My apologies for the Thursday night NFL preview being a day late this week. Usually these are posted on Tuesday, but there was no line for Colts-Texans until Wednesday morning due to the uncertain status of Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck.
It looks again like the South is clearly the worst division in the AFC as the Colts should be 0-4 in some ways but are 2-2 and still lead the division as the only team at .500. Indy is -300 on Sportsbook.ag to win a third straight AFC South title. That seems quite likely as long as Luck doesn't go down again.
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I actually thought Houston might be a wild-card contender this year -- maybe watching HBO's "Hard Knocks" influenced me too much -- but the Texans are 1-3 because they just don't have a quarterback. Houston is +750 to win the division, behind even Tennessee (+500). I can all but guarantee you that the Texans take a quarterback with their first-round pick next season. Or trade for Texas native Robert Griffin III, which makes too much sense not to happen.
I've been on a roll on these Thursday night games, although last week's Ravens cover in Pittsburgh was incredibly lucky and only because Steelers kicker Josh Scobee missed two field goals. He's now working at Walmart.
Colts at Texans Betting Story Lines
There are conflicting reports out of Indianapolis that Luck has a partial shoulder subluxation. Apparently that is not a dislocation, but considered a "lesser version" of a dislocation. However, the Colts are denying that's what Luck is dealing with. He missed the first game of his NFL career on Sunday, but the Colts escaped with a 16-13 overtime win over Jacksonville. Matt Hasselbeck started for the first time in three years and passed for 282 yards and a touchdown.
Luck did take the majority of snaps in practice on Tuesday and is "trending in the right direction" to play, according to Coach Chuck Pagano. Luck himself said he's going to. As long as there is no setback by Thursday, I'm sure he's in there. Might Luck's arm strength be a bit diminished? That's certainly a possibility. Luck is completing only 56 percent of his passes this year with a league-leading seven picks in his three starts. He's getting no help from a porous offensive line or his running game, which ranks 26th overall. Running back Frank Gore has a minor foot injury but will play. Tight end Dwayne Allen will play after missing Weeks 3 & 4 with an ankle injury. Top cornerback Vontae Davis is questionable with a foot injury.
As for Houston, its only win came at home against the lousy Buccaneers. The Texans were pounded 48-21 in Atlanta on Sunday. Ryan Mallett was just 12-for-27 for 150 yards with a pick before being pulled for Week 1 starter Brian Hoyer with Houston down 42-0. Yet Bill O'Brien says he is sticking with Mallett as his starter. The lowest-rated QB in the NFL is Luck. Mallett is second-to-last, completing only 51.8 percent of his passes with three scores and three picks. I don't think Mallett has a long leash here because a Texans loss ends their season for the most part.
Houston did see the season debut of Arian Foster against Atlanta off his torn groin suffered at the start of training camp. He had only 10 yards on eight carries with three catches. Expect him to be much more involved this week. Foster owns the Colts with 960 yards and eight touchdowns in eight career matchups against them. Injury-wise, Houston is going to be without receivers Nate Washington and Cecil Shorts. But cornerback Kareem Jackson will play after getting hurt Sunday vs. the Falcons.
Considering the Colts have won 15 straight AFC South games, they obviously swept Houston last year. In Week 6 on a Thursday in Houston, the Colts won 33-28. It was 24-0 after one quarter and the Texans nearly got all the way back. Luck was 25-for-44 for 370 yards, three scores and a pick. Foster ran 20 times for 109 yards and two scores for Houston. Mallett didn't play in that game (Ryan Fitzpatrick). J.J. Watt had a 45-yard fumble return for a score. In Week 15 in Indianapolis, the Colts won 17-10 to clinch the AFC South. Luck was 18-for-34 for 187 yards, two scores and a pick. Mallett didn't play in that game, either. Foster carried 26 times for 99 yards.
Colts at Texans Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes, the game is a pick'em (Colts -120) with a total of 45. There is thus no moneyline. On alternate lines, the Colts are -1 (-110) and -1.5 (-105). Indianapolis is 0-4 against the spread this season and 1-3 "over/under." Houston is 1-3 ATS and 2-1-1 O/U.
The Colts have covered 11 of their past 13 on Thursday. They are 7-1 ATS in their past eight road games vs. teams with a losing home record. The Colts are 0-5 ATS in their past five vs. the AFC. Houston is 5-2 ATS in its past seven following a loss. The Texans are 0-5 ATS in their past five on Thursday. The under is 6-1 in Indy's past seven after a win. The under is 5-2 in its past seven on the road. The over is 4-0 in Houston's past four in October. The Colts are 4-0-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 7-2 in the past nine.
NFL Expert Picks Against the Spread: Colts at Texans Betting Predictions
I generally base my picks on which team has the better quarterback. And obviously that's the Colts normally. But I find it hard to believe Luck is close to 100 percent just four days after sitting out a game. Plus, no Davis would be a big deal. Houston was a pretty good team with a healthy Foster last year and played the Colts tough. Take the Texans and go under.
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