Indianapolis @ Jacksonville
Indianapolis +185 over Jacksonville

Posted at 10:00 AM EST. Odds subject to change.

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Indianapolis +185 over Jacksonville

1:00 PM EST. The market is high on the Jacksonville Jaguars entering the 2023 season and for good reason. Trevor Lawrence ascended in dramatic fashion last year, earning his very first Pro-Bowl honors along the way, confirming that the marriage between Lawrence and new coach Doug Pederson was a perfect fit. The two led Jacksonville's offense to top-10 marks in yards per play, points per game, yards per game, pass yards per game, and yards per rush; just one year after the Jags were the laughing stock of the league under Urban Meyer. The Jags made no one wonder about their priorities this offseason, resigning the rejuvenated Evan Engram, drafting power-back Tank Bigsby to complement Travis Etienne's flashy style, and reinstating Calvin Ridley, who's reportedly ready to explode in 2023. They also added more depth to their offensive line. This is an offense ready to fire on all cylinders again and to no one's surprise, Jacksonville is a heavy favorite to win the AFC South.

All these things can be true, but it still doesn't mean that the Colts should be 5-point dogs at home in their first game of the season. The biggest reason we’re buying the Colts at this price? New coach Shane Steichen. Colts' owner Jim Irsay has made plenty of enemies in the media and among the NFL coaching community, but few can contest the decision to hire Steichen fresh off the Eagles' amazing Super Bowl run last season. One could argue he was the single biggest reason for their success.

In his first stint as an offensive coordinator, Steichen led Justin Herbert to offensive rookie of the year honors, where Herbert broke records as a rookie QB (31 TDs, 396 completions). According to, LAC finished in the top 10 in yards per game (382.1 – ninth), passing yards per game (270.6 – sixth), first downs per game (23.3 – sixth), third down percentage (44.2 percent – ninth) and fewest turnovers (16 – tied-fourth) in the same campaign. Steichen then went to Philadelphia for the 2021 season, scoring 28 ppg in their last 5 contests and helping a new-look Eagles' offense earn a Wildcard round playoff berth. What Steichen and the Eagles did in 2022 was downright legendary, earning top five statistical marks in nearly every offensive category that matters. Perhaps most impressively, they were 2nd overall in points per game (29.1), explosive plays (0.435 points/play), and 1st in TDs per game. Steichen, Hurts, and the Philadelphia offense weren't the reasons why the Eagles lost Super Bowl LVII, and now Steichen takes his innovative schemes and QB-grooming ability to Indianapolis.

It's hard not to like Steichen and the Colts' offensive potential even more with Anthony Richardson at QB. The Colts 2023 first round draft pick is a massive 6'4", 245 pounds, and he plays like a young Cam Newton with more poise. Even in a Week 3 preseason spot that would have shaken up many rookie QBs (at Philadelphia against some of their starters), Richardson showed command and avoided making mistakes. Whether he plays perfectly or not, it's likely that Steichen will bring play-designs and schemes that Jacksonville hasn't seen before. Whispers about unique formations like the PRO (power-run-option), for example, have been circulated by local reporters leading up to Week 1. Richardson will lead Indianapolis behind a very formidable offensive line and plenty of talent, even without star-running-back Jonathon Taylor. Michael Pittman Jr. and Alec Pierce are cemented pieces of their receiving corps, and new slot receiver Josh Downs has been apparently turning heads in practice. We’d be lying if we said we had any idea how good their tight end room is, but Richardson is the kind of athlete that can make everyone better.

Defensively, give an edge to the Colts. The Jaguars are full of young, hyper-athletic talent on defense but they were more of an Achilles heel than a security blanket last year. Their pass-defense earned bottom-third rankings in nearly every category and they permitted a startling 352 yards per game a season ago. They also struggled to get off the field (JAX allowed opponent's to convert on 43.78% of 3rd downs); that fits the archetype of a defense that's young and talented but without the leadership and experience it needs. The Colts can't relate, still anchored by all-pro veterans like DeForest Buckner and Shaquille Leonard. The Colts' secondary is young and exposable, which is not a small concern going up against Trevor Lawrence but we trust the Indy-offense can keep pace.

With less to play for and certainly less to be excited about, the Colts beat the Jaguars at home last year in Week 6. That game looked very similar to what we suspect we'll see Sunday in this matchup - lots of offense, lots of lead-changes, and a hard-fought battle between two division rivals. At home and with the motivation of a clean slate entering Week 1, there's inherent value in a home underdog. With a potentially electric, dynamic QB and a proven offensive-minded coach who knows how to fool enemy defenses, the Colts are in a great position to win outright or come in under the number.


Our Pick

Indianapolis +185 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 3.70)