- The Indianapolis Colts need some ‘help’ from other teams to get into the NFL playoffs.
- To avoid distraction, the team will not show scores involving Baltimore, Cleveland, Miami and Tennessee on the stadium scoreboard.
- Indy must win and one of the aforementioned teams lose to qualify for the postseason.
It wasn’t that long ago that it was tough for a sports bettor to keep up with scores. Before the smartphone era, a serious handicapper had to be proactive to keep up to speed with what was going on. The state of the art was a dedicated ‘Sports Pager’ that provided updated scores and odds every few minutes. The less elegant solution was the once ubiquitous ‘ScorePhone’–if you didn’t mind listening to a hysterical pitch from one or more dubiously qualified touts this wasn’t a bad option. In Nevada, the less motivated could just sit in the sportsbook in these halcyon pre-social distancing days and just watch scores as they updated on the ticker.
It’s reached the point in 2020 that you have to take proactive steps if you *don’t* want to see scores of one or more games on the schedule. That’s exactly what the Indianapolis Colts will be doing this weekend as they host the Jacksonville Jaguars in a game with playoff implications. If Indy is to make the playoffs they must beat the Jaguars–this is arguably the easy part since Jacksonville is 1-14 and more interested in the future as they have the first pick in the draft to presumably select Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The tricky part of the equation is that the Colts need to get some help from their AFC brethren.
If Indianapolis can get a win over Jacksonville and either Baltimore, Cleveland, Miami or Tennessee lose they’re in the postseason. To avoid any possible distraction for players and coaches, however, they’re not going to show the out of town scores on the scoreboard at Lucas Oil Stadium during Sunday’s game. Since the Jaguars have already clinched the first overall pick in the 2021 draft they might be a tricky opponent. They’re no doubt anxious to end their 14 game losing streak. Given this motivation–and their 7-3 record the last 10 times they’ve faced the Colts–Indy isn’t going to take any chances.
Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich concedes that the scores of out of town games aren’t a distraction to all players:
“Maybe not to all guys, but if it’s a distraction to one guy, that’s one guy too many. It’s better not to have them up there. It’s irrelevant. It can do nothing to add to what we have to focus on. It only has a potential negative effect in our view.”
Heightening the possibility for distraction–three of the four relevant out of town games are 10 AM Pacific starts. The Colts play at 4:25 as will the Tennessee Titans, who will play on the road against Houston. What is less clear is the motivational situation for the teams that Indy needs to lose (well, at least one of them). The Miami Dolphins play at 12-3 Buffalo but the Bills have already clinched the divisional title. The Bills still have home field advantage to concern themselves with and another game on their home field should they win the first is definitely something to play for.
The Baltimore Ravens need to beat the 4-10 Cincinnati Bengals on the road to make the postseason. Cleveland needs to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers d–the Steelers are in a similar situation as Buffalo and have the same record heading into the game (12-3) but the Bills hold the edge based on a win over Pittsburgh earlier this year. Tennessee plays at Houston with the Texans already out of the playoff hunt.
The NFL betting lines don’t give Jacksonville much of a chance at derailing the Colts’ postseason bid. Indianapolis is a -14 point home favorite against the lowly Jaguars. In the other relevant games, the Cleveland Browns are a -9.5 home favorite over the Steelers, the Titans are a -7.5 road chalk over Houston and the Dolphins are a +2 point underdog playing at Buffalo.