The Indianapolis Colts finished last season second in the AFC South with a 9-8 record, needing only one win over the Jacksonville Jaguars to make the playoffs. They came up short with a devastating loss as substantial favorites in the season’s final week.
On March 16, the Colts traded their starting quarterback Carson Wentz and a 2022 seventh-round pick to the Washington Commanders. Indianapolis got back a 2022 third-round pick, a 2023 conditional third-round pick, and swapped 2022 second-round picks with Washington.
In need of a quarterback, the Colts traded for Matt Ryan on March 21. Indianapolis gave up a 2022 third-round pick to the Atlanta Falcons in exchange. From a pure assets point of view, this is a net positive exchange.
Trade!! The #Falcons are in agreement on a trade of QB Matt Ryan to the #Colts, per @MikeGarafolo, @TomPelissero and me. ATL gets a 3rd back.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 21, 2022
Fallout from the Deshaun Watson situation, with Ryan starting over in Indy. Ryan gets a contract adjustment with more guaranteed money.
However, what does this mean for Indianapolis odds to win the AFC South, AFC Championship, and ultimately, Super Bowl LVII?
In 2021, Wentz had 322 completions for 3,563 passing yards and 27 touchdowns for the Colts. He had seven interceptions and was sacked 32 times in 17 games. Wentz threw for 209.6 yards per game and had a 54.7 quarterback rating.
In comparison, Ryan completed 375 passes for 3,968 yards and 20 touchdowns in 17 games for the Falcons. He also threw 12 interceptions and was sacked 40 times. Ryan threw for 233.4 passing yards per game and had a 46.1 quarterback rating.
Ryan is a marginal, albeit slightly riskier, upgrade over Wentz from a pure statistics view. However, the Colts’ offense is far superior to that of the Falcons. Jonathan Taylor is the preeminent running back in the league, rushing for 1,811 yards and 18 touchdowns last season. Taylor had 552 more yards than the next closest back.
Cordarrelle Patterson offers Atlanta a lot of flexibility in their offense. Still, the Falcons relied heavily on Patterson’s receiving ability and Kyle Pitts at tight end due to a weaker receiving core. Indianapolis doesn’t boast a robust receiving core beyond Michael Pittman, but Taylor will always be a trump card in any offense.
Ryan will turn 37-years-old in May as he enters his 15th NFL season, and his output is declining. It’s tough to say how fast that decline will be or if he can bounce back this season, but father time is not on his side.
Over at FanDuel Sportsbook, the Colts were +2400 to win Super Bowl LVII and have improved to +1300 since Ryan’s acquisition. Indianapolis’ odds of winning the AFC South are lockstep with the Tennesse Titans at +120, which is fair considering the bottom-dwelling Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars are not expected to improve much over the last season.
The Colts’ odds to win the AFC Championship haven’t changed much and sit at +1300. It’s not too surprising with powerhouses like the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs leading the way at +360 and +450. In addition, teams ahead of the Colts, like the Denver Broncos and Cleveland Browns, have made significant adds to their lineups. The Broncos acquired Russell Wilson, and the Browns traded for Deshaun Watson.
It looks as though Ryan will increase the Colts’ odds slightly but probably doesn’t necessitate their odds to win the Super Bowl improving from +2400 to +1300.