The Indianapolis Colts came into the 2019 NFL season as one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl and only five teams had higher season win totals than their 9.5 posted.
But when news came Saturday night that star QB Andrew Luck was going to immediately retire it sent Las Vegas sportsbooks scrambling to adjust everything posted involving the Colts.
“There were multiple markets settled with two weeks before the season starts so there was a lot of adjusting to do,” said Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook VP of bookmaking Jeff Sherman.
The first priority was deciding what Luck’s worth is to the number and there was an immediate difference of opinion between the first two books to repost. Circa sportsbook took only 25 minutes after the news broke and adjusted from Chargers -4 to -6. Circa book director Matt Metcalf later said they made a 4-point adjustment in their Colts rating. They had been bet up from -3 to -4 and shortly after opening -6 they were bet up to -7.
About 25 minutes after Circa posted their number, CG Technology books opened the Chargers -9.5 and got immediate action on the Colts pushing them down to -9, -8 and eventually -7.
“I personally think Luck is worth 6.5 to 7-points so I told the guys ‘Let’s start at -9.5 and move it aggressively with each bet,’ we’re only taking a couple dimes on it,” said CG sportsbook director Tony DiTommaso.
He also said that the low Week 1 limits are only on the Colts-Chargers game and the Rams-Panthers game because Cam Newton got banged up last week and was wearing a walking boot. He said anyone could walk through the door and bet $50,000 on the other Week 1 games.
Las Vegas oddsmaker Kenny White also said Luck’s value was at least 6.5 points to the number. His top-rated QB is Patrick Mahomes, who he said is worth 8 points while Tom Brady is 6 points to give some perspective to how important Luck was to the Colts rating.
It’s a big dropoff to Jacoby Brissett, however, Brissett has shown he can win games and that was the main factor with Circa’s Metcalf when adjusting their number.
The SuperBook adjusted their Week 1 Colts numbers, games of the year, and all Colts futures on Sunday morning. They opened what was a market number with Chargers -7.
“Before the news, we had the Colts season win total set at 9.5 over -140 and adjusted down to 7,5 under -130,” Sherman said. “We dropped them from a -140 favorite to win the division to the longest odds of the four at 4-1 and we moved them from 12-1 to win the Super Bowl up to 60-1.”
The South Point opened the Colts-Chargers game Sunday morning at LA -7.5.
CG books moved the Jaguars from 3-1 down to 9-5 as the favorite to win the AFC South and the Texans from 3-1 down to 2-1 despite losing Lamar Miller for the season with a torn ACL. The Titans went from 5-1 down to 3-1 and the Colts went from -140 to 6-1.
“Lamar Miller would have been the news of the day if not for Luck,” DiTommaso said.
The ripple effect of Luck saying goodbye went further than just the Colts and AFC South. CG books lowered the Ravens to win the AFC from 22-1 down to 16-1, the Steelers from 10-1 down to 8-1 and the Jets from 35-1 to 30-1.
“We went through the process of asking ourselves how many other teams does it affect outside the division,” DiTommaso said. “The Colts were one of the favorites so it increases the chances of teams like the Ravens and Steelers to make the playoff and go further.”
On Sunday afternoon, CG books took a $15,000 Super Bowl wager on the Chiefs at 6-1 most likely because the Chiefs path through the AFC just got easier with Luck gone. The same guy came back two hours later and bet another $10,000 on the Chiefs at 6-1. The two bets forced CG to move the Chiefs to +550 (11-2).
It’s still hard to believe for most of us that star as big as Luck at 29 years old would hang it up so suddenly.
“Luck made the Colts competitive and gave bettors confidence in backing the Colts as well as the Over. It really leaves the Colts in a terrible situation heading into their 2019 campaign and probably little support at the wagering window as well,” said Station Casinos sportsbook director Jason McCormick.
The last time a player rated close to Luck’s high rating had a preseason issue was Tony Romo in 2016 and that was when he was healthy. Dak Prescott had won the job.
But when Romo got hurt expectations were that he would return by Week 5, so it wasn’t the same. Peyton Manning missed the 2011 season, but bookmakers knew about his surgery in the summer and weren’t blindsided by it. And because of Manning missing the season, they got the No. 1 overall pick and drafted Luck.
The crazy thought of all is that Tom Brady outlasted both Manning and Luck.