The landscape of the NFL changed on Saturday night when Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck shockingly revealed he would be retiring. The decision not only shook the organization and its fan base to its core, but also had a drastic impact on the Super Bowl odds—among many other props—at sportsbooks around the world. With Luck under center, Indianapolis was a franchise that many felt had the potential to compete for a championship and the betting lines reflected it, but now it’s clear that the club could be in for a rocky 2019 NFL season.
Zak Keefer highlighted all the injury issues Luck has had to deal with in recent seasons:
Prior to Luck’s surprise retirement announce, the Colts were hovering around +1600 (or 16-1, which would return $16 for every $1 risked) to win Super Bowl LIV, odds that implied a chance of approximately 6% that they would raise a banner. Once news spread that the 29-year-old signal-caller would be hanging up his cleats, sportsbooks quickly reacted by adjusting their championship lines and removed Indianapolis from the upper echelon of title contenders for the upcoming campaign. The team plummeted to 50-1, dropping it into a longshot category alongside peers like the Oakland Raiders and Tennessee Titans.
Those weren’t the only odds that shifted due to Luck’s decision to leave the NFL behind, as the Colts also saw their projected win total for the 2019 season fall from 9.5 to 6.5. They were the odds-on favorite to win the AFC South at even money, but now find themselves with the worst odds of any team in the division at +450, well behind the new favorite Houston Texans at +175. Unsurprisingly their chances at claiming a conference title are also in the dumps, shifting all the way from 8-1 down to 25-1. It’s now looking unlikely that Indianapolis even makes the postseason, with their playoff odds moving from -200 (wager $2 to win $1 on a Colts playoff berth) to +400, a 46.7% drop in implied probability.
Bettors looking ahead to Week 1 of the 2019 NFL season will see a big swing in odds for Indy’s opener on the road against the Los Angeles Chargers. The squad was already a slight, three-point underdog in the contest, but now finds itself getting more than a touchdown with the line moving to LAC -7.5. The Colts will once again turn to Jacoby Brissett, the former New England Patriots backup who was acquired via trade right before the 2017 season, to start under center in that game. Brissett started all but one game for Indianapolis during 2017, completing 276-of-469 passing attempts for 3,098 yards and 13 touchdowns, but was intercepted seven times and was took a league high 52 sacks on the way to a 4-11 record. The NC State product will have his work cut out getting his franchise back to the postseason and oddsmakers believe he may not even last the full year as the starter. He’s been given an over/under of 10.5 starts for the upcoming campaign, which indicate the organization is likely to explore other options at the position.
One of the possibilities being kicked around by fans for a Luck replacement is the return of Colts legend Peyton Manning. The future Hall of Famer retired after winning a Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos following the 2015 season and hasn’t expressed any public indication of wanting to return to the gridiron, but bookmakers have put him up on the board as the longest of shots to answer the call. Bettors that believe Manning will once again lace ‘em up can find 5,000-1 odds at Sportsbook.ag, a line that implies a probability that is effectively none.
A more likely scenario is for Luck to eventually fill the own void his retirement has created. Because the four-time Pro Bowler retired in an unprecedented manner on the heels of a wildly successful season and with plenty potentially left in the tank, there’s a decent chance he ends up walking back the decision in the very near future.
FiveThirtyEight researched just how unique Luck’s decision to call it a career at this point in it actually is:
Sportsbooks are already accounting for this, setting odds of +700 for Luck’s return at some point during the 2019 NFL season and +500 that he’s back by the 2020 campaign. Still, the more likely outcome—based on what is known at this juncture—is that this retirement is the real deal and sticks. Shops have placed a line on Luck not playing at all during the upcoming season at -1500, which suggests a 94% chance he stays in retirement, at least for 2019. Those odds dips to -1000 for the 2020 NFL season, but that still implies less than a 10% chance the quarterback returns to the field in that time frame.