NFL Predictions: Colts at Texans Odds and Week 9 Picks
by Alan Matthews - 10/30/2013
What an unbelievably bad week of NFL football we have been given in Week 9, with only one game matching teams with a winning record, and that's Monday night's Bears-Packers matchup. Since I preview the MNF games anyway, I had to find another one for Sunday. So I'll go with the prime-time matchup Sunday between the Colts and Texans in Houston. It's almost like Peyton Manning never left Indy, because the TV networks still love the Colts as this will be their third straight prime-time game.
Both teams come off the bye, and it couldn't have been at a better time for Houston -- apparently Gary Kubiak will stay the coach through the season, because if he was going to be canned it would have been in the bye week. The Texans have dropped five straight and are the most disappointing team in the AFC; the Falcons, another reigning division winner, are also 2-5 and get the NFC nod.
The Colts probably are glad they had last week off, because you know playing in Week 8 would have been a major letdown game after all the emotion surrounding Indy's 39-33 win over Denver on Oct. 20 in Peyton Manning's return. There was one huge bit of bad news in that one: top receiver Reggie Wayne was lost for the season. I'm a bit surprised the Colts didn't address that position before Tuesday's trade deadline, but maybe they didn't want to surrender another pick after giving up a 2014 first-round for Trent Richardson.
Colts at Texans Betting Story Lines
It appears Matt Schaub's days in Houston might be over after this season. He missed the team's last game, a 17-16 loss at Kansas City, with foot/ankle injuries. Schaub is healthy enough to play this week, but Kubiak is going with former University of Houston star and the holder of most NCAA career passing records, Case Keenum. He showed some promise against that excellent Kansas City defense, going 15-of-25 for 271 yards with a touchdown and no picks -- snapping a five-game streak in which a Houston QB had a pick returned for a score. The Chiefs did start to rattle him in the fourth quarter as Keenum was sacked four times and fumbled twice. K.C. recovered the second and was able to run out the clock. Kubiak liked the spark Keenum provided -- especially in the downfield passing game -- so that's why he's sticking with the rookie. Schaub will be his backup.
Keenum may or may not have his top two running backs, Arian Foster or Ben Tate. Foster was limited to four carries against the Chiefs with a hamstring injury, while Tate suffered cracked ribs in the game but did finish. Foster hadn't practiced through Wednesday, and Tate did Wednesday. Both are game-time calls, although Foster said he planned to play. If neither does, you have the rather unknown trio of Deji Karim, Ray Graham and Dennis Johnson. All three were signed to the active roster on Monday.
As for the Colts, their primary concern is replacing Wayne. Now the top two guys are T.Y. Hilton and Darrius Heyward-Bey. The former Raiders first-round bust Heyward-Bey has just 18 catches for 190 yards this season but is now technically the No. 1 guy. The guys behind Heyward-Bey and Hilton? Some dudes named LaVon Brazill, Griff Whalen and David Reed. Expect tight end Coby Fleener to see a ton of throws. I'm rather shocked the Colts haven't called Randy Moss or Terrell Owens -- things are that bad. Or at least someone like Brandon Lloyd.
We really may find out how good Andrew Luck is this week as it's the first time he will play a pro game without Wayne, his security blanket. I don't want to compare Luck to Tom Brady yet, but look how Brady has struggled without his guy, Wes Welker. Wayne had been targeted a team-high 58 times. Houston, meanwhile, has allowed the fewest passing yards in the NFL by far (146 per game). It has played some good QBs, too: Philip Rivers, Joe Flacco, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick.
The Colts might have to be more run-heavy, which could mean more work for Richardson. Maybe the Browns knew what they were doing after all in dealing the 2012 No. 3 overall pick. He has carried the ball 75 times for just 228 yards as a Colt, a lousy 3.0 yards per carry. Richardson only averaged 3.6 ypc as a rookie and 3.4 in two games with Cleveland this year. Yet more proof you shouldn't take running backs early in the draft any longer. The Texans are No. 28 against the run.
Colts at Texans NFL Week 9 Betting Odds and Trends
At BookMaker, the Colts are 2.5-point favorites with a total of 44. Indianapolis is 4-3 ATS (2-1 on road) and 3-4 “over/under” (0-3 on road). Houston is 1-6 ATS (0-3 at home) and 4-3 O/U (3-0 at home). The Colts are 8-1 ATS in their past nine against teams with a losing record. They are 5-1 in their past six after a bye week. The Texans are 2-5 ATS in their past seven against teams with a winning record. They are 0-5 ATS in their past five after an ATS win. The under is 6-1 in Indy's past seven when allowing more than 30 points in its previous game. The under is 4-0 in Houston's past four after a bye week. The under is 5-0 in the past five meetings. The home team has covered the past six.
NFL predictions: Colts at Texans Week 9 Betting Picks
Houston and Indy played twice in the span of three weeks at the end of last season, each winning at home. Obviously, Keenum didn't play in either. In Week 15 at Houston, the Texans won 29-17 -- their only win in the final four games -- to clinch the AFC South. Foster had a big game with 27 carries for 165 yards. Schaub wasn't picked off and found Andre Johnson 11 times for 165 yards and a TD. The Colts were held to 272 yards. In Week 17 at Indy, the Colts won 28-16 as Schaub threw two picks. Foster had another good game with 96 yards and a TD. Indy didn't turn the ball over, and Luck had two TD passes. That was also Colts coach Chuck Pagano's return to the sideline after missing months due to cancer treatment.
The Texans MUST win this game for any playoff shot, and I usually love desperate home dogs. However, that running back situation worries me as does Keenum. I'm sure he will be good for a couple of turnovers, so I like Indy. Going by last season's meetings, the score should be 28.5-16.5, so take the over -- barely.
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