Philadelphia Eagles Show They’re NFL’s Best Team in Broncos Rout

If you bet on the Philadelphia Eagles in our NFL futures, then you’re looking pretty good right now. The Eagles improved to 8-1 after dismantling the Denver Broncos (3-5) by a score of 51-23.

What’s impressive is that the Eagles looked unstoppable against the league’s top-ranked defense. Second-year quarterback Carson Wentz tossed four touchdown passes as the Eagles scored on possession after possession. Philly fans chanted “We Want Dallas” in the closing minutes, with the Cowboys (5-3) being their closest competition in the NFC East.

There are plenty of reasons why the Eagles have the NFL’s best record heading into their bye week. But none appear more obvious than the improvement of Wentz.

“I saw it as soon as I came here,” Eagles receiver Torrey Smith said about his quarterback. “He’s taking more control of everything. He’s playing lights out.”

Denver felt like they’d hit rock-bottom after the game based on how Philadelphia scored so easily. However, it could be more a case that the Eagles offense is so good that nobody can stop them.

eagles-offense-2017Philly had four different players carry the ball (not including quarterbacks) effectively on Sunday. And coach Doug Pederson did a good job of using roll outs and sprint outs to keep Wentz away from Denver’s front seven.

One touchdown included a 15-yard screen pass to Corey Clement, who ran through the center of Denver’s defense thanks to great timing and blocking. Clement scored another TD on a two-yard option pitch – a rare play in the NFL. Then there was new addition Jay Ajayi rushing for 77 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown.

“We do feel we can keep spreading the ball around,” Wentz said after the game. “It makes us really tough to defend.”

The 24-year-old said that there were some plays he’d like to have back in the first half. However, it’s difficult to know what these plays would’ve been, given the Eagles’ 31-9 halftime lead.

Eagles Defense Also Dominated

On the defensive side, Philadelphia had an obvious game plan to take away the Broncos’ run and forced Brock Osweiler to beat them. The team recently turned to Osweiler after starter Trevor Siemian threw three interceptions against Kansas City last week.

Now the team is in a tough spot with regard to whether they play Osweiler or Siemian moving forward. The third option is Paxton Lynch, however, the second-year player still isn’t ready to go after an off-season shoulder injury. Even if Lynch can play, he doesn’t have much experience and hasn’t provided any indication that he can lead this offense better than Siemian or Osweiler.

Coach Vance Joseph didn’t immediately commit to whom he’ll start next week against the New England Patriots.

“We’ll see,” said Joseph. “I have to go back and watch the tape and see how the game was played from that position before I make any decisions.”

Given Denver’s quarterback woes, it’s no surprise that the Eagles easily stopped them. Most of the Broncos’ production came in garbage time with the outcome already determined long before.

Philadelphia’s Offense is Crushing the NFL

While many picked the Eagles to win this home game, few thought their offense would be as dominate as it was. They shredded the Broncos for 419 total yards, including 197 yards on the ground.

carson-wentz-eaglesThe league doesn’t have an overwhelming Super Bowl favorite now. But if Philly keeps up this offensive production, then they’ll easily be favored to bring home the Lombardi Trophy. They’re averaging 31.4 points per game and haven’t scored less than 26 in the past seven games.

Philadelphia will be on bye in Week 10. They’ll then have a Sunday night contest against the Dallas Cowboys in what could be a defining game in the NFC East. If they win, they’ll take a commanding lead in the division and improve to 9-1. If they lose, they’ll fall to 8-2 and let Dallas back in the race.

Overall, it’s definitely a game that Philly will be preparing for and hoping to win. A victory moves them one step closer to the all-important playoff bye.

Philadelphia Eagles Betting Futures

We still have NFL futures open at GTBets. Here’s a look at where everybody is right now in the NFC East (NY Giants not listed):

Philadelphia (8-1) -2500
Dallas Cowboys (5-3) +1000
Washington Redskins (4-4) +2500

Where do the Denver Broncos Go from Here?

Some analysts wondered if the Denver Broncos were the best team in the league earlier in the season. The team was 3-1 heading into their bye week and looking good on both offense and defense. However, this seems like forever ago when looking at the current situation.

Denver has lost four straight games and have been outscored 124-52 in the process. Joseph isn’t too happy with the matter either and spoke to his team about it following Sunday’s contest.

“I told the team after the football game that every man has to do a self check,” Joseph explained. “Only each man would know what his heart said to him in the fourth quarter there, so that’s where I’ll leave that.

“We knew that their offense would go through the tight ends, so that part did not surprise me. It surprised me that we couldn’t stop the run game, and that was a bigger issue to me. They had a great plan in the run and pass game alike, and they exposed us.”

Despite the poor showing against Philadelphia, the defense still looks like a strong suit. It’s the offense, though, that needs to move the ball and give this team a chance to score.

Joseph announced that Osweiler will start against the Patriots despite the blowout loss this weekend. And he should have an easier time against New England’s subpar secondary. But then again, points haven’t come easy over the last few weeks for the Broncos.

Denver Broncos Betting Futures.

Denver currently has the second-worst odds of winning the AFC West. Here’s a full look at our GTBets odds:

Kansas City Chiefs (6-3) -700
Oakland Raiders (4-5) +950
Denver Broncos (3-5) +1200
LA Chargers (3-5) +1800

Eagles Odds: Impact of Adding Jay Ajayi

jay-ajayi-dolphinsThe Philadelphia Eagles made one of the biggest trades of the season by acquiring Pro Bowl running back Jay Ajayi from the Miami Dolphins. Now the big question is what Ajayi will bring to the NFC East leaders.

The cost was relatively cheap for Ajayi because Philadelphia gave up a fourth-round pick. The 24-year-old rushed for 1,272 yards (fourth in NFL) on 4.9 yards per carry last season. He also has a cost-effective contract that runs through 2018.

This looks like a good trade on paper, and Ajayi’s high profile adds excitement from a fan standpoint. But the Eagles bear some risk because Ajayi had some locker room problems in Miami, hence the fact that the Dolphins gave him up for a mid-round draft pick.

That said, let’s discuss the concerns behind this trade for the Eagles and if this will ultimately be a good fit.

Ajayi Has Never been Consistent

jay-ajayi-eaglesLast season, Ajayi became one of just four running backs to rush for 200 yards in back-to-back games. And he had three different contests with over 200 rushing yards.

However, this also means that he only gained 600+ yards combined in the other 13 regular season games. He never had more than 79 yards in a single contest outside of his 200-yard games.

Consistency hasn’t been Ajayi’s strong point so far in his early NFL career. Case in point, he’s only averaging 3.4 yards per carry this season and has rushed for more than 100 yards twice. He’s also yet to find the end zone in seven games.

Of course, Miami’s offense hasn’t exactly been booming either. They’re ranked dead-last in the NFL in both scoring and total yards. Neither Jay Cutler nor Matt Moore have been particularly effective in their starts at quarterback. And the other running backs, Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams, haven’t done much on their 22 combined carries.

Nevertheless, this doesn’t completely absolve Ajayi from his lack of production. Head coach Adam Gase has criticized the former running back for trying to “hit home runs,” rather than taking the guaranteed shorter charts and yardage.

Knee Problem Keeps Cropping Up

ajayi-eaglesPrior to his NFL career, Jay Ajayi dealt with a knee condition so bad that some wondered if he’d even play in the pros. This caused him to drop to Miami in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Reports on Ajayi after pre-draft surgery said that his right knee was “bone on bone.”

Obviously he’s been able to dispel the doubters with his performance last season. But the Eagles have to be concerned long-term when thinking about Ajayi’s knee issue. It’s very possible that his knee could be bothering him now since he’s been off and on Miami’s injury report.

Ajayi is Bad in the Passing Game

Philadelphia was relying on Darren Sproles to help them in the passing game. However, Sproles’ injury has left them without a good receiving back.

The combination of LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood, Kenjon Barner, and Corey Clement have combined for just 155 yards on 19 catches.

Unfortunately, Ajayi won’t help remedy these problems from either a receiving or blocking perspective. In fact, Gase bashed Ajayi’s blocking just days prior to trading him.

The only solace here is that quarterback Carson Wentz doesn’t check down much to his running backs anyways. However, Wentz, like any QB, needs his running back to pick up blitzers. And if Ajayi can’t do this, than how will he be any different than Blount?

Does Ajayi Really Add Anything to Philly’s Backfield?

Ajayi is one of the league’s best downhill runners when he’s healthy. But does Philadelphia really need this when they already have Blount?

The latter has put in a solid season so far, rushing for 467 yards and two touchdowns with 4.7 yards per carry. It’s arguable that Ajayi could do even better when healthy and playing behind the Eagles line – rather than Miami’s. Going further, he’s also younger and faster than Blount.

But then again, he’s not that much of an upgrade as a starter. And this begs the question of whether they really needed another running back who’s good at running between the tackles, but not catching passes. A better option could’ve been to trade for a receiving running back who better complements Blount.

Maybe Ajayi will surprise me and be outstanding in Philadelphia. But on the surface, it just doesn’t seem like he offers a whole lot more than Blount. Furthermore, he doesn’t address their need for a receiving back.

Locker Room Problems

jay-ajayi-phillyAjayi didn’t have the best attitude in Miami, which is why he was traded in the first place. The Miami Herald reports that he had a bad attitude and was a me-first guy.

Here’s an excerpt from Herald reporter Armando Salguero:

“He complained bitterly about not getting the football. He stormed out of the locker room — get this, after wins — because he hadn’t gotten what he deemed to be enough carries. And, oh yes, he didn’t exactly light it up on the field.

“And here’s the thing: All this was done undercover. Ajayi complained to his position coach. And he carried around an attitude around other teammates. But he never took his concerns to the only voice that matters and that’s Gase.”

Of course, the NFL is all about second chances if you have the talent. But the question is how much Ajayi has outside of a few magical games in 2016. He’s mostly a downhill runner who has a chronic knee condition.

This being the case, don’t look for Philadelphia to put up with much crap from Ajayi if he’s not producing on the field. This is especially the case when considering that they have a 7-1 record and look like legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

Perhaps the latter is why the Eagles are willing to roll the dice on Ajayi for a fourth-round pick. He does add more depth to their backfield. Furthermore, the combination of he and Blount could wear down opposing defenses.

This trade is by no means a slam dunk for Philadelphia until proven so. But it could look good in hindsight if Ajayi regains his 2016 form behind a better offensive line.

World Series Gambler Wins $14 Million by Letting Winnings Ride

dogers-game-6The Houston Astros won their first World Series title by beating the LA Dodgers in seven games. But the biggest winner of all may be a mysterious bettor who won $14 million by betting on the World Series.

Sports betting entrepreneur RJ Bell has kept tabs on this gambler and their winnings. And Bell said that the bettor let their winnings ride for the first six games. Even after hitting $8 million in profits, the anonymous person let their payout ride on the Dodgers (-126) winning Game 6.

Bell was very active on Twitter regarding this big winner, giving followers updates along the way. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have many details on the actual person, other than that they live in Eastern Europe and are under 30 years old. Given the anonymity, the bettor has simply become known as “Sir Let It Ride.”

Vegas lines were allegedly flipped as soon as Sir Let It Ride walked into a casino before Game 6. For example, he went into South Point Hotel Casino to find Houston as a -107 favorite and the Dodgers at +100.

But South Point officials quickly changed LA’s line to -150 to avoid losing as much money in case he won (which he did). Sir Let It Ride placed $250k on the Dodgers, and the odds were returned to their original state after he left.

This part of the story has sparked a war of words between Bell and Brent Musburger that’s still going on.

Scary Game 6 for Sir Let It Ride

It seemed like Sir Let It Ride might lose $8 million on his Game 6 Dodgers bet. The Astros’ George Springer hit a solo home run, and Houston starting pitcher Justin Verlander was doing great.

However, LA touched up Verlander for two runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a 2-1 lead. The Dodgers’ bullpen then played their best of the season to pitch four shutout innings and force a Game 7. The end result is that Sir Let It Ride built his winnings to $14 million with the LA victory.

Walking Away in Game 7

south-point-sportsbookAfter letting his winnings ride for six straight games, the big question is whether or not the bettor would risk everything once again. However, he chose not to put the $14 million back on the line and instead walked away.

While this may not have been the media’s favorite move, it was the smart thing to do. And this is one of the biggest sports betting wins that we’ve heard of.

Bell tweeted that Sir Let It Ride isn’t a regular in Vegas. In fact, the only betting history he has in Sin City includes a few big wagers on the UFC. And Bell’s tweet indicates that he’s done very well in this arena too.

Pure Luck or Genius?

It’s hard to win 55% of your bets, let alone go 6-for-6 in one of the world’s largest sporting events. That said, it’s a wonder if this bettor simply went on an incredibly lucky streak or if they’re some kind of prodigy.

Odds are that this person wouldn’t be able to duplicate this streak in the World Series again if they were given 100 tries. But they still have a talent when considering both their World Series and UFC results.

How 49ers Odds Change with Jimmy Garoppolo

The San Francisco 49ers have been searching for a starting quarterback ever since they parted ways with Colin Kaepernick last offseason. And it appears that they now have their franchise quarterback after trading a 2018 second-round pick to the New England Patriots for Jimmy Garoppolo.

Many thought that New England was grooming Garoppolo to be the successor to Tom Brady. However, this obviously isn’t the case now that he’s on the Niners.

The San Francisco 49ers haven’t been a very good team this season. In fact, they’re 0-8 and have already replaced their opening day QB Brian Hoyer with unheralded rookie C.J. Beathard. Hoyer has since been cut by the team.

Beathard, a third-round pick last April, isn’t exactly considered the future of the franchise. Instead, this is Garoppolo’s position to take over. But the question remains when will the 26-year-old will start? And what will he do for the 49ers when he does play?

Let’s answer both of these questions while discussing how San Francisco’s odds will change with Garoppolo under center.

Why did 49ers Make the Garoppolo Trade Now?

The New England Patriots were in a tough spot with Garoppolo. They could’ve either let him walk in the offseason, or franchise tagged him for $21.3 million. Neither option was particularly attractive when considering that Brady is still at the top of his game at 40 years old.

The Niners also could’ve tried to get Garoppolo or Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins in the offseason. But general manager John Lynch chose to pull the trigger and bring in Garoppolo now.

The timing works well because San Francisco needs a franchise quarterback any way possible. Virtually guaranteed a top-5 pick at this point, San Francisco could have gone for a signal caller in the 2018 NFL Draft. But why take a chance when you can get somebody who’s already considered to be a strong pro talent?

Sure, Garoppolo doesn’t have an abundance of stats to prove his worth. Taken in the second round of the 2014 Draft, the Eastern Illinois alum has only started two games. But it’s worth mentioning that Garoppolo posted a 2-0 record with 690 passing yards, 5 touchdowns, and zero interceptions while filling in for Brady.

The only problem is that he won’t be playing within Bill Belichick’s winning system. But many have faith in first-year head coach Kyle Shanahan to build the 49ers back up again. Garoppolo should appreciate playing under Shanahan when considering that the latter led the Atlanta Falcons’ elite offense last year.

The coach won’t commit to when exactly he expects his new quarterback to take the field.

“I can’t promise you guys that he won’t play this week,” Shanahan told the media. “I can’t promise you guys that he’ll play this year.”

GM John Lynch Speaks on Garoppolo Trade

jimmy-garoppolo-ninersLynch is excited to have Garoppolo aboard and gave a statement to the press about what he expects from the new arrival:

“We are thrilled for Jimmy to join the 49ers family. Jimmy is a player we have researched extensively since Kyle and I joined the 49ers. I am extremely pleased this came together today, and we all think it is a big win for our organization.

“Albeit in limited game action, Jimmy has displayed the characteristics and traits that we believe are vital to being a successful quarterback in this league. He has had the rare opportunity to sit and learn from a future Hall of Fame quarterback in a championship atmosphere. We look forward to Jimmy joining the team tomorrow and hitting the ground running.”

49ers Odds with Garoppolo at QB

It’s almost a guarantee that Garoppolo won’t play this Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. This means that Beathard will once again get another start. And this isn’t a good thing either because Beathard has thrown for two touchdowns, three interceptions, and has completed just 52.7% of his passes.

I certainly don’t buy Shanahan’s assertion that he doesn’t know if Garoppolo will play this season. But he also doesn’t want to put his potential franchise QB on the field without proper time to study the new system.

If Beathard can get a win against the Cardinals this week, he’ll likely start another game while Garoppolo continues to pick up the new offense. But as soon as he loses, look for Shannon to use this as an excuse to put Garoppolo under center.

It’s to the Niners’ benefit to get him some reps during a lost season. This way San Francisco can get some more pieces through the draft and free agency to help their quarterback succeed in the future.

Odds are that San Francisco will become a player again in the NFC West, which has become increasingly tougher with the LA Rams experiencing a resurgence.

But for now, the goal is to simply lay the groundwork and prepare for a successful 2018.

Ohio State in Big Ten’s CFP Driver Seat after Penn State Win

ohio-state-over-penn-stateOhio State football is now in command of the Big Ten East following a 39-38 comeback victory over the No. 7 Penn State Nittany Lions. This is revenge for the No. 3 Buckeyes after their 24-21 upset loss in Happy Valley last season.

The visitors jumped out to a quick lead after Penn State’s star running back Saquon Barkley returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. The Nittany Lions added another first-quarter TD to take a 14-0 lead.

Ohio State battled back, but found themselves down by at least 10 points at three different junctures of the game. Penn State still led with over 2 minutes left in the fourth quarter. But Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett gave Ohio State the lead for good with a 16-yard TD pass to Marcus Baugh. This helped the Buckeyes outscore the Nittany Lions 19-3 in the last stanza.

“You got to give Ohio State, the crowd, the environment, the stadium, Coach (Urban) Meyer, his team credit,” said Penn State coach James Franklin. “They’re obviously a very, very good football team, (and) it’s a tough place to come and get a win.”

“In no way shape or form should anyone have their head down,” tight end Mike Gesicki said following the game. “Obviously, we didn’t have the outcome we wanted, but playing on the road in this kind of atmosphere, to come up that short, we can fix the mistakes, we’ll bounce back.”

Biggest Comeback by an Urban Meyer Team

ohio-state-saquon-barkleyOhio State faced an 18-point deficit at two different points in this game. Their victory over Penn state marks the biggest-ever comeback by an Urban Meyer-coached team.

Barrett is one of the biggest reasons why the Buckeyes never gave up in this game. He was 33-for-39 passing with 328 yards and four touchdowns. Ohio State’s defense also did an excellent job of containing Barkley’s rushing prowess.

One more key factor in their victory included a blocked punt with 11:39 left in the fourth. This is fitting because it was a blocked punt that turned the tide of last year’s contest between these two teams.

“The margin of error is very small when you play these types of games,” said Franklin. “I thought the blocked punt was a huge play in the game.”

The Buckeye’s improving secondary locked down Nittany Lions receivers and helped the team be more aggressive against Penn State QB Trent McSorley. They sacked McSorely twice and stuffed the team’s read-option on the edges.

“They did a good job,” said McSorley. “Especially with that opportunity we had to ice it. They made the plays and we didn’t.”

mcsorley-penn-stateMcSorely was referring to a 10-play, 64-yard drive that resulted in a field goal with 5:42 left. Penn State was driving with momentum and seemed like they’d get into the end zone.

“They did some different stuff,” said Barkley after scoring two touchdowns on 172 all-purpose yards. “They blitzed us a lot more than they usually did, they stopped the run – we just gotta find a way to run the ball.”

Barkley, one of the leading Heisman candidates, tallied 80 yards from scrimmage. But 36 of these yards came on his lone rushing touchdown.

Ohio State Controls Destiny in CFP Race

Things looked gloomy for Ohio State following the early season lost to Oklahoma. However, they’ve put themselves back in control of their College Football Playoff destiny by winning this big showdown.

The Nittany Lions essentially dominated this game for the first three quarters. But this is when Barrett came to life, going 13-for-13 and delivering two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

Perhaps this game wouldn’t have come down to the wire if not for a controversial third-quarter call. McSorley threw a pass into the end zone, where Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward and Penn State receiver DeAndre Thompkins battled for the ball.

penn-state-ohio-state-passOfficials reviewed the play for 5 minutes before determining that the players had joint possession, resulting in a Penn State touchdown. The call gave the Nittany Lions a 15-point lead and seemingly deflated the Buckeyes’ chances.

“What happened, the offensive receiver had full possession of the ball, brought the ball down and completed the process of a catch,” said referee John O’Neill. “He then rolled over and at that point, the Ohio State defender came on him. By rule, joint possession belongs to the offense.”

O’Neill added, “The Penn State receiver had the ball first. He brought the ball down, completed the process of a catch, rolled over at which point the Ohio State defender came down on him.”

Facing even longer odds with 22 minutes left, Ohio State was still able to come back and win the game.

This victory by no means puts Ohio State in the CFP. They still play some good teams down the stretch, including Michigan State (6-2), Iowa (5-3), and Michigan (6-2).

Ohio State will also have to play undefeated Wisconsin (8-0) if the latter wins the Big Ten West. But on paper, No. 2 Penn State is the toughest test that the Buckeyes will face in their conference.

Provided they win out, Ohio State will face the Big Ten West winner in the conference championship with a CFP spot on the line.

Barrett Vaults into Heisman Contention

jt-barrett-heismanBarkley was leading the Heisman race up until this point. But as mentioned before, he struggled most of this game, finishing with 44 rushing yards on 21 carries. Outside of 36-yard touchdown run, he had 8 rushing yards on 20 carries.

Barkley’s struggles were especially noticeable in the fourth quarter, when he couldn’t pick up yardage to run out the clock.

Meanwhile, Barrett shined where Barkley faltered by passing for four touchdowns. This gives Barrett 24 touchdown passes against just one interception on the season. And it makes the Oklahoma game where he struggled so badly seem like a distant memory.

As for Barkley, he’s not totally out of the Heisman race. After all, he did turn in 172 all-purpose yards, and the opening kickoff touchdown. But Ohio State held him well under his average of 211 yards per game.

In the end, Barkley only had to shining moments, including the 97-yard kickoff return and the 36-yard rushing touchdown, where he shed a tackle from lineman Tyquan Lewis.

There’s still a lot of football left to be played, and there are other legitimate Heisman candidates. But right now, it seems like Barrett has a slight lead in the race.

7 Reasons Why Colts’ Andrew Luck Won’t Play Until 2018

andrew-luck-wont-play-2018-1Back in September, we discussed how Andrew Luck might miss a few games this season. Fast-forward to now and it’s questionable if the Indianapolis Colts starting quarterback will even play a game in 2017.

He practiced a couple weeks ago, when shoulder soreness caused a setback. Now, Indianapolis is waiting to see if he can throw with no pain before taking the field again.

But all signs point to Luck sitting out the entire season and waiting until 2018 to play again. Let’s discuss 7 reasons why he won’t be playing until next season.

1. Luck Isn’t 100% and Won’t Be Any Time Soon

andrew-luck-coltsThe main reason why we won’t see Luck on the field this year is because he’s not 100% yet from off-season shoulder surgery.

As mentioned above, he tried practicing and developed soreness in his shoulder. The team has since sidelined him while waiting for the pain to subside.

It was believed that we might see him play at some point in 2017. He was left off the PUP list to begin the season, indicating that Indianapolis thought he had a shot to play before Week 7.

But questions began to swirl when he didn’t actually practice until Week 5. He was quickly shut down after experiencing the aforementioned soreness.

2. The Colts Aren’t Going Anywhere in 2017

andrew-luck-wont-play-2018The truth is that there’s really no timetable on when he’ll be back at this point. Going further, it doesn’t make sense for the 2-5 Colts to rush the quarterback onto the field anyways. The team has very little shot at making the playoffs, and they’re likely to finish last in the AFC South.

Indianapolis has stayed relevant in the playoff landscape largely in part to Andrew Luck’s play. The quarterback has consistently managed to move the offense despite playing with a mediocre offensive line and supporting cast.

This year is no different with the Colts now three games under .500. Their only victories are a pair of 3-point wins over the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers.

The five losses have been by a combined 109 points. Given this fact, it’s no wonder why Football Outsiders considers the Colts to be the worst NFL team this year from a play-by-play perspective.

Compounding matters for Indianapolis is that their schedule only gets tougher from here. It’s fair to assume that the Colts will be underdogs on every point spread most of the season. I expect them to finish 3-13 and land a top-5 pick.

3. The Roster is Too Injured to be Good

chris-ballard-coltsNew GM Chris Ballard made his first order of business to clean house with the roster. This means that 26 players on the active 53-man roster are new from last season.

Ballard was dealt a bad hand, and it’s little surprise that his roster overhaul hasn’t produced any results thus far. What’s worse is that the roster has only gotten thinner due to prominent injuries.

Starting center Ryan Kelly, the team’s first-round pick last year, was out the first four games of the season with a foot problem. Just as soon as Kelly returned, backup center Deyshawn Bond and starting guard Jack Mewhort went on injured reserve. This has left players like undrafted free agent Jeremy Vujnovich starting games and protecting the quarterback.

The defense was dealt a blow when first-round pick Malik Hooker went down with a torn ACL and MCL. The safety has serious potential and game-changing athleticism, but is now on the shelf until 2018. Defensive end John Simon has also been put on injured reserve after tallying 12 quarterback knockdowns – good for eighth in the league.

4. Jacoby Brisset Has Been Decent

jacoby-brissett-coltsIndianapolis tried going with Scott Tolzien to start the season. But his terrible play in the beginning convinced the team to trade for former New England Patriots backup Jacoby Brisset.

The second-year player has been surprisingly effective in his first seven games. Brissett has 1,409 passing yards, 6 combined touchdowns, 3 interceptions, and a 59.7% completion rate.

Brissett certainly isn’t Andrew Luck right now. But he’s been a good enough stop-gap to prevent Indianapolis from getting embarrassed.

Another thing worth mentioning here is that Brissett has been taking a lot of sacks. He’s been sacked 10 times and knocked down 20 times thus far. It’s highly unlikely that the Colts want to rush their franchise star out to take this kind of abuse.

5. Luck isn’t in Game Shape

andrew-luck-playoffsIt’s possible that if Luck were able to return right now, he could help the Colts make a playoff push. But this isn’t the case because he hasn’t practiced in two weeks. Even then, he only practiced for one week before being shut down due to the shoulder soreness.

Lucky simply isn’t in game shape right now. It would probably take at least five weeks before Indianapolis even considers putting him on the field.

That’s three weeks for throwing and getting his shoulder back into shape, followed by another two weeks of serious practices. And this is only in the best case scenario if head coach Chuck Pagano feels that Luck is ready after this limited practice time.

It’s also worth wondering if the quarterback could suffer a setback by playing in 2017. As mentioned above, Brissett is already taking a lot of sacks. This would unlikely change with Luck under center.

6. The Tanking Option is Tempting

andrew-luck-ramsThe big conspiracy theory among sports analysts right now is that the Colts organization is leaning more towards tanking than rushing Luck back to win a few games.

They have little to gain right now from pursing a near-hopeless playoff push with an injury riddled roster. And as discussed before, they have a legitimate shot at a top-5 pick.

Of course, most teams tank because they want to try and grab a franchise quarterback. The way that Carson Wentz and Jared Goff have played this season certainly won’t dissuade teams from doing so in the future.

In the Colts case, they’ve already had their franchise quarterback for a while in Luck. But with little to gain in 2017, it still makes sense to take for a high pick that they can use on another valuable piece. Penn State’s Saquon Barkley or a top defensive player would be interesting options.

The other option is that they can trade this selection for several draft picks. UCLA’s Josh Rosen and USC’s Sam Darnold are highly coveted quarterback prospects. Teams without a good quarterback would be interested in trading up to the draft them. This could buy the Colts enough picks to fill out their roster in Ballard’s vision and give this team a realistic shot at winning again.

Whatever the case may be, Indianapolis is looking at plenty of losses this season. And this ultimately means that they’ll be landing a top-tier talent, or at least a number of draft picks that will be useful.

7. The Organization Needs Change

Odds are that the Colts finish with one of the worst records in football. And they’ll probably fire Pagano after this season and Ballard will look for a new coach. This means that Luck can come back to a fresh start with better players if he waits until next season.

Beyond giving Luck a better supporting cast, this team simply needs talent anyways. Former GM Ryan Grigson didn’t make the best picks during his tenure from 2012-2016. Grigson started well by taking Luck and T.Y. Hilton in the 2012 Draft. He also swung a second-round pick for safety Vontae Davis.

But after that, Grigson’s draft picks failed to pan out and/or play a role in any big trades. No pick from 2013 is still on the roster. And the team used their first round selection from 2014 to trade for Trent Richardson. Phillip Dorsett, the Colts’ 2015 first round pick, was traded to New England for Brissett after two unsuccessful seasons with the team.

That said, Luck’s injury could be a blessing in disguise if it gets the team a high draft pick. This can either become a game-changing player or be used to strengthen the roster in several other areas. Firing Pagano and signing a new coach for 2018 could also help this face-lift and bring in a new culture.