Detroit Lions (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Indianapolis Colts (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
NFL Week 1
Date/Time: Sunday, September 11, 2016, 4:25 pm EST
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Ind.
TV: Fox, DirecTV 716
by Badger, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: DET +4/IND -4
Over/Under Total: 51.5
Two teams looking to turn around the misfortune of last seasonís struggles will get together in week one National Football League action Sunday afternoon, when the Detroit Lions travel to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis to kickoff their 2016 regular season against the Indianapolis Colts on Fox.
The Colts learned a hard lesson last year when they experienced what life without their franchise quarterback Andrew Luck was like, suffering through a mediocre 8-8 campaign after years of ruling the AFC South. Luck is healthy again, and a re-worked offensive line has been put in front of him to try help and keep him upright and get the Colts back to the pinnacle of the division and back into the AFC playoffs.
The 2015 season is also one the Lions would like to forget, as their 7-9 record was marred by inconsistency and midseason changes all along the coaching staff. To make matters more depressing, Detroit lost their best player and most dangerous weapon this winter when Calvin Johnson decided to retire rather than take the pounding of another long season. Head coach Jim Caldwell will have to right the ship quickly in order to save his job, and going on the road to Indy in week one will be a tall task as the Lions look to take advantage of an NFC North division that has been flipped upside down due to injuries in the preseason.
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With Luck back behind center the Colts opened this game as strong 3.5-point favorites at most sportsbooks, but with most of the early action heavy on Indianapolis, oddsmakers have been forced to adjust the betting line upwards to where the line now sits with the Colts as high as 4- or 4.5-point favorites at some books. The over/under total has also moved since it opened, starting at 49 and moving up to as high as 51.5 at a few of the larger sportsbooks offshore and on the Internet.
Nobody is exactly sure how the Lions offense will pan out without Johnson this season. Itís no secret that anytime Matthew Stafford needed to move the chains, he looked to and often threw a jump ball to Johnson despite the double and triple coverage. But now without Robotron, Stafford will face even more pressure to carry the Lions offense on his shoulders. The good news is Stafford and the Lions offense did seem to ďclickĒ towards the late stages of last season when offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter started calling the plays.
But as is often the case when playing the Colts, the Lions will have to find a way to outscore Luck on the scoreboard. The Colts protected Luck throughout most of the preseason by not playing him much, so the Lions can only hope that thereís still a little rust on Luckís game after getting shut down at the end of 2015. The Lions defense struggled quite a bit in the preseason, which would explain why the total has shot up almost three whole points to 51.5 at some books as fans and sharp bettors alike feel this game could be a shootout.
With these two teams only seeing each other once every four years, history isnít much of a help when trying to handicap the opener. Although, the Colts have won four straight head-to-head matchups with the Lions dating back to the 2000, including a 35-33, shootout victory in their last meeting in 2012 at Ford Field in Detroit.
However, a quick look at the recent betting trends for this game shows that the Colts are somewhat notorious slow starters, going 1-7 ATS in their last eight regular season openers. The best wager for this game just might be against the steam on the total, considering the under is actually 8-3 in the Colts last 11 week one openers and is also 7-3 in the Colts last 10 games at home inside Lucas Oil Stadium.
Badger's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Iím a huge fan of Luck and Iím on record predicting the Colts to have a great season and win the AFC South and represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. But that all said, any value on betting on the Colts in this game has sailed long ago as the number has already gone up to minus 4 or 4.5 currently on the board. So while it might get a little hairy cheering for two teams with suspect defenses, the best value for this game is on the under. So Iím going to bet the under of 51.5 for this game.
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