Colts vs. Texans NFL Picks: Side With Indianapolis on the ML Even if Luck is Not 100% Healthy

Kevin Stott

Wednesday, October 7, 2015 12:10 AM UTC

Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015 12:10 AM UTC

Colts QB Andrew Luck said that he is expecting to play on Thursday night against the Texans in the big Week 5 AFC South showdown for both teams. Who should we back with our NFL picks?

Point Spreads for this game have been slow to come out, but when they do on Wednesday or Thursday, what are the best things to know heading into this huge divisional game? Let’s preview this primetime Week 5 game with all the key information, Odds, Trends and significant Injuries and make a decent NFL pick or two from what we think could happen in Houston.


Odds Overview
Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans No Line [Friday 01:25] (CBS, NFL Network, Directv 212, 8:25 p.m. EDT/5:25 p.m. PDT): The Indianapolis Colts (2-2 SU, 0-4 ATS) head south to NRG Stadium in Houston on Thursday night to face the Texans (1-3 SU, 1-3 ATS) in this big Week 5 AFC South showdown from the Lone Star State and huge game for both sides, but probably more so the host Texans who would fall to 1-4 with a Loss. There is still no Point Spread posted (Tuesday afternoon) for this affair everywhere with sportsbooks waiting to hear on the status of Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck (Shoulder), but the Advanced Line (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) out last week had the Colts (6-0 vs. AFC South in 2014) installed as miniscule 1-point favorites here.

With Luck taking the majority of snaps in practice today (Tuesday) and saying that he expects to play here, the line as well as the Total, Money Line and Team Totals for this game to be posted extremely soon and have the Colts in the 2- to 3½-point favorite range. Noteworthy: The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook opened Indianapolis as 2-point favorites in this game in their renowned NFL Games of the Year (released mid-Summer).


Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts (70 PF-84 PA) are holding up the Betting Board again with the health of QB Andrew Luck and his bad Right Shoulder being the big variable for Sportsbooks, Oddsmakers and Sports Bettors alike. On Tuesday, Luck reportedly said he expected to play here on Thursday and he took the majority of snaps in Colts practice. This is a huge game, so expect him to start. Besides Luck (Shoulder), Indianapolis also has its share of Injury concerns with LB Jerrell Freeman (Groin) leaving Sunday’s OT win over Jacksonville and listed as Questionable on Tuesday, along with Colts teammates CB Jalil Brown (Neck), S Mike Adams and RB Tyler Varga (Concussion) (Neck). CB Vontae Davis (Foot), backup QB Matt Hasselbeck (Illness), CB Greg Toler (Neck), RB Frank Gore (Foot) and TE Dwayne Allen (ankle) are all listed as Probable, so you can expect them to all play here in Houston on Thursday night. So, will this be the triumphant return of new Colts WR Andre Johnson to Houston?

In their last game, Indianapolis staved off the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday at Home at Lucas Oil Stadium, 16-13 as veteran K Adam Vinatieri knocked home the game-winner in OT. Although not dominant by any stretch of the imagination, Hasselbeck (30/47, 282 yards, TD) was good enough at managing the game and finding to help his Colts (20/1 to win Super Bowl, Stan James) get the win, using TE Coby Fleener (9 receptions, 83 yards, TD) and RB Frank Gore (17 rushes, 53 yards) in crunch time vs. the Jaguars.


Houston Texans
The Houston Texans (77 PF-108 PA) and Head Coach Bill O’Brien (10-9-1 ATS) seem to still be auditioning for a starting QB as we head on into Week 5, with Ryan Mallett (12/27, 150 yards, 5.6 ypp, 0 TDs, Interceptions vs Bengals) and Brian Hoyer (17/30, 232 yards, 7.7 ypp, 2 TDs, 0 Interceptions vs. Bengals) both getting plenty of playing time in last week’s 48-21 loss to the upstart Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on Sunday in Week 4 action. And one thing seems obvious: For the Texans to start doing anything consistently on Offense, they need to probably stick with Hoyer at QB for the time being and use Mallett in reserve and pass, pass, pass the pigskin. Why? Houston’s Rushing attack looks very weak so far this season.

Against the Bengals, RB Arian Foster rushed for 10 yards on 8 carries while Alfred Blue (6 rushes, 17 yards) and Chris Polk (3 rushes, 27 yards) were equally ineffective 0r underused. Receivers DeAndre Hopkins (9 receptions, 157 yards, 17.4 ypc), Cecil Shorts III (6 receptions, 87 yards, TD), Keith Mumphrey (4 receptions, 56 yards) and CJ Fiedorowicz (3 receptions, 28 yards) provide plenty of decent targets for whomever Houston (250/1 to win Super Bowl, William Hill) has taking snaps from Center, but sticking with one guy is the best route and it seems this back-and-forth between Mallett and Hoyer has been going on since Hoyer came over from the Browns and last year’s starter, journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick headed to the New York Jets. For a guy with reputation of knowing Quarterbacks, O’Brien is looking a bit lost.

On the Injury front, Texans WR Nate Washington (Hamstring) sat out Houston’s big loss at the Atlanta Falcons and is listed as Questionable for this game as are a mind-boggling 7 other teammates: LB Akeem Dent (Hamstring), LB Whitney Mercilus (Thigh) S Lonnie Ballentine (Knee), RB Jonathan Grimes (Knee), S Quintin Demps (Hamstring) and WR Cecil Shorts III (Shoulder). Houston also has 7 other players on the Injured-Reserve List, including LB Mike Mohamed (Foot) and LB Carlos Thompson (Wrist), and 7 listed as Probable: RB Arian Foster (Groin), RB Chris Polk (Knee), LB Jadeveon Clowney (Knee), LB Brian Cushing (Foot), T Duane Brown (Foot), S Eddie Pleasant (Thigh) and CB Jonathan Joseph (Hip). So, 7, 7 and 7 means a bunch of guys either hurt or unavailable for Houston and a slight advantage Roster-wise to the Colts who are just hoping their precious QB (Luck) doesn’t get hurt any more. Expect Texans DL J.J. Watt to try to bring the heat early to strike Fear into the heart of the young Indianapolis signal caller and try to rough up that bad throwing shoulder.


Series Numbers, Recent Relevant Trends and Game Expectations
Last season, the Colts won 33-28 in Houston in the first meeting, covering as 2½-point favorites here at NRG Stadium and Indianapolis also won but pushed the Point Spread (-7 NFL odds) at Home in Naptown at Lucas Oil Stadium, 17-10. The Colts are an impressive 5-1-1 ATS the L7 vs. the Texans, but those numbers were forged with healthy a Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning at QB. On Thursdays and Thursday Night Football, Indianapolis is an impressive 11-1- ATS the L13 and 7-1 ATS the L8 on the Road. The Colts are also 7-1 ATS L8 in Week 5 and the Under is 9-2 the L11 Colts games overall. Houston is just 1-4 SU and 1-4 on Thursdays (1-1 ATS at Home) and the Texans are also 1-9 ATS their L10, while the Over is 8-2 ATS the L10 in H-Town, and the Home team is 7-2-1 ATS the L10 in this AFC South series.

Plus, there’s also that propensity for Thursday night Overs. The Weather Channel forecast for Houston on Thursday evening calls for Partly Cloudy conditions, 10% chance of Precipitation, a High of 90° and a Low of 71°—so with the game at night expect low 80s fading to 70s—Relative Humidity of 59% and gusty ESE Winds of 5-10 mph. NRG Stadium (Grass) also has a Retractable Roof if need be, but with this forecast, it seems like perfect Fall Houston, Texas football weather.

But is there a logical approach to finding an edge in a game with huge questions at QB for both teams between two desperate rivals in a game which neither can really afford to lose? The Trends and the recent, relevant history both scream Colts here, but this seems like the perfect spot for the 1-3 Texans to catch the Colts with an injured Luck, in Houston and to swiftly knot things up in the AFC South with 2-3 records with a Houston ‘W’. It seems with the many weapons both have at WR and TE, the football may be in the air much. But maybe Mallett and Hoyer were chucking the ball so much last Sunday because the Texans were so far behind the Bengals that they had to pass, pass, pass? The outcome here may depend on the health, flexibility and durability of the Colts’ star QB Luck, so decreasing the bet amount or laying off seem prudent options.

This is a tough handicap and probably would be even if Luck were 100%. With Houston so desperate, it seems they have to get the win but they have an Injury List (Demps, Washington, Shorts) longer than any team in the NFL and have been so damn poor in the First Half—the Texans have been outscored 74-19 so far—backing the better team with the better and healthier Roster on the Road seems the safest call, even if Luck ends up being around 65% or his backup Hasselbeck has to play.

Predicted Final Score: Indianapolis Colts 24 Houston Texans 20

NFL Picks: Indianapolis Colts First Half, Indianapolis Colts +105 at 5Dimes

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