All Atlanta Falcons fans want for Christmas is a new head coach, but this Christmas Eve, Arthur Smith will have a chance to begin his redemption by following up the worst loss of the season with a huge win over the Indianapolis Colts. Indy is also in the thick of a playoff hunt, so star performers on both sides could be in for a big day. Let’s dig into some Colts vs. Falcons player prop picks and odds for a Sunday (12/24/23) cross-conference matchup with tremendous playoff implications on both sides.
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Indianapolis Colts vs. Atlanta Falcons Player Prop Picks
Even with Anthony Richardson still out, the Colts will be eager to attack a lackluster Falcons pass defense, while Atlanta will have the opportunity to run the ball- they just have to take it.
Gardner Minshew Over 218.5 Passing Yards (-115)
The Falcons’ pass defense is not doing all that well. Jessie Bates continues to play some great football in his new home, but he doesn’t have much help in the secondary. The D-line isn’t too helpful either, as they rank 28th in adjusted sack rate.
Atlanta is 23rd in PFF’s coverage grades and 29th for pass rush, while grading a ridiculous 30th in DVOA against the pass. Some of its surface-level metrics are fine, but playing in the NFC South on a fourth-place schedule will prop up numbers that aren’t opponent-adjusted like DVOA.
Meanwhile, the Indy passing attack has been very functional with backup Gardner Minshew at the helm. Last game, he was just below this number with 215 yards in a very comfortable win over a spiraling Steelers team, but he comfortably surpassed the mark in each of his previous three contests.
With running backs Jonathan Taylor and Zack Moss both dealing with varying levels of injury, and top wideout Michael Pittman Jr. seemingly on track to play, this could be a big opportunity for Minshew to shine. The Colts are road underdogs, so they should be throwing all day long in a game that should remain very competitive for four quarters.
Bijan Robinson Over 84.5 Total Yards (-115)
Let’s start by breaking this down into individual components; Robinson’s rushing and receiving props. His rushing total is set at 59.5 yards, which he cracked in two of Taylor Heinicke’s three previous appearances. In the third, he ran for 51 yards, so he was in the right ballpark.
All of this is a good indicator of what the play calling might be like with Heinicke back in the lineup, especially against a terrible Colts run defense. Indy is 23rd in DVOA against the run, 25th for success rate and 21st in EPA. Compared to a surprisingly solid pass defense, running the ball could be a good approach for Atlanta.
But, Robinson’s receiving prop is also a bit underpriced, set at 20.5 yards after a three yard receiving performance a week ago. He broke past the 20-yard mark three weeks in a row before that outing, and if the Falcons do fall behind, he could be heavily involved in a checkdown capacity as Heinicke negotiates a challenging Indy pass rush.
DeForest Buckner Over 0.25 Sacks (+130)
The Colts have quietly put together a very solid pass rush, based not around blitzing players from the second and third levels, but strong defensive line play. Gus Bradley’s unit is sixth in the league in defensive line adjusted sack rate, allowing the team to achieve the 18th-highest pressure rate in the league while blitzing less than any other squad.
Buckner is the heart of that strong defensive line. He’s the fourth-highest graded pass rushing interior lineman in the NFL per PFF with a score of 87.4, trailing only Dexter Lawrence, Aaron Donald and Javon Hargrave. He’s coming off of a performance where he picked up a grade of 87.2, and has gone over this number in two of his past three games.
There should be ample opportunity for Buckner to pick up sacks as well. As I’ve alluded to, I believe that the Falcons might be behind more than the spread would suggest, which would mean more dropbacks. With multiple injuries across an Atlanta offensive line that already ranked 25th in adjusted sack rate, Buckner will definitely have the ability to create havoc and make things tough for Heinicke.
Younghoe Koo Over 1.5 Field Goals Made (-125)
Once again, we’re going to look back to the last time Heinicke was at the helm, which included two starts and a big chunk of a third game. Over those three contests, Koo nailed eight field goals, as Atlanta’s red-zone offense was far from automatic.
In fact, the Falcons haven’t been perfect in that part of the field regardless of who’s at the helm; They rank just 19th in offensive red-zone efficiency, as they’ve turned just 52.5% of their trips inside the opponent’s 20-yard line into six points. The Colts defense is about average in the red zone, allowing touchdowns on 56.82% of opponent drives inside the 20, to it’s not like there’s going to be a touchdown on every red zone possession.
The Falcons should be able to move the ball. We’ve already discussed their ground advantage, so it’s not like they should be stagnant all game long, they just can’t really be trusted to finish drives. Koo hasn’t hit this number in either of his past two games. In fact, he’s gone over just once in five contests, so this is a fantastic opportunity to buy low on a prop that the numbers are seriously pointing to.