Bet 1.4 Units on Texans ATS vs. Colts for Thursday Night Picks

Jason Lake

Wednesday, October 8, 2014 8:18 PM UTC

Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014 8:18 PM UTC

Finally, we’ve got a close game to watch on Thursday Night Football. The Houston Texans are small home dogs on the Week 6 NFL odds board, and the Indianapolis Colts might be too beaten up to cash in.

Jason’s record after Week 5: 19-16 ATS, 5-7-1 Totals

Profit: plus-0.1 units

One of the joys of betting on football is it can make any game worth watching. All five of this year’s Thursday Night Football games have been decided by at least 20 points, and the past three have been epic blowouts, but they were beautiful blowouts to witness – if you had the favorites among your NFL picks.

Still, if you’re a “true” football fan, you want to see a competitive game. We’ve got a good one brewing for this week’s very special episode of Thursday Night Football (8:25 p.m. ET, CBS): It’s the Indianapolis Colts visiting the Houston Texans in a battle between the top two teams in the AFC South. Each team is 3-2 SU and 4-1 ATS after five weeks, but it’s the Colts who are favored by 2.5 points as we go to press. Hardly seems fair.


There Is No Is
You’re probably thinking, “Well, the Colts are better than the Texans.” Unless you speak E-Prime, in which case the voice in your head says, “Well, the Colts have played better football than the Texans this year.” Now there’s something we can validate: according to the Week 6 DVOA charts at Football Outsiders, Indianapolis ranks No. 17 in overall efficiency (No. 13 offense, No. 20 defense, No. 7 special teams), well ahead of Houston at No. 24 overall (No. 26 offense, No. 15 defense, No. 24 special teams).

That seems a bit harsh. Pro Football Reference is much more forgiving, with the Colts ranked fifth overall at plus-8.4 SRS (plus-7.3 offense, plus-1.1 defense) and the Texans No. 13 overall at plus-3.4 SRS (minus-1.8 offense, plus-5.2 defense). Probably too forgiving. Either way you look at it, though, the performance gap is about the same. And the five-point difference in SRS is in line with Houston getting 2.5 points at home on the NFL odds board.

We’re comfortable with that. Even though advanced football statistics are always at the whim of small sample sizes, five games does give us enough data to do some business with. We expect even more cohesion between the number crunchers and the football betting lines as the season wears on. Markets get more efficient over time. Until they fail, of course. Point being, these NFL lines are getting tighter and tighter, and the oddsmakers look like they’ve nailed this one.


They Don’t Know Jack
So is there no profit margin to be had on this game? Let’s not jump to conclusions; our handicapping is based primarily on exploiting the NFL betting public, not the books. It’s always nice to get a bargain when you’re shopping for lines, too, but that’s usually something we do after we’ve decided what we want to buy.

And in this case, we want to buy the Texans. They’re a regional team with a smaller public following than the Colts, and they’re much less flashier on offense with Ryan Fitzpatrick (plus-46 Total DYAR) at quarterback – although he does have an epic beard. Andrew Luck (plus-446 DYAR) beats him in just about every other category.

It’s the people in front of Luck we should be worried about. They’ve done an excellent job in pass protection this year, allowing just six sacks, but LG Jack Mewhort is week-to-week with an ankle injury, and RG Hugh Thornton hurt his back last week against the Baltimore Ravens. The Colts might have to put A.Q. Shipley back in the starting lineup, or maybe Joe Reitz. It’s problematic enough to make the Texans worth a look this Thursday.


The Five Stars
Injuries/Suspensions/Travel/Rest: HOU
Defense/Special Teams: HOU
Coaching: IND
Market Bias: HOU
Betting Line Value: IND

Betting Verdict: 1-star pick on HOU

Free NFL Pick: Bet 1.4 units on the Texans +3 (+100) at Sports Interaction

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