NFL AFC South Betting Picks Week 15: Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts
Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Indiana

Sunday, December 15, 2013, 1:00 pm Eastern, TV: CBS, NFL Sunday Ticket
Opening Line: Indianapolis -6 1/2 (-105) 
Current Line: Indianapolis -5 1/2
Opening Total: 45 1/2
Current Total: 45 1/2
Opening Money Line: Colts -270 / Texans +230
Current Money Line: Colts -240 / Texans +200

The Colts are 5.5 point favorites at home against the Texans Sunday.
The Colts are 5.5 point favorites at home against the Texans Sunday.

When the schedule first came out last April many experts thought this game would help decide the AFC South title. It didn’t quite work out that way as the 8-5 Indianapolis Colts became the first team to clinch a division title last week, despite losing to the Cincinnati Bengals 42-28. Indianapolis would currently be the #4 seed in the AFC playoffs and host the Kansas City Chiefs in the wild card round. Meanwhile the 2-11 Houston Texans have lost eleven straight games and have the worst record in the league.

Since the Texans came into the league in 2002, the Colts lead the series against the Texans 19-4. Indianapolis won in Houston November 3, 27-24. The Texans led that game 21-3 at halftime, but the Colts mounted a huge comeback. That game was memorable because Houston coach Gary Kubiak was rushed to the hospital with a warning stroke. Kubiak would return to the sideline 2 weeks later against the Oakland Raiders. Kubiak was fired earlier this week after the Texans lost to the Jaguars last week 27-20.

Kubiak was replaced by interim coach Wade Phillips who was the team’s defensive coordinator. Phillips was also the interim coach when Kubiak was away from the  team recovering. The Texans have a win at the San Diego Chargers 31-28 and at home to the Tennessee Titans 30-24 in overtime. Houston has road losses at the Baltimore Ravens 30-9, San Francisco 49ers 34-3, Kansas City Chiefs 17-16, Arizona Cardinals 27-24, and last Thursday night against the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-20 along with home losses to the Seattle Seahawks 23-20 in overtime, St. Louis Rams 38-13, Indianapolis Colts 27-24, Oakland Raiders 28-23, Jaguars 13-6, and the New England Patriots 34-31. The Texans are 3-10 ATS and the total is 9-4 this season. Houston was a 3 point favorite against Jacksonville and the total was 43.5.

Jacksonville took a 17-7 lead against Houston at halftime last week. The Texans would pull to within 24-17 by the end of the third. Houston kicked a field goal early in the fourth to make it 24-20. After a Jacksonville punt, Houston drove from their own 20 to the Jaguar 12. Instead of kicking the field goal, Houston went for it on fourth down and the pass was incomplete. Houston would get one more chance from their own 22 with 2:21 left but they threw an interception. The Jaguars kicked a field goal to make it 27-20, with 25 seconds left. The game ended with a Jacksonville sack of quarterback Matt Schaub. Houston had 406 total yards including 323 passing yards. Jacksonville had 281 yards including 149 rushing yards. The Texans had 14 penalties for 177 yards and 2 turnovers. Jacksonville had 8 penalties for 57 yards.

Houston is being outscored 27-19 this season. The Texans are #29 in scoring and #27 in points allowed. Houston is averaging 368.4 yards per game including 254.2 passing and 114.2 rushing yards. The Texans are #16 or better in all three categories. On defense, Houston is allowing 302.2 yards per game including 183.6 passing and 118.5 rushing yards. The Texans are #3 in total offense and #2 against the pass. Houston is -14 in turnovers. The Texans are 74/206 on third and fourth down conversions, and opponents are 67/183. Houston has forced 29 sacks and allowed 34 sacks. The Texans have two defensive/special teams touchdowns, and have given up nine including 7 defensive touchdowns.   Houston averages 70 penalty yards per game and opponents average 49.

Houston is one of seven teams to use at least three quarterbacks this season. Not surprisingly the only one of those teams, the Philadelphia Eagles, are above .500. Matt Schaub began the season as the starter, but was benched in favor of T.J. Yates. Yates didn’t do much either and was replaced by local college legend Case Keenum who attended the University of Houston. Keenum has started the last seven games. Keenum has completed 54.3% of his passes for 1,592 yards with 9 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, plus he has 13 carries for 70 yards and a touchdown. He has been sacked 15 times this season. Schaub completed 62.4%  of his passes for 1,905 yards with 9 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Schaub has been sacked 17 times this season. He replaces Keenum last week at Jacksonville in the second half, but Keenum will continue to start. Yates threw for 113 yards  with 2 interceptions.

Running back Ben Tate has 165 carries for 699 yards and 4 touchdowns along with 31 catches for 120 yards. Arian Foster is out for the season with a back injury. He had 121 carries for 542 yards and a touchdown, along with 22 catches for 183 yards and a touchdown. Dennis Johnson also gets some carries, and has a rushing touchdown.

Receiver Andre Johnson has 95 catches for 1,277 yards with 5 touchdowns. DeAndre Hopkins has 444 catches, 807 yards and 2 touchdowns. Tight end Garrett Graham has 49 catches for 545 yards and 5 touchdowns. He is questionable with a hamstring injury. Tight end Owen Daniels is out indefefinitely with a leg injury. He has 24 catches, 252 yards and 3 touchdowns. Keyshawn Martin has 16 catches, 203 yards and a touchdown. Five defensive players and four offensive linemen are questionable or out.

Indianapolis is coached by Chuck Pagano. The Colts have home losses to the Miami Dolphina 24-20 and St. Louis Rams 38-8, along with road losses at the San Diego Chargers 19-9, Arizona Cardinals 40-11, and last week at the Cincinnati Bengals 42-28. Indianapolis has home wins over the Oakland Raiders 21-17, Seattle Seahawks 34-28, Denver Broncos 39-33, and Tennessee Titans 22-14, along with road wins over the San Francisco 49ers 27-7, Jaguars 37-3, Texans, and Titans 30-27. The Colts have alternated wins and losses over the last seven games. Indianapolis is 7-6 ATS and the total is 8-5 this season. The Colts were 7 point underdogs at the Bengals last week and the total was 43.

Indianapolis and Cincinnati was a battle of division leaders and the winner would get a leg up for the #3 seed in the AFC playoffs. The Bengals took a 14-0 lead at halftime in a snow storm. Cincinnati expanded the lead to 21-0 early in the third quarter. The Colts scored two straight touchdowns to get back into the game 21-14. The Bengals scored another touchdown before the end of the quarter to make it 28-14. Each team scored two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter to make the final 42-28. Indianapolis had 389 total yards including 326 passing yards. Cincinnati had 430 total yards, including 155 rushing yards. Neither team had a turnover but they combined for 13 penalties for 107 yards.

The Colts are being outscored 24.3-24.1 this season. Indianapolis is #15 in scoring and #16 in points allowed this season. The Colts average 337.8 total yards including 231.9 passing and 105.8 rushing yards. Indianapolis is 18th or worse in all three categories. On defense, the Colts are allowing 372.1 yards per game, including 241.5 passing and 130.6 rushing yards. Indianapolis is #24 in total defense and #29 against the rush. The Colts are +6 in turnovers. Indianapolis is 61/171 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 76/185. Indianapolis has forced 30 sacks and allowed 29. The Colts have two defensive/special teams touchdowns and have allowed 3 this season. Indianapolis averages 38 penalty yards per game and opponents average 59.

Quarterback Andrew Luck has completed 58.6% of his passes for 3,119 yards with 19 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, along with 50 carries for 336 yards and 4 touchdowns. He has been sacked 29 times this season. Back-up Matt Hasselbeck has taken 8 snaps this season and has thrown for 105 yards and an interception.

Running back Donald Brown has 75 carries, 389 yards and 4 carries, along with 22 catches for 179 yards and a touchdown. Trent Richardson was acquired from the Cleveland Browns earlier in the season, but he hasn’t lived up to being worth the first round draft pick the Colts gave up for him. Richardson has 114 carries for 326 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 19 catches for 195 yards. Running backs Chris Rainey, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Vick Ballard are all out for the season with injuries.

Receiver T.Y. Hilton has 58 catches for 798 yards and 5 touchdowns. Tight end Coby Fleener has 49 catches for 575 yards and 4 touchdowns. The offense hasn’t been nearly as effective since future Hall of Fame receiver Reggie Wayne tore his ACL earlier in the season. He had 38 catches for 503 yards and 2 touchdowns in just seven games. Darrius Heyward-Bey has 29 catches for 309 yards and a touchdown. LaVon Brazill has 11 catches for 150 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is questionable with a foot injury.  Stanley Havili has 15 catches for 109 yards and a touchdown. Da’Rick Rogers has 6 catches for 107 yards and 2 touchdowns. Six defensive players and four offensive linemen are listed as questionable or out.

Houston is 3-7 ATS after a straight up loss, 2-7 after passing for 250 yards or more, and in road games, 3-11 overall, 2-8 against AFC teams, 1-5 after gaining more than 350 total yards, 1-6 after allowing less than 150 passing yards, 0-5 in AFC South games, and 0-6 on fieldturf. Five of the last six games in this series have gone under the total, and the under is 4-0 in the last four in Indianapolis between the teams.

Indianapolis is 8-0 ATS after allowing 30 points or more, 5-0 against AFC South teams, 4-0 after failing to cover, 12-1 after a straight up loss, 8-1 after passing for 250 yards or more, 11-2 against teams with losing records, 4-1 against teams with losing road records, and against AFC teams, 16-5 in December, 12-4 at home, 6-2 after rushing for 90 yards or less, 10-4 after allowing 250 passing yards or more, and 0-4 after allowing more than 150 rushing yards. The home team has covered six of the last seven in this series. The Colts are 5-2 ATS in the last seven in Indianapolis against the Texans.

Although Houston has lost eleven straight games, the last seven games in the losing streak have been by 7 points or less. Indianapolis has been inconsistent to say the least. This is a game they must win against  the worst team in the league. The Colts win but the Texans keep it closer than the 5.5 point spread.

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