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Broncos vs. Colts prediction: Can Indy pull off upset without injured Taylor?

Denver is a short home favorite on Thursday against Indianapolis, which will be without star rusher Jonathan Taylor in Week 5.

Matt Ryan of the Indianapolis Colts warms up before the game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on September 11, 2022 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Matt Ryan of the Indianapolis Colts warms up before the game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on September 11, 2022 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)Read moreCarmen Mandato / Getty Images

If you were hoping to see two of the AFC’s most talented teams face off at full strength, you’ll be sorely mistaken when the short-handed Broncos and Colts face off after suspect starts to the season.

Oddsmakers favor Denver as the slight home favorite at BetMGM, and this line has barely moved despite the official news that Indianapolis star Jonathan Taylor (ankle) won’t play in this one. It’s just one of the myriad factors working against the road underdog in this one.

Here’s how we’re betting Thursday’s contest, which kicks off at 8:15 p.m. ET on Amazon Prime Video.

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Broncos vs. Colts Prediction

  1. Broncos -3 (-120 BetMGM)

Broncos vs. Colts Prediction: The Analysis

Neither of these teams deserve much praise for the way they’ve started the season after entering the year among the shortest title favorites in the AFC. So it makes sense that oddsmakers have simply thrown their hands in the air and priced the Broncos as de facto 3-point home favorites.

Is that really a fair assessment of this matchup, though? Yes, Denver has looked totally disjointed through its first four games, but the Broncos still boast a nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback in Russell Wilson and one of the better defenses in the league – one that had allowed a combined 36 points in three games before the Raiders ran down its throat in Week 4.

That likely would have been the strategy for the Colts, too, if not for the untimely injury to last year’s rushing champion. Taylor has missed just one game in his entire career but won’t play Thursday, leaving Indianapolis to put the ball into Matt Ryan’s hands. That hasn’t been a good thing so far. He ranks fourth in passing yards (1,125) but 23rd in QBR (41.3) and has thrown as many touchdowns (5) as interceptions (5).

» READ MORE: Will Eagles finish regular season undefeated? One sportsbook weighs in on possibility

Even before Taylor’s injury, the Colts ranked dead last in DVOA and points per game (14.3) and had won just one game through the first four weeks. Now they’ll attempt to right the ship on short rest without their best offensive player in Taylor and their best defender in Shaquille Leonard (concussion), who has played all of 16 snaps this season. Defensive lineman Tyquan Lewis (concussion) has also been ruled out, while key defenders Julian Blackmon (ankle) and DeForest Buckner (hip) are iffy to suit up.

Denver won’t be at full strength, either, after placing top rusher Javonte Williams (knee) and linebacker Randy Gregory (knee) on injured reserve following last week’s loss in Las Vegas. Those two are among 15 players who have either been ruled out or are questionable to play on short rest. Still, the Broncos have a ready-made replacement in their backfield in former Pro Bowl rusher Melvin Gordon, who will certainly test this short-handed Indianapolis front.

On paper, Denver is clearly fielding the better squad on Thursday, injuries and all. It’s played like the better team, too, if only by a hair. It’s hard to have confidence in either side given what we’ve seen to this point, but the Broncos should be dealing as bigger favorites here and are worth a cautious play as home chalk.

Broncos vs. Colts Odds (via BetMGM)

  1. Broncos -3 (-120), moneyline -185

  2. Colts +3 (+100), moneyline +150

  3. O/U 42.5 (-110)

» READ MORE: Eagles, Jaguars among best division winner bets through first four weeks

The Inquirer is not an online gambling operator, or a gambling site. We provide this information about sports betting for entertainment purposes only.