NFL Week 17 Picks: Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts
Sunday, December 30, 2012, 1:00 pm Eastern, TV: CBS, NFL Sunday Ticket
Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Indiana
Opening Line: Houston -5 1/2
Current Line: Houston -7
Opening Total: 47
Current Total: 46 1/2
Opening Money Line: Texans -300 / Colts +250
Current Money Line: Texans -305 / Colts +255

The Houston Texans can clinch homefield advantage in the AFC playoffs with a win Sunday over AFC South rival Indianapolis.

Both the 12-3 Houston Texans and 10-5 Indianapolis Colts have already clinched playoff spots. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot at stake for both teams. Houston, coached by Gary Kubiak, has already clinched the AFC South Division, but will clinch the #1 seed in the AFC with a win. A loss could drop the Texans as far as the #3 seed depending on what the Denver Broncos (vs KC) and New England Patriots (vs MIA) do. Only the top 2 seeds get first round byes in the playoffs. Houston also has never won in Indianapolis in their history.

Although the Indianapolis Colts are locked into the #5 seed and will most likely have to travel to Baltimore to take on the Ravens in the wild card playoffs next week, emotions will be sky high for the Colts. Not just because Houston and Indianapolis are developing quite the rivalry, but because coach Chuck Pagano will return to the sidelines for the first time since being diagnosed with leukemia in early October.

Indianapolis has dominated the series against Houston since the Texans came into the league in 2002. The Colts are 17-4 against the Texans. Three of Houston’s wins in the series have come in the last 3 seasons at home, including 29-17 two weeks ago in Houston. That win clinched the AFC South title for Houston.

Houston is coming off a disappointing home loss to the Minnesota Vikings last week 23-6. The Texans were held without a touchdown, and lost despite holding running back Adrian Peterson to 86 yards. The Texans could have wrapped up home field advantage with a win last week, an now have put themselves in a position where they have to beat the Colts on the road. Houston is 9-6 ATS and the total is 7-8 this season.

The loss to Houston is the only loss in the last 5 games for Indianapolis. The Colts won at 2-13 Kansas City last week 20-13 to clinch a playoff spot. This is a year after they won 2 games and had the worst record in the league. The Colts are 10-5 ATS and the total is 6-9 this season.

Houston is averaging 373.5 yards per game on offense, including 238.7 passing yards and 134.8 rushing yards. The Texans are outscoring teams 27-20 this season. Houston is in the top 15 in all offensive categories, including #6 in scoring. The Texans are +14 in turnovers. Houston has forced 43 sacks and allowed 24 this season. The Texans are 82/217 on third and fourth down conversions. On defense, Houston is allowing 327.1 yards per game, including 228.3 passing and 98.8 rushing yards. The Texans are in the top 9 in total defense, against the rush, and in points allowed.  Houston has 5 defensive/special teams touchdowns this season.

Houston quarterback Matt Schaub has completed 64.2% of his passes for 3,733 yards with 22 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He has been sacked 23 times this season. Running back Arian Foster has 335 carries, 1,328 yards with 14 touchdowns, along with 38 catches, 194 yards and 2 touchdowns. Foster left the Minnesota game last week with an irregular heart beat and was taken to the hospital. He is listed as probable. Justin Forsett and Ben Tate will also get some carries. Both Forsett (knee) and Tate (hamstring) are also listed as probable. Schaub has 19 carries, but no other running back has more than 4 carries if the top 3 running backs can’t go.

Receiver Andre Johnson has 100 carries, 1,457 yards and 4 touchdowns. Tight end Owen Daniels has 59 catches, 689 yards and 6 touchdowns. He is probable with a hamstring injury. Kevin Walter has 38 catches, 467 yards and 2 touchdowns. James Casey has 32 catches, 319 yards and 3 touchdowns. Tight end Garrett Graham has 27 catches, 257 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Texans have 27 players listed on the injury report including 15 defensive players and 4 offensive linemen. Most of those players are listed as probable though.

Indianapolis is averaging 368.9 yards per game on offense, including 262.9 passing yards and 106 rushing yards. The Colts are in the top 10 in total offense and passing. Indianapolis is being outscored 25-22 this season. The Colts are -14 in turnovers. Indianapolis has forced 28 sacks and allowed 40 this season. The Colts are 96/222 on third and fourth down conversions. On defense, Indianapolis is allowing 375.7 yards per game including 235.9 passing yards and 139.9 rushing yards The Colts are 19th or worse in all defensive categories including the #30 run defense. Indianapolis has 5 defensive or special teams touchdowns this season.

Rookie quarterback Andrew Luck has completed 54.3% of his passes for 4,183 yards with 21 touchdowns and 18 interceptions, along with 57 carries, 254 yards and 5 touchdowns. Luck has been sacked 40 times this season. He is probable with a knee injury. Luck broke Cam Newton’s rookie record for passing yards in a season. Many thought Luck should have been the third AFC quarterback for the Pro Bowl behind Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Schaub was chosen instead.

Running back Vick Ballard has 184 carries, 736 yards and a touchdown, along with 15 catches, 143 yards and a touchdown. Three of his primary back-ups are out for the season, in Donald Brown, Delone Carter and Robert Hughes are out for the season. Look for Mewelde Moore to get more carries. He has 13 carries for 20 yards along with a receiving touchdown.

Receiver Reggie Wayne has 102 catches, 1,315 yards with 5 touchdowns. Donnie Avery has 60 catches, 781 yards and 3 touchdowns. He is questionable with a shoulder injury.  T.Y. Hilton has 46 catches, 760 yards with 6 touchdowns, along with a punt return for a touchdown. Tight end Dwayne Allen has 43 catches, 500 yards and 3 touchdowns. Coby Fleener has 25 catches, 280 yards and a touchdown. Like Houston, the Colts have 27 players on the injury report including 16 defensive players and 4 offensive linemen.

Houston is 3-0-1 ATS after a straight up loss, 4-0-2 in Week 17, 6-1 in road games against teams with winning home records, 8-2-1 against teams with winning records, 8-2-2 against AFC South teams, 18-6-2 against AFC teams, 11-4 after scoring less than 15 points, 5-2 after a double digit home loss, 9-4 in road games, 17-8-2 overall, 2-5 after allowing more than 150 rushing yards, and 1-4 on fieldturf. The last 4 games in this series have gone under the total.

Indianapolis is 5-0 ATS at home, 9-1 in December, 5-1 on fieldturf, 4-1 after allowing more than 350 yards, 8-2 overall, 4-1-1 after allowing less than 15 points, 7-2 against AFC teams, 18-7-2 against teams with winning records, 5-2 after a straight up win and a cover, 4-11 after allowing more than 150 rushing yards and 3-14 in week 17. The home team has covered the last 5 in this series.

While Indianapolis would love to win their last game of the season and Pagano’s first game back, they don’t have to win like Houston does. Emotions will certainly be at a fever pitch for the Colts, but they have the luxury of resting their starters if they want. Houston has to win if they don’t want to go to Denver or New England in January. Also Houston wants to get the monkey off their back of never having won in Indianapolis. The Colts hang around for a while but Houston wins in the end.

Our expert NFL picks are available now. Our handicappers are red hot as the playoffs approach.






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Posted by on Dec 29 2012. Filed under Headlines, NFL. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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