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Free Sports Picks: Can Indianapolis Compete Without Andrew Luck?

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Oskeim Sports previews Sunday’s NFL game between the Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Chargers.  Oskeim recommends taking the points with the Colts as one of his free sports picks for September 8.

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This game, more than any other on today’s schedule, epitomizes how the betting public overreacts to injuries, suspensions, and retirements.

Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck shocked the football landscape with his retirement announcement on August 24 and, as a result, the line in this game jumped from -3 to -7 in favor of the Chargers. Enter backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett.

Brissett has the luxury of having one of the best play-callers in the league as his head coach (Frank Reich), who served as the Eagles’ offensive coordinator during Nick Foles’ improbable Super Bowl run. Reich can also speak from personal experience after stepping in to replace a starting quarterback during his playing career.

“This is a tremendous advantage, tremendous help because Frank understands and can verbalize to him what he’s feeling more than anybody else in the building,” former Colts and Bills general manager Bill Polian said.  “Frank has been there done that under more pressure than Jacoby is facing now. He had to do it in the playoffs. Having Frank there is a huge plus for Jacoby and the Colts.”

The Colts have rejected numerous trade offers since acquiring Brissett from New England in 2017. More compelling is the fact that Indianapolis gave Brissett a two-year, $30 million contract on September 2.

Money talks and it’s clear that the Colts have unwavering faith in Brissett’s ability to compete at a high level in the NFL. More importantly, Brissett is primed to succeed this season behind an offensive line that gave up a league-low 18 sacks last season.

The Colts’ skill positions are loaded with talent (like T.Y. Hilton) for an offense that finished seventh overall last year. Brissett has taken more than 1,200 first-team snaps going back to April. He has also been working with throwing coach Tom House to improve his accuracy.

“That’s more than a season’s worth of plays that he has had with the first team here in practice, counting OTAs and training camp,” Reich said. Most importantly, Brissett took the majority of first-team reps this offseason and won’t be rusty like the two quarterbacks we watched on Thursday night.

Let’s also note that the Chargers’ have the worst home-field advantage in the NFL. Since moving from San Diego to Los Angeles, the Chargers are 5-5 SU and 2-8 ATS at home in games with a posted total of more than 43 points.

Indianapolis’ coaching advantage in this game cannot be understated. Reich was Philip Rivers’ quarterback coach in 2013 and the Chargers’ offensive coordinator in 2014 and 2015.

Indianapolis offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni spent five seasons with the Chargers and was Rivers’ quarterbacks’ coach for the two seasons Reich was the offensive coordinator. Familiarity with the opposing quarterback’s strengths and weaknesses only enhances the value of the overpriced underdog in this game.

The Chargers take the field without one of the game’s best safeties in Derwin James (foot). Reich targeted his tight ends at the 5th-highest rate last year and now has a healthy Jack Doyle.

When Doyle was healthy last season (6 weeks), the Colts used the 6th-most 12 personnel. Without James protecting the middle of the field, look for Reich to exploit the absence by utilizing Doyle, Eric Ebron, and Parris Cambell at a high clip.

Despite Luck’s retirement, the Colts still possess one of the best rosters in the league. Indianapolis’ depth is better than it has ever been and the offense is much more familiar with the playbook entering year two of Reich’s system.

With Los Angeles standing at 1-4 SU and 0-5 ATS at home during September affairs, take the Colts plus the points as one of Oskeim Sports Free Sports Picks for Sunday, September 8.

Oskeim Sports’ Free Sports Picks:

  • Indianapolis Colts (+7) (+125) over Los Angeles Chargers
  • Miami Dolphins (+7) (-110) over Baltimore Ravens
  • New York Giants (+7.5) (-115) over Dallas Cowboys