Indianapolis (2-4) at San Francisco (2-3)
When: Sunday, October 24th, 2021
Where: Levi’s Stadium,
Santa Clara, CA
Time: 8:20 ET | TV: NBC
Opening Odds: San Francisco -5/44.5
Two teams in desperate need of a win will square off on Sunday Night Football as the Indianapolis Colts visit the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. The Colts defense stepped up in a big way last Sunday in a 30-3 win over the hapless Houston Texans, while quarterback Carson Wentz continues to improve. The former Philadelphia Eagle completed 25-of-35 passes for a career-best 402 yards in a 31-25 overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Oct. 11 and averaged 20.3 yards per completion last week versus Houston. Indianapolis is 2-4 on the season, but are in second place in the AFC South, two games behind the Tennessee Titans, who the Colts will host next Sunday afternoon.
San Francisco traded their 2021 first-round pick (12th overall), first-round picks in 2022 and 2023 and a 2022 third-rounder to Miami ahead of this year’s draft to move up from No. 12 to No. 3 overall and landed quarterback Trey Lance. They did that even though Jimmy Garoppolo had led the Niners to the Super Bowl just two years ago. Garoppolo will be the starting quarterback Sunday as he returns from a calf injury that caused him to miss the Week 5 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Lance started against Arizona but sprained his left knee and has been ruled out for this contest.
San Francisco is a 4-point favorite in this game with a total of 45 points. Dating to their Baltimore days, the Colts are 26-18 all-time against the 49ers. Indy won its fourth straight in the series in the most recent meeting in 2017 in overtime. The quarterbacks that day were Brian Hoyer for the 49ers and Jacoby Brissett for the Colts. The road team is 4-1 against the spread in the past five meetings.
Head coach Frank Reich wants his offense to be run-first behind second-year running back Jonathan Taylor, who had 145 yards rushing and two scores on 14 carries against Houston. Wentz didn’t throw an interception and has just one pick on the season. Wide receiver Parris Campbell caught a 51-yard TD pass but suffered what is thought to be a serious foot injury. Fellow wideout T.Y. Hilton made his season debut Sunday after missing the first five games with an injury and had four catches for 80 yards. He did suffer a minor quad injury. The Colts should be able to establish the run against a 49ers defense that ranks 18th in the NFL with 113.2 rushing yards allowed per game and 16th with 4.3 yards allowed per carry. The defense is led by middle linebacker Darius Leonard, who forced one of three turnovers vs. the Texans. Three-time Pro Bowl guard Quenton Nelson (ankle, knee) is expected to be activated from injured reserve after missing three straight games.
San Francisco has lost three straight but are coming off a bye week that gives a banged-up team more time to heal. Lance made his starting debut and was 15-for-29 for 192 yards with a pick but led the team with 89 yards on 16 carries before getting injured at Arizona. The rushing attack was led by Lance in that one for a team that is 12th in the league with 122.0 rushing yards a contest. The defense, who has only two takeaways this season, needs to step up. The 49ers managed to keep Arizona’s potent offense to just below 20 points. The Colts are just 22nd in the league in third-down conversion percentage and 19th in points per game (23.2). Nick Bosa leads the team with five sacks. San Francisco ruled out defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw (knee). The under is 5-0 in the 49ers’ last five games after a bye week.
I like taking this Colts team on the road when they are an underdog. They have covered seven of their last nine away from home, while the 49ers are just 5-22-1 ATS in their last 28 home games as a favorite.
Pick: Colts +4
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