NFL Picks: Colts & Texans Will Go 'Under' 45 Despite Their Recent Poor Defensive Display

Jason Lake

Wednesday, October 7, 2015 5:33 PM GMT

Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015 5:33 PM GMT

What matters more to Thursday's total: bad offense, or bad defense? That's the big question for our NFL picks when the Houston Texans host the Indianapolis Colts.

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

Sweet Georgia Brown, what is going on with the Indianapolis Colts? The more I look at Thursday's matchup (8:25 p.m. ET, CBS/NFLN), the more I'm convinced Andrew Luck isn't going to play against the Houston Texans. The Colts have been sheltering Luck as if he were hiding out in a church. The rumor mill is churning over the condition of Luck's right shoulder – some people say he's suffered a partial subluxation, but the team says that's nonsense.

Just to yank our chains some more, Indianapolis released back-up QB Josh Johnson after last week's 16-13 overtime win against the Jacksonville Jaguars (+4 away). Then they re-signed Johnson on Wednesday. Uh-oh. The “official” reason is that No. 2 QB Matt Hasselbeck has fallen ill; both he and Andrew Luck are listed as questionable for Thursday night. So what are we supposed to do with that 44.5-point total on our NFL odds board?

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Frank-N-Furtive
Based on the way the Colts (UNDER 3-1) are playing, we should take the UNDER regardless of who's under center. We convinced ourselves otherwise in Week 2 against the New York Jets, and again in Week 4 against the Jaguars. Wrong. Our faith in Indy's re-tooled offensive line was misplaced; RB Frank Gore is back in the doghouse after rushing for just 53 yards on 17 carries versus Jacksonville, with a fumble for good measure.

However, if the Texans (OVER 2-1-1) keep playing the way they are, the OVER is going to be difficult to pass up. Football Outsiders has Houston's defense ranked No. 26 overall (No. 23 pass, No. 22 rush) in efficiency through Week 4. The Texans only managed to make contact with QB Matt Ryan twice during last Sunday's epic 48-21 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Imagine how well Atlanta may have done the past couple of years with better health on the offensive line.

 

Duck Toler
In theory, getting Brian Hoyer back in the starting lineup instead of Ryan Mallett will improve Houston's offense, too. At least Hoyer has played at replacement level (+13 passing DYAR), which is miles ahead of Mallett's performance (–117 DYAR) thus far. And who knows, maybe RB Arian Foster will shake off the rust after rushing for 10 yards on eight carries in his season debut against Atlanta.

All those missing players on Indy's No. 19-ranked defense (No. 22 pass, No. 11 rush) could help the OVER cash in, too. CB Jalil Brown (groin) was put on injured reserve Wednesday. CB Vontae Davis has been held out of practice with a foot injury. However, CB Greg Toler (neck) is expected to make his debut against the Texans. What to do? We'll defer to the consensus reports, where 54 percent of early bettors were taking the UNDER at press time. Sharps, don't fail us now as we get ready to place our NFL picks.

NFL Picks: Take UNDER 45 at GTBets

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