NFL Thursday Night Football predictions: Indianapolis Colts vs Denver Broncos picks and best bets from expert analyst Clevta – Primetime games stay low scoring

Clevta’s Colts vs Broncos best bet: Under 43.5 (-110)

This matchup looked a lot better coming into the season than it does today. Both teams thought they improved the QB position greatly in the offseason, but especially in one case, it hasn’t happened. Matt Ryan has been terrible so far this season. He ranks 26th in EPA per dropback and is 32nd out of 35 QBs in PFF grade against pressure. He looks lost in this offense, and Jonathan Taylor can’t get going against a stacked box. Now Taylor is dealing with a bad ankle, and it doesn’t look like he will play. WR Michael Pittman Jr. is a deep threat but expect emerging star CB Pat Surtain Jr. to shadow him one-on-one. Ryan has attempted the 2nd lowest number of deep passes this year in the NFL.

Otherwise, there is not much explosion in this offense, and I don’t think this offense is something that can be fixed on short notice. Especially without their biggest playmaker in Taylor and against a defense that has allowed only 1 total TD in two games at home this season.

The Colts have been decent moving it between the 20s, but they have bogged down a lot before getting to the red zone. They rank 8th in my drive success metric, but because they haven’t produced many explosive plays, they haven’t been able to capitalize much and have only reached the red zone or scored a TD outside of the red zone on 30% of their drives that have started on their side of the field. They are 31st in EPA on offense for the season, and it’s hard to imagine that this is the environment and a short week to turn it around.

The Broncos have produced some big plays on offense, but they still aren’t blocking that well on offense and now are down one of their best players in RB Javonte Williams. The Broncos are 25th in percent of drives that have either ended in a TD or reached the red zone. They have produced the 2nd most 3 and outs in the NFL per drive and are also 28th in neutral game pace. They play slow, are missing one of their best playmakers, and have not been consistent enough from a drive-to-drive perspective.

The Colts’ defense has played very well, even without Shaq Leonard, and should be in a position to keep the Broncos’ offense in check for much of this game. They’ve allowed the 5th lowest rate of drives to end in a TD or red zone appearance this season. They are also 4th best at producing 3 and outs.

The market has clearly got both of these offenses wrong and, in fact, they rank 31st and 32nd in points below their posted team totals. They have gone under their team totals in seven of eight combined games, by an average of 8 points per game. Thursday night games have gone under the total, when it’s closed at 44 or less, in 41 of 85 games (48%), since 2010. This total isn’t adjusted enough in my opinion.

Be sure to check out our full Indianapolis Colts vs Denver Broncos predictions

Clevta’s Colts vs Broncos best player prop: Mo Alie-Cox over 18.5 receiving yards (-110)

In a game where it will be loud and Matt Ryan will need to dump off the ball instead of holding onto it for a long time and potentially taking sacks, a TE will be a useful option. Cox has seen an increase in his snap percentage each week this season, culminating in a 70% snap rate last week. Last week, he ran the 3rd most routes of any offensive player and was tied with the most targets. He led the team in receptions and yards last week as well. He’s also 3rd on the team in the Colts air yard share in the last two games. This is a really low bar to hit, and in a game where the Colts may abandon the run game early, Cox should see a decent number of high-valued targets.

Lock in our Colts vs Broncos Same Game Parlay (+575 odds!)

Clevta has been a successful NFL handicapper for more than a decade. His approach is a combination of bottoms-up fundamental team and matchup analytics along with a deep knowledge of the betting market to help drive success.

He has been a regular contestant in the Westgate NFL Supercontest and Circa Millions, in which he has posted an aggregate 56% winning percentage, including 4 separate seasons with a win percentage of at least 60%. Now he brings his expert NFL handicapping skills to Pickswise.

You can find more of Clevta’s weekly NFL game analysis at

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