NFL Expert Picks Against the Spread: Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
I don't know about you, but I'm still burning over losing my wager on the Pittsburgh Steelers at -2.5 last week against the visiting Los Angeles Chargers. The Steelers had every opportunity to blow that game open in the first half. Even with their mistakes, they still led 23-7 at the break. Shoot, I basically turned the game off. After all, Pittsburgh had been 174-0-1 at home all-time with at least a 16-point lead and hadn't blown that big of a deficit anywhere since Nov. 8, 1991, against the Seahawks. Of course, we all know the Chargers rallied for a 33-30 victory. Typical Pittsburgh late-season choke job.
It's purely a coincidence that I will be previewing both AFC South games in Week 14 - that's probably my least favorite division in the NFL and easily the most uninteresting. For the Thursday game, we liked the Titans to beat the visiting Jaguars , and here we're looking at Colts-Texans, with Houston trying to extend its franchise-best winning streak to 10.
Even with a loss here, Houston (9-3) surely will win the AFC South and is the -625 favorite to do so. The Texans still have their eyes on the conference's top seed, however. They sit third currently, a game behind Kansas City and losing a head-to-head tiebreaker with No. 2 New England. Houston's remaining schedule is at the Jets, at the Eagles and vs. the Jaguars. That looks like 2-1 to me. I'm just not sure the Chiefs will lose twice to get to four losses. Not sure the Patriots lose more than once. So I'd project the No. 3 seed for Houston, which as of now would earn a home date with Baltimore.
Indianapolis (6-6) is eighth in the AFC, behind the 7-5 Ravens and 6-6 Dolphins but ahead of fellow 6-6 teams Denver and Tennessee (obviously before the Titans' result on Thursday, which I expect to be a victory). Indy would win a head-to-head tiebreaker with just Miami but loses it right now with multiple teams at 6-6. Frankly, the Colts have no other relevant victories. Their remaining schedule is: vs. Cowboys, vs. Giants, at Titans. Could be 3-0 but more likely 2-1.
Colts at Texans Betting Story Lines
It has been quite the roller-coaster ride for the Texans this season. I believe that Coach Bill O'Brien is fired if Houston doesn't pull out a crazy 37-34 overtime win in Indianapolis in Week 4 to avoid a 0-4 start. You may remember that first-year Colts coach Frank Reich, who has done a nice job overall as the team's second choice (Josh McDaniels), had a completely puzzling decision to go for it on fourth-and-4 from the Colts' 43 very late in OT.
If Indy punts there, the game is going to end up tied because Houston would likely be deep in its territory with about 20 seconds left and no timeouts. Andrew Luck threw an incomplete pass, though, and three plays later the Texans won on a 37-yard Ka'imi Fairbairn field goal - only after he had missed the first attempt but was iced at the last second by Reich. Definitely not a game Reich will remember fondly. Both Luck (464 yard, four TDs) and Deshaun Watson (374 yards, two TDs, one rushing TD) had big games. DeAndre Hopkins finished with 10 catches for 169 yards and a TD, but the only thing anyone remembers is a catch I've never seen before that was waived off due to penalty.
Now, O'Brien might get an extension and Houston is the first team to win nine straight after beginning 0-3. Sadly, though, owner Bob McNair died a few weeks ago. He was the big reason why the city of Houston got the NFL back after the Oilers left for Tennessee.
As for the Colts, they started 1-5 and then won five straight as Luck put himself into the MVP conversation. He brought a streak of eight straight games with at least three TD passes into Jacksonville last week, the second-best in history, but Indy was blanked 6-0 in a puzzling result. FiveThirtyEight dropped the Colts' playoff hopes from 29 percent to 9 percent after that.
Luck threw it 52 times but for just 248 yards and a pick. He was sacked three times after getting hit just five times in the entire month of November and sacked just once in the previous five games. It marked the first time Luck had been shut out in 82 games during his seven-year NFL career. Indy was 0-for-3 on fourth down. Again too aggressive from Reich? He says he will continue to be on fourth down.
Colts at Texans Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Houston is a 4.5-point favorite (-110) with a total of 49. On the moneyline, the Texans are -220 and Colts +180. On the alternate lines, Houston is -4 (-118) and -5 (-103). The Colts are 5-6-1 against the spread (3-3 on road) and 6-6 "over/under" (3-3 on road). The Texans are 6-6 ATS (3-3 at home) and 5-7 O/U (3-3 at home).
Indianapolis is 3-8-1 ATS in its past 12 vs. the AFC South. The Texans have covered five straight vs. the AFC. They are 1-7 ATS in their past eight in December. The under is 6-0 in the Colts' past six vs. teams with a winning record. It's 7-3 in Houston's previous 10 after a win. Indy is 4-0-1 ATS in its past five in Houston. The over is 4-1 in the previous five there.
Colts at Texans Betting Prediction
A win here clinches the AFC South for Houston even if Tennessee wins Thursday. Those teams split, but the tiebreakers would go the Texans' way. If Houston is leading at halftime here, feel good about your chances. It is 30-1 when leading at halftime in O'Brien's five seasons. We like Houston at -4 and over the total.
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