within the pocket, but that doesn’t mean Lamar isn’t looking to run.
The Indianapolis Colts have done a good job creating pressure on the passer, sitting 11th in pressure rate per dropback, and have 11 hurries and eight sacks through two games. Jackson has been pretty chill with one of the lowest pressure rates faced but still sits second in the league with 11 QB scrambles.
If Indy can get after this offensive line missing two starters, Jackson could find himself on the run a lot more. He’s faced Gus Bradley’s schemes three times in his career: Jackson went for 86 yards on 12 carries vs. Las Vegas in Week 1 of the 2021 season and had 39 yards on 13 runs and 54 yards on nine attempts in two games with the Chargers in 2018.
Conditions may not be great for passing either, on top of injuries to WRs Odell Beckham Jr. and Devon Duvernay. The forecast for Baltimore is calling for a 62% chance of rain into the afternoon and wind gusts of 20+ mph on Sunday. That could have passing plays breaking down and leave Jackson to improvise on his own — which isn’t a terrible option.
This rushing yards total for Week 3 actually opened as low as 43.5 yards and has ticked upwards to 46.5, but given the projections for Jackson and the game situation, there’s still plenty of headroom for the Over.
My best bet: Lamar Jackson Over 46.5 rushing yards (-110)
Picks made at time of writing may not reflect live odds.
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Colts vs Ravens same-game parlay
Most player models call for 50+ with a ceiling of 70 yards. Lamar is always live to break off big gains on the ground.
The Colts could be running with a backup QB and a backup center, which could slow down this otherwise fast offense. Add to an outdoor venue on grass with rain and wind in the forecast.
With Odell and Duvernay dinged up and Andrews getting healthier by the day, look for the Ravens tight end to have a big day in the middle of this soft Indy zone.
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Colts vs Ravens spread and Over/Under analysis
The look-ahead lines set in the summer had Baltimore laying between -7 and -8.5 in this Week 3 game and even with all the injury uncertainty, the official Week 3 spread is pretty much on the nose. Depending on where you bet, the Ravens range from -7.5 to -8.5.
My NFL power ratings pumped out an unadjusted spread closer to Baltimore -11, before factoring in a laundry list of ailments for the Ravens. Covers Consensus shows 57% of early picks on the home side, with Baltimore starting 2-0 SU and ATS in 2023.
While the value difference between Richardson and Minshew may not be much, one injury not getting enough attention is Colts center Ryan Kelly. He’s also in concussion protocols and sat out Wednesday’s practice, leaving little time to get cleared for Sunday.
Head coach Shane Steichen has transferred his former playbook in Philadelphia over to Indy, looking to utilize Richardson and Kelly the same way he anchored the Eagles attack in Jalen Hurts and center Jason Kelce. Having a backup QB and a backup center would definitely impact the effectiveness of that approach, especially when you see Richardson’s running be responsible for three of the team’s six offensive touchdowns.
The Ravens know all about utilizing a dual-threat QB to their advantage. And while the skill positions around him may be crumbling, Lamar Jackson is still a handful. Jackson is coming off a strong showing in Week 2’s win over Cincinnati, passing for 237 yards while adding another 54 rushing on 12 carries.
Jackson could be asked to do more with his legs this weekend, as Baltimore appears to be down another running back. In the wake of losing JK Dobbins, fellow RB Justice Hill is nursing turf toe and is questionable for Week 3. That leaves Gus Edwards and recently promoted Melvin Gordon in the backfield.
Indianapolis has a solid defense, ranking ninth in Defensive DVOA at FTN and 10th in EPA allowed per play, most notably stuffing opposing rushing attacks for a league-low 2.6 yards per attempt. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley has also received good production from the pass rush despite not blitzing much. Indy has eight sacks, 11 hurries, and a pressure rate of 25.6% per dropback.
Their defensive counterparts in Baltimore sit right alongside the Colts’ stop unit in many advanced stats, including ninth in EPA allowed per play and fifth in DVOA. The Ravens have done a good job holding back opposing passers, allowing a mere 4.8 yards per attempt and now face either a first-year QB or a backup passer in Week 3.
On top of the offensive ailments, the Ravens are also running thin on defense with standouts like Jadaveon Clowney, Marcus Williams, and Marlon Humphry all missing practice this week.
This Over/Under total has climbed from an opener of 44 points to 45 as of Thursday, with Covers Consensus showing 55% of picks taking the Over.
Baltimore’s offense runs one of the more plodding paces in the league, ranked 25th in seconds per play so far in 2023 and playing a possession game, with the 10th-most TOP in the league.
The Colts, on the other hand, have been much quicker to snap the ball under Steichen. Indianapolis runs the third fastest tempo and fourth most no-huddle through two games, though that could slow down with Minshew taking snaps.
This Week 3 game will also be Indianapolis’ first game outside and on grass, after playing on the fast track indoors at home and Houston the last two contests. Sunday’s forecast is calling for rain in the afternoon and wind gusts up to 22 mph.
Colts vs Ravens betting trend to know
The Ravens have played Under the first-half total in 12 of their last 21 games. Sunday’s first-half total is set at 22.5 points. Find more NFL betting trends for Colts vs. Ravens.
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Colts vs Ravens game info
|Location:||M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD|
|Date:||Sunday, September 24, 2023|
|Kickoff:||1:00 p.m. ET|
|Opening odds:||Ravens - 8.5, 44|
Colts vs Ravens latest injuries
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