Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 11:45 PM
Andrew Luck is certainly having a great rookie season for the Indianapolis Colts. The media is raving about his passing yardage totals, and sports bettors know he’s 5-3 against the spread for a win percentage of 63%. A great story and a great investment!
The question for sports bettors now is whether or not they hype and Vegas line adjustments have gone too far. If you just focus on passing yardage, then Luck is in elite company indeed.
IN THE AIR
Tom Brady, 2408 passing yards
Peyton Manning, 2404 passing yards
Andrew Luck, 2404 passing yards
A dozen media sources noticed that Manning and Luck had exactly the same yardage, and made a big deal about it. Hardly anyone noticed that Tom Brady…also forever linked to Manning, was just a few yards ahead of them. This deep into the season, it’s amazing that those three quarterbacks are within four yards of each other.
That being said…
Peyton Manning 108.6
Tom Brady 100.6
Andrew Luck 79.0
Whoa…what the heck happened there? Isn’t Luck already up in the stratosphere with all of those passing yards? Unfortunately, he’s not anywhere near the other guys in terms of true impact on the game just yet. He doesn’t turn his yardage into points as often, and he still makes more mistakes in the pocket.
Peyton Manning 20/6
Tom Brady 16/3
Andrew Luck 10/8
In fact, Luck is barely better than break even in this simple but informative quarterback stat, even though the Colts have played one of the easiest schedules in the league this year.
INTERCEPTIONS AND SACKS
Andrew Luck 27
Tom Brady 17
Peyton Manning 16
Luck has been sacked a lot more than the other guys, and doesn’t have an impressive TD/INT ratio. So…give him his props for the high passing volume. Just remember that, as handicappers, you’re trying to figure out what’s going to happen on the scoreboard…not what’s going to happen in “yards gained before making a mistake.” Because he’s a rookie, Luck’s current numbers do project to a long and outstanding career. He’s not there yet!
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS at JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (8:20 p.m. on NFL NETWORK)
Las Vegas Spread: Indianapolis by 3, total of 42.5
The markets are giving the Colts a lot of respect here, is this represents a line of Indy -6 on a neutral field, and Indy -9 at home. You don’t see that often with rookie quarterbacks. And, you didn’t see it the first time these two teams met back in Week Three. Indy was -3 back then too! So, we have an adjustment of SIX points from that first meeting. And, that’s despite the fact that Indianapolis actually LOST that game! Jacksonville’s only win of the season came on the road at Indy.
WON-LOST RECORDS (schedule strength according to USA Today)
Indianapolis: 5-3 (27th ranked schedule)
Jacksonville: 1-7 (11th ranked schedule)
The Colts are in the playoff picture because SOMEBODY has to make a run for the sixth and final spot after the five clear favorites (New England, Houston, Denver, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore). A team with a soft schedule that catches some breaks in close games is going to sneak in. Indianapolis is a good nominee for that right now because Luck is healthy and producing against soft challenges.
Goodness…can you make the playoffs with a turnover differential that large? Indianapolis will make a go of it, and has a chance to improve obviously in the second half of the season. Just remember that the Colts are NOT playing quality football for the most part to this point in the season. They’re actually playing sloppy football against an easy schedule…but finding ways to win anyway.
Indianapolis: 390.9 yards-per-game on 5.5 yards-per-play
Jacksonville: 254.4 yards-per-game on 4.3 yards-per-play
We haven’t talked much about Jacksonville yet. This is a good place to step in and remind everyone that a HORRIBLE offense is the reason the team is 1-7 this season. Blaine Gabbert was a borderline choice as an NFL quarterback to begin with (at least in educated places outside of Jacksonville). He’s not developing for a team that doesn’t seem to have any idea what it’s doing. The Jags will be spotting a lot of yardage to the Colts Thursday Night, and will probably need some turnover or special teams help to spring the small market upset.
Indianapolis: 352.2 yards-per-game on 5.8 yards-per-play
Jacksonville: 392.9 yards-per-game on 5.6 yards-per-play
Jacksonville’s defense isn’t quite as bad as its offense…but those are still disappointing numbers. They do have a slight yards-per-play edge, but allow more total yardage because they’re on the field so much. Gabbert has no idea how to move the chains. Luck seemed to know how to do that in his crib.
LAST WEEK’S BOXES
INDIANAPOLIS 23, MIAMI 20
Total Yardage: Miami 365, Indianapolis 516
Rushing Yards: Miami 84, Indianapolis 97
Passing Stats: Miami 22-38-0-281, Indianapolis 30-48-0-419
Turnovers: Miami 0, Indianapolis 0
Third Downs: Miami 36%, Indianapolis 68%
Vegas Line: Miami by 1.5, total of 43
This is a great example of how Luck compiles monster yardage in ways that don’t pay off on the scoreboard. Amazingly, he threw for over 400 yards for a team that gained over 500 yards, yet the team had to sweat a close finish. Note that Luck was moving the chains, and didn’t turn the ball over! Still, just 23 points. Tom Brady would turn numbers like that into 45 or 52. Peyton Manning would run the clock more in a way that took away passing volume but cinched a win. Luck has a lot to learn. It’s scary to think how good he’s going to be once he learns it.
DETROIT 31, JACKSONVILLE 14
Total Yardage: Detroit 434, Jacksonville 279
Rushing Yards: Detroit 149, Jacksonville 64
Passing Stats: Detroit 22-33-0-285, Jacksonville 27-38-2-215
Turnovers: Detroit 0, Jacksonville 2
Third Downs: Detroit 67%, Jacksonville 55%
Vegas Line: Detroit by 5.5, total of 44
Jacksonville trailed 21-0 at the half, and didn’t really do much offensively until the game was already out of reach. Gabbert can only move the chains like that against passive prevent defenses. He does actually face one of the most passive defenses in recent NFL history this week though. Indianapolis has only forced three turnovers all year!
There’s no doubt that Indianapolis is currently the better team. And, a line like -3 is pretty cheap when you’re just asking the better team to win. The problem with that line of thinking is that Indianapolis is mistake-prone on offense, and they don’t force mistakes on defense. That allows inferior teams to hang around. Heck, it allowed the inferior team to win the first meeting. You can assume Luck is going to have another big passing game unless weather is an issue or he suffers a nagging injury early in the evening. Turning those yards into a pointspread cover is another question now that the line has adjusted so much.
JIM HURLEY has been working closely with his computer simulation geeks to visualize how this game is going to play out. And, he’s also been working with his on-site sources to check on the Jaguars mindset. Any time a team is 1-7 in the first half of the season, you have to worry about motivation in the second half…and you also have to wonder if the team is going to limp home so they can guarantee a great draft pick. Information about mindset is HUGE in a game like this.
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