NFL Picks: Betting Value Found on Colts +1 vs. Texans, Even if Luck Doesn't Play on Thursday Night

Jason Lake

Wednesday, October 7, 2015 6:02 PM UTC

Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015 6:02 PM UTC

The NFL odds are finally available for Thursday's Colts-Texans matchup, and it's a pick 'em. As poorly as the Colts may have played, Houston's been even worse this year.

Jason's 2015 record as of Oct. 7: 16-9 ATS; 0-1 ML (-1.00 units); 10-13 Total

The wait is over. The first NFL odds for Thursday night's game (8:25 p.m. ET, CBS/NFLN) between the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans are finally here, and we've been rewarded for our patience: It's a pick 'em. Or at least it was at the open. As we go to press, many of the sportsbooks on our odds board have made Houston a 1-point home dog, with our consensus reports showing 58 percent of early bettors on Indianapolis. Other locations have the Colts +1.

Why would anyone bet on the Colts (2-2 SU, 0-4 ATS)? It might not look like a good idea in general, but we're talking about the Houston Texans (1-3 SU and ATS) here. There's a considerable gap in the performance level between these two teams. We're not going to recommend a large bet here by any means, but we're happy enough to put Indianapolis in our NFL picks for Week 5.

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Let My Johnson GoC
Let's start with the man of the moment, Colts QB Andrew Luck. He was limited during Tuesday's practice by the sore shoulder that caused Luck to miss last week's 16-13 overtime win against the Jacksonville Jaguars (+4 away). But both player and team believe Luck will suit up against the Texans. They even released QB Josh Johnson after signing him as an emergency back-up plan.

And then the Colts re-signed Johnson on Wednesday. Good gravy. Are we in for a repeat of last week's shenanigans, when Indy moved from –9.5 to –4 after Luck was scratched in favor of Matt Hasselbeck? Possibly. The sharps were all over the Jags before the line moved; maybe taking the Texans at +1 is worth the gamble after all.


Texas Toast
We're not convinced. Football Outsiders has Houston ranked No. 30 overall (No. 29 offense, No. 26 defense, No. 32 special teams) through Week 4. Compare and contrast to Indianapolis at No. 21 overall (No. 24 offense, No. 19 defense, No. 17 special teams). That doesn't look like a pick 'em on paper, even with the game in Houston.

Let's check in with Pro-Football Reference for a second opinion. On their Simple Rating System, the Colts are –4.9 SRS, and the Texans are –9.0 SRS. That's about four points difference on neutral ground, so Houston “should” be about +1.5 at home. All these numbers have to be treated carefully, of course, especially with QB Ryan Mallett starting three games for the Texans.

We'll stick with the Indianapolis Colts, thank you kindly. Whoever's under center for Indianapolis, the trick will be keeping him upright and mobile for the whole game. Poor offensive line play is one of this year's running themes across the league, and the Colts had some serious issues up front during the first two games. Things improved in Week 3 after the line was shuffled, but run blocking was a big problem against Jacksonville. Better make that a very small bet on Indy this week.

NFL Picks: Take the Colts +1 at YouWager

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