NFL Thursday Night Betting Picks: Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
Thursday, October 8, 2015, 8:25 pm Eastern, TV: CBS, NFL Network
NRG Field – Houston, Texas
Opening Line: Houston pick
Current Line: Houston -2 1/2
Opening Total: 45
Current Total: 43 1/2
Opening Money Line: Texans -110 / Colts -110
Current Money Line: Texans -145 / Colts +125

Houston is a 2.5 point favorite over Indianapolis Thursday night.
Houston is a 2.5 point favorite over Indianapolis Thursday night.

The 2-2 Indianapolis Colts travel to the 1-3 Houston Texans Thursday night. Despite starting the season 0-2, the Colts find themselves alone in first place in the AFC South. Houston is tied with the  Jacksonville Jaguars for last, the Tennessee Titans are 1-2 and were on their bye last week.

Indianapolis leads the series 22-4 against Houston, including a five game winning streak. The Colts won both match-ups last year by a combined 12 points.

There was some question over who was going to start at quarterback for the Colts. Starting quarterback Andrew Luck missed last week’s win over the Jaguars with a shoulder injury. There are unconfirmed reports that it is a partial separation but regardless it was the first game Luck missed in his career. He is out Thursday night. Back-up Matt Hasselbeck started against Jacksonville. However, the 40 year old has been battling a virus all week and is probable. The only other quarterback on the roster is former Buccaneers and Vikings QB Josh Johnson. He was just signed last week and hasn’t had time to learn the offense if Hasselbeck can’t go.

Indianapolis is coached by Chuck Pagano. The Colts opened the season with a road loss at the Buffalo Bills 27-14 and at home to the New York Jets 20-7. Indianapolis has two straight narrow wins over division foes. The Colts won at the Titans 35-33 and last week at home against Jacksonville 16-13. After exchanging field goals in the first quarter, Jacksonville took 13-10 lead at halftime. The Colts tied it at early in the fourth. Neither team would score again until Adam Vinatieri kicked the game winning field goal in overtime with just under 5 minutes left. Jacksonville missed field goals at the end of the fourth and in overtime that would have won the game.   The Colts only had 326 total yards and 2 turnovers compared to 431 yards and no turnovers for the Jags. Indianapolis was a 4 point favorite and the total was 43. The Colts are 0-4 ATS and the total is 1-3 this season.

Houston is coached Bill O’Brien. Houston has a home win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 19-9.  The Texans have a home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs 27-20, plus road losses at the Carolina Panthers 24-17 and last week at the Atlanta Falcons 48-21. The Falcons scored the first 42 points of the game, before Houston scored three straight touchdowns in the fourth to pull within 42-21. The Falcons scored on an 84 yard fumble return for a touchdown on the last play of the game to make the final 48-21. Houston actually had more yards than Atlanta but four Texans turnovers doomed them. Atlanta was a 4 point favorite and the total was 47.5. Houston is 1-3 ATS and the total is 2-1-1 this season.

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Indianapolis is being outscored 23-18 this season. The Colts are #26 in scoring. Indianapolis averages 338 yards per game on offense including 250 passing and 88 rushing yards per game. The Colts are #26 in rushing. On defense, the Colts allow 388 yards per game including 268 passing and 120 rushing yards. Indianapolis is #23 or worse in all three categories. The Colts are 27/58 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 21/57. Indianapolis has forced 5 sacks and allowed 8 this season. The Colts are -9 in turnovers this season.

Luck has thrown for 73 yards with 5 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, and also has 14 carries for 65 yards. Hasselbeck threw for 282 yards and a touchdown against Jacksonville. Running back Frank Gore has 54 carries for 227 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 9 catches for 46 yards. He is probable with a foot injury. Josh Robinson will also get some carries.

Receiver T.Y. Hilton has 22 catches for 294 yards. Donte Moncrief has 23 catches for 275 yards and 3 touchdowns. Tight end Coby Fleener has 14 catches for 139 yards and a touchdown. Phillip Dorsett has 7 catches for 120 yards and a touchdown. Andre Johnson will also get some targets. He played with the Texans for many years. Tight end Dwayne Allen is probable with an ankle injury. Eleven defensive players are listed on the injury report.

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Houston is being outscored 27-19 this season. The Texans are #24 in scoring and #26 in points allowed. Houston is averaging 384 total yards including 285 passing and 100 rushing yards. The Texans are in the top 10 in total and passing offense. Houston is allowing 344 yards per game on defense, including 229 passing and 115 rushing yards. The Texans are 25/73 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 18/55. Houston has forced 6 sacks and allowed 8 this season. Houston is -6 in September.

Quarterbacks Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer have split time this season. Hoyer was the starter but was yanked after an ineffective start in the first game against the Chiefs. Mallett replaced him and started the next three games. He was benched in the fourth quarter of the blowout against the Falcons. Hoyer came in and led three garbage time touchdown drives. Still, Mallet will continue to start. He has thrown for 720 yards with 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, along with a rushing touchdown. Hoyer has thrown for 468 yards with 3 touchdowns and an interception.

Running back Alfred Blue has 51 carries for 204 yards and a touchdown, plus 2 catches. Chris Polk has 27 carries for 92 yards and a touchdown, along with 6 catches for 41 yards. He is questionable with a knee injury. Jonathan Grimes has 14 carries for 54 yards, along with 11 catches for 61 yards. Grimes is out with a knee injury. Arian Foster made his season debut last week after missing the first three games with a pulled groin. He was limited with 8 carries for 10 yards, but did make 3 catches for 25 yards. The former All-pro will eventually return to being the feature back.

Receiver DeAndre Hopkins has 31 catches for 409 yards and 3 touchdowns. Receivers Cecil Shorts III has 22 catches for 236 yards and a touchdown. He is out with a shoulder injury. Nate Washington has 13 catches for 210 yards. He is out with a hamstring injury. No other receiver has more than 6 catches so someone will have to step up besides Hopkins. Eleven defensive players are listed on the injury report including notable players Kareem Jckson, Brian Cushing and JeDaveon Clowney.

Indianapolis is 11-1-1 ATS in Thursday games, 7-1 in week five and against teams with winning home records, 17-5-1 against AFC South teams, 9-3 after rushing for 90 yards or less, 14-5-1 after allowing 15 points or less, 22-8-1 after passing for 250 yards or more, 19-7 against teams with losing records, 7-3 in October, 11-5 on grass, 2-5 in road games, 0-4 after failing to cover, 0-5 overall and and against AFC teams. The Colts are 4-0-1 ATS in this series recently. The under is 7-2 in this series recently.

Houston is 5-0 ATS after rushing for 90 yards or less, 4-1-1 after gaining 350 total yards or more, 4-1 after passing for 250 yards or more, 3-1-1 against AFC South teams, 5-2 after a straight up loss, 7-3 after an ATS loss, 1-4 after a straight up loss of 14 points or more and overall, 1-9 in week 5, 0-5 in Thursday games, and 0-4 after allowing more than 350 total yards. The favorite is 3-0-1 ATS in this series recently. The home team is 7-2-1 ATS recently. Eight of the last ten games in this series in Houston have gone over the total.

Both of these teams are dealing with injuries to skill position players and on defense. Still, Houston is even more banged up. I just think even without Luck that Indianapolis is a better team. I like the Colts to win a close low scoring game in a mild upset.

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