Betting takeaways from ESPN’s Week 16 NFL Power Rankings: Here come the Colts

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Ugh. COVID-19’s latest wave of destruction has made wagering on the NFL (or any other sport) an even more difficult endeavor than normal.

Closing line value is usually the main objective when making a wager. Is that still the case when so much information — in terms of which players can even play — is unknown mere hours before kickoff?

Regardless, all we can do is take a look at the latest Power Rankings and see what stands out.

The Colts have had plenty of reasons to celebrate lately.

Regardless, all we can do is take a look at the latest Power Rankings and see what stands out.


Arizona Cardinals (7) and Indianapolis Colts (10)

These two teams are tied with Detroit (more on that later) at 9-5 ATS this season. Only Green Bay and Dallas can claim better such records in the NFL. It seems, though, that the two teams are headed in opposite directions in December. Spearheaded by the dominant rushing attack of Jonathan Taylor, the Colts are surging at the right time and appear to be a team few would want to meet in the postseason. Meanwhile the Cardinals — considered to be the best team in the league for much of the year — have lost back-to-back games to an undermanned Rams team and the Detroit Lions. As fate would have it, the Colts visit Glendale in Week 16 for a Christmas Day tilt with the Cardinals installed as a 1.5-point favorite. Santa likes an underdog in this one.

Tennessee Titans (8)

Despite still (barely) hanging on atop the AFC South, there is no way the Titans deserve to be considered a top-10 team in the Power Rankings. They have a very legitimate excuse: Their wildly top-heavy team has been decimated by injuries to the most important players. If the Titans had Derrick Henry and A.J. Brown, then this might be a valid ranking. Without them? Tennessee might not even be a top-15 team in the NFL. The Titans’ offense is so anemic. Ryan Tannehill all of a sudden more closely resembles the quarterback who struggled to find traction for much of his career without King Henry. That’s not a coincidence. Catching 3.5 points on Thursday night against the 49ers might seem like a great value on the Titans, but it’s San Francisco or pass for me in that matchup.

Detroit Lions (29)

I’m sorry, but the Lions are wildly disrespected by these Power Rankings. Don’t worry about the mere two wins they have on their ledger. That matters very little. What matters more is which teams most consistently outperform expectation. And only two teams in the league can say they’re better than the Lions in that regard. The Lions are 9-5 ATS this season (tied with Arizona and Indianapolis, two playoff teams) for the third-best mark in the league. We knew the Lions were not going to be good this season, but in doing so, they’ve also shown that they’re one of the toughest teams in the league to play for 60 minutes. Kudos to Dan Campbell, Jared Goff and the job done by this team all season long. Catching 4 points next week in Atlanta sure does look tasty to me.

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