Green Bay Packers vs Indianapolis Colts Prediction
The Green Bay Packers (7-2) travel to Lucas Oil Stadium to take on the Indianapolis Colts (6-3) in what should be a great game. The Colts are -2.5 favorites at home (-135 ML), and the over/under is currently at 51 total points.
This game pits together two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers, and puts one of the most dynamic offenses in Green Bay against the elite defensive unit of Indianapolis.
Let’s take a look at what to expect in this fantastic matchup on the late-afternoon slate, including our full prediction and best bets.
Green Bay Packers Preview
The Packers’ record this season might be one of the more deceiving records in the NFL. Rodgers has once again been dynamic, with 26 TDs, 3 interceptions, over 2500 yards and a league-leading 116.4 QB rating. And Davante Adams continues to prove his worth as a top-three receiver in the pros, with an NFL-leading nine touchdown catches and 105.9 yards per game average (also league-leading). But Green Bay has one big win to its name this season (over a Michael Thomas-less Saints team 37-30 in Week 3).
In fact, New Orleans is the only team with a winning record that the Packers have defeated. The rest of their wins have come against teams that all currently have four or fewer wins, rank in the bottom 10 in points allowed, and have a combined record of 18-37.
Meanwhile, Rodgers and the Pack got spanked by a stout Buccaneers defense in mid-October, and they got served the upset special in a Nov. 1 divisional loss to the Vikings. That’s not a great body of work for a 7-2 team, so tread lightly before betting the farm on the Cheeseheads.
Against the prolific defense of the Colts, Rodgers will likely be handing off and dumping down to stud running back Aaron Jones, who returned from a calf injury two weeks ago but has looked less dominant than usual. Jones led the NFL in rushing touchdowns (16) and scrimmage touchdowns (19) last season, and serves as one of the most gifted dual-threat backs in football when healthy. He’s backed up capably by Jamal Williams, who also shines in both the passing and running games.
Rodgers will also be happy to have Allen Lazard back after recovering from core muscle surgery. While tight end Robert Tonyan had moments earlier in the season, and wide-out Marquez Valdes-Scantling came out of nowhere to lead the world in receiving last week, the receiving unit has largely struggled with consistency behind Adams. Lazard will provide some much-needed field-stretching against the elite Indy secondary.
Green Bay’s defense has been less than stellar. Unlike the Colts, the Packers have been awful at producing turnovers, with only seven takeaways on the season (30th in the NFL). They have been in the middle-of-the-pack (so to speak) in points, passing yards, and rushing yards allowed, and they rank 21st in rushing TDs allowed. If it can’t start making plays and forcing mistakes, this defense could turn Green Bay from a contender to a pretender yet again, squandering another awesome offensive season from Rodgers.
Indianapolis Colts Preview
The Colts bolstered its already-strong defense over the offseason, signed veteran Philip Rivers to lead its offense, and drafted Jonathan Taylor to be the bell-cow of the backfield. Two of those three things have worked in Indy’s favor so far.
The best part of this team, by far, is its defense. It has stifled even the upper-echelon offenses, and completely stymied inferior opponents. It blends a very talented pass-rush with a superb linebacking corps and a smothering secondary, often resembling the dominance of the 2019 New England Patriots defensive front.
The Colts lead the NFL in total yards allowed (2,614, or 290.4 per game). They lead the league in interceptions with 11, and allow the second-fewest passing yards and third-fewest rushing yards. They rank fourth in points allowed (177), third in passing touchdowns allowed (11), and seventh in rushing TDs allowed (seven).
This D has the individual names defensive gurus salivate over. DeForest Buckner, Justin Houston, Grover Stewart, and Denico Autry dominate the defensive line. All-Pro Darius Leonard leads a strong, fast, and ball-focused linebacker unit that includes emerging star Bobby Okereke. And Xavier Rhodes, Khari Willis and Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate Julian Blackmon highlight what many consider the best secondary in football. But this is one cohesive unit, with a core identity and a selfless “do your job” approach (sorry, Pats fans).
Offensively, 2020 has been somewhat of a roller coaster for Indy. Frank Reich originally seemed to be going with a conservative, ground-and-pound approach with Rivers operating as more of a game manager. But then starting back Marlon Mack went down with a season-ending Achilles injury. And most recently, Jonathan Taylor has struggled with vision and ball control issues.
Cue the ever-resilient Rivers, who sidearms his way to victories like nobody the game has ever seen. The former Charger came up big last week in a huge divisional victory over Tennessee, completing 29-of-39 passes for 308 yards and a score. He threw three touchdown passes in each of Indy’s previous two wins, as well, and has a combined QB rating of 111.46 in those three victories. His best skill this year has been taking care of the football, not trying to do too much, and avoiding big sacks.
Rivers, who always seems to enjoy a good pass-catching back, has developed great chemistry with third-year back Nyheim Hines. The 24-year old NC State product rushed 12 times for 70 yards and a touchdown last week, and caught 5-of-6 passes for 45 yards and another score. Taylor and fellow back Jonathan Wilkins could be relegated to change-of-pace work if Hines continues to succeed alongside Rivers.
Meanwhile, Indy’s receiving unit has produced a mixed bag of results. T.Y. Hilton, usually the Colts’ leading receiver, has struggled mightily, catching just 59.1 percent of his 44 targets and seemingly allergic to the end zone. Tight ends Mo Alie-Cox and Jack Doyle have each scored two touchdowns, as has veteran receiver Zach Pascal, who leads the team with 330 receiving yards. The most intriguing member of this corps, though, is rookie Michael Pittman Jr., who was relatively quiet all season until the Tennessee game, where he broke out for 101 yards while catching 7-of-8 targets. Look for Hines and Pittman to once again be the difference-makers against a soft Green Bay defense this weekend.
Full Game Prediction
Sixty percent of sharp money is on the Packers so far this weekend, and if Vegas gives them any more points, I might be as well. But the Colts have played far too well defensively to avoid them, at least on the moneyline. The one contender with a dynamic defense Green Bay has faced all season was the Bucs, and they laid the smack-down on Rodgers and Co. in Tampa Bay 38-10. This road contest should be much closer, but we like Indy to prevail and screw all its doubters who bet on the bigger-named QB with the better record. Give us the Colts 27-24 in a nail-biter.