NFL Betting Preview Week #15: Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts
Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Indiana
Sunday, December 20, 2015, 1:00 pm Eastern, TV: CBS, NFL Sunday Ticket
Opening Line: Indianapolis -1
Current Line: Indianapolis -2
Opening Total: 42
Current Total: 41 1/2
Opening Money Line: Colts -130 / Texans +110
Current Money Line: Colts -130 / Texans +110

The Colts and Texans meet Sunday for first place in the AFC South. Both teams are 6-7 this season.
The Colts and Texans meet Sunday for first place in the AFC South. Both teams are 6-7 this season.

The Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts are both 6-7 this season and tied for first in the AFC South, The two teams meet Sunday in Indianapolis. A win by the Colts would basically clinch the division as they would have the equivalent of a two game lead with two games to play by virtue of sweeping the season series. The 5-8 Jacksonville Jaguars are still in the mix as well.

Indianapolis leads the series 23-4 against Houston. The Colts have won six games in a row against the Texans including 27-20 in Houston earlier this season. Houston had 444 total yards to 323 for Indianapolis in that contest, but the Texans were unable to overcome two turnovers.

Houston is coached by Bill O’Brien. The Texans have home losses to the Kansas City Chiefs 27-20, Colts 27-20, and New England Patriots 27-6 last week, along with road losses at the Carolina Panthers 24-17, Atlanta Falcons 48-21, Miami Dolphins 44-26 and Buffalo Bills 30-21.  The Texans have lost two straight games after a four game winning streak. Houston has home wins over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 19-9, Tennessee Titans 20-6, New York Jets 24-17, and New Orleans Saints 24-6, along with road wins at the Jaguars 31-20, and Cincinnati Bengals 10-6.

Houston was a 4.5 point underdog against New England and the total was 46. The Patriots had lost two straight games going into last week after a 10-0 start. New England took a 17-6 lead into halftime. New England would add 10 more points in the second half to complete the rout. The Patriots weren’t exactly firing on all cylinders on offense with just 313 total yards, but they held the Texans to just 189 total yards and two field goals. Houston is 6-7 ATS and the total is 7-5-1 this season.

Indianapolis is coached by Chuck Pagano. The Colts have road wins over on the Tennessee Titans 35-33,  Texans 27-20 and Atlanta Falcons 24-21, plus home wins over the Jaguars 16-13, Denver Broncos 24-21 and Tampa Bay Buccaneers 25-12. Indianapolis has  road losses at the Buffalo Bills 27-14, Carolina Panthers 29-26, Pittsburgh Steelers 45-10 and Jaguars 51-16 last week, plus home losses to the New York Jets 20-7, New England Patriots 34-27 and New Orleans Saints 27-21. The Colts have lost two straight games by a combined scored of 96-26.

Indianapolis was a 1 point underdog at Jacksonville and the total was 45.5. The Colts led 13-3 with just under 2 minutes to go in the first half. However, they would be outscored 48-3 for the rest of the game, including a 49 yard fumble return for a touchdown and a 73 yard punt return for a touchdown. The Colts are 6-7 ATS and the total is 7-6 this season.

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Houston is being outscored 22-20 this season. The Texans are #25 in scoring and #13 in points allowed. Houston is averaging 348 total yards including 249 passing and 99 rushing yards. The Texans are allowing 331 yards per game on defense, including 217 passing and 114 rushing yards. Houston is #7 or better in total and passing defense. The Texans are 80/217 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 57/182. Houston has forced 33 sacks and allowed 30 this season. Houston is -1 in turnovers, but has allowed 3 defensive touchdowns.

Quarterbacks Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer split time earlier in the season. However, Mallett was released because of some off the field issues. Hoyer has thrown for 2,357 yards with 18 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. He is out Sunday with a concussion.  Mallett has thrown for 770 yards with 3 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, along with a rushing touchdown. T.J. Yates played in a  couple of games for an injured Hoyer and has thrown for 302 yards with 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. Yates will start Sunday.

Running back Alfred Blue has 127 carries for 444 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus 13 catches for 102 yards and a touchdown. He is probable with a back injury.  Chris Polk has 81 carries for 286 yards and a touchdown, along with 16 catches for 109 yards and a touchdown. He is probable with a knee injury. Jonathan Grimes has 45 carries for 230 yards, along with 22 catches for 145 yards. Grimes is out with a knee injury. Arian Foster is out for the season with a torn Achilles’ tendon. He had 63 carries for 163 yards with a touchdown, along with 22 catches for 227 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Receiver DeAndre Hopkins has 89 catches for 1,221 yards and 10 touchdowns. Nate Washington has 40 catches for 592 yards and 3 touchdowns. Receivers Cecil Shorts III has 42 catches for 484 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also has 47 rushing yards and threw a touchdown pass. Tight end Ryan Griffin has 14 catches for 181 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is probable with an ankle injury. C.J. Fiedorwicz and Keith Mumphrey each ahve 14 catches as well.  Eleven defensive players are listed on the injury report including notable players J.J. Watt, Kareem Jackson, Brian Cushing and JeDaveon Clowney. All four are probable though. Four offensive linemen are listed on the injury report.

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Indianapolis is being outscored 27-21 this season. The Colts are #29 in points allowed and #21 in scoring. Indianapolis averages 335 yards per game on offense including 246 passing and 89 rushing yards per game. The Colts are #26 in rushing and #28 in total offense. On defense, the Colts allow 398 yards per game including 276 passing and 121 rushing yards. Indianapolis is #25 or worse in all three categories. The Colts are 84/206 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 81/192. Indianapolis has forced 22 sacks and allowed 31 this season. The Colts are -6 in turnovers this season, but the Colts have scored four defensive touchdowns, and have allowed a special teams and 3 defensive touchdowns.

Andrew Luck has thrown for 1,881 yards with 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, and also has 33 carries for 192 yards. He is out with a kidney laceration, and has also battled shoulder and rib injuries. Forty year old Matt Hasselbeck is the back-up and has started seven games.  Hasselbeck has thrown for 1,444 yards with 8 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He is probable with a neck and ribs injuries. Charlie Whitehurst is the back-up, and has 59 passing yards with an interception.

Running back Frank Gore has 210 carries for 762 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 31 catches for 242 yards and a touchdown. Josh Robinson could also get some carries. Ahmad Bradshaw is out for the season with a broken wrist. Another running back Tyler Varga is on injured reserve with a concussion.

Receiver T.Y. Hilton has 58 catches for 987 yards and 5 touchdowns. Donte Moncrief has 56 catches for 669 yards and 5 touchdowns. He is questionable with a foot injury. Tight end Coby Fleener has 44 catches for 378 yards and 2 touchdowns. Andre Johnson has 31 catches for 386 yards and 3 touchdowns. Phillip Dorsett has 11 catches for 167 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Dwayne Allen and receiver Griff Whalen will also get some targets. Twelve defensive players and four offensive linemen are listed on the injury report.

Houston is 5-0 ATS after scoring less than 15 points, 4-0 after rushing for 90 yards or less, 5-2-1 against AFC South teams, 7-3 after a double digit home loss, 1-3-1 in December, 1-3-2 after passing for less than 150 yards, 1-4-1 in week 15, and 2-9-1 on fieldturf. The under is 7-3 in this series recently, including 6-0 in Indianapolis. The road team is 3-1-1 ATS in this series recently.

Indianapolis is 4-1-1 ATS in week 15, 4-1 on fieldturf, 20-6 agaisnt teams with losing records, 20-7 after a straight up loss, 24-9-1 at home, 8-3 against teams with losing road records, 18-7-1 after failing to cover and against AFC South teams, 5-2 after allowing more than 150 rushing yards, 3-7 against AFC teams, 1-4 after allowing more than 350 total yards, 1-4-1 in December, and 0-4 after allowing more than 30 points. The favorite is 3-1-1 ATS in this series recently. The Colts are 5-0-1 ATS against the Texans overall and 4-0-1 ATS in Indianapolis in the series.

With the NFC East and the AFC South being really terrible this year, there is the real possibility that two teams with losing records will qualify for the playoffs. Even worse an eleven win AFC team could miss the playoffs because a team from the AFC South will get in. Make no mistake, both Houston and Indianapolis are terrible teams that are ravaged by injuries. Both teams will be starting back-up quarterbacks. Houston is playing slightly better right now but both teams have lost two straight games. I think Houston wins a close high scoring game.

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