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Colts rule out QB Luck, sportsbooks scramble to adjust Thursday’s NFL odds
By Jason Logan
Groans from football bettors were heard across the continent Thursday morning when news broke that Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck would miss tonight’s game against the Houston Texans, leaving the 1-3 Colts in the hands of veteran backup Matt Hasselbeck once again. That switch has most sportsbooks dealing Indianapolis as a 4.5-point road underdog for this standalone divisional matchup.
Oddsmakers had a sneaking suspicion that Luck, who is nursing a shoulder injury, may miss more time after sitting out Week 4’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, in which Indianapolis squeaked out a 16-13 overtime victory with Hasselbeck under center. So the original line was admittedly shaded to reflect his health.
Books opened with the Colts as high as -1 and that quickly dropped with money coming in on Houston. At CG Technology books in Las Vegas, they opened the game pick and actually had Indianapolis as a rare half-point favorite shortly before going the other way.
“We had an idea that he may not play,” Jason Simbal, vice president of risk management for CG Technology, says about Luck. “But this one has been all over the place.”
As rumors got louder of Luck’s status, the line swung sharply to Houston -2 and when word became official Thursday morning, books were dealing the Texans as big as -4.5 before Colts money bought back the visitor.
“So, Andrew Luck is only worth about four points,” says Simbal. “I bet if you told someone that at the start of the year, they’d think you were crazy. Now, that’s a banged-up, injured Luck playing for a bad team. A healthy Luck on a good team is worth a lot more.”
Simbal says plenty of the early Houston action skipped the short spread and took the Texans’ moneyline to win outright. The moneyline odds – with the game opening at a pick’em (essentially the same thing) – were -110 a side but that quickly shifted, and now CG Technology is dealing Houston at -210 (Colts +180) to win straight up.
Online, at Sportsbook, they opened Houston as a 2-point home favorite knowing Luck was not 100 percent and quickly jumped to -4 when he was ruled out for the primetime AFC South showdown. According to Peter Childs, their supervisor of risk management, there is more money on the Colts but most of that came in before the star QB was shelved for tonight.
“If Luck were 100 percent healthy, the Colts would have been 3-point road favorites, in my opinion,” Childs. “With him hurting, they were around a pick, with him questionable around +2. And now that he’s out, they’re getting a full four points. Essentially he’s worth a touchdown to his team.”
The total has also reflected the swap at quarterback for Indianapolis. Books opened with this Over/Under around 44 points and it was as high as 45 before plummeting to 41 points upon news of Luck’s health. Since then, some money has bought back the Over with the total sitting as high as 41.5.
“Our total came crashing down now that Luck is officially listed as doubtful, going from 44 all the way down to 41, a low total these days for an NFL game,” says Childs. “At the adjusted total of 41, we’re seeing good two-way action and I suspect we’ll continue to see good two-way action.”