NFL Picks: Colts Will Cover in Low-Scoring Backup Bowl vs. Texans

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, December 17, 2015 10:46 PM UTC

Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015 10:46 PM UTC

Huge game in the AFC South on Sunday afternoon between the Texans and Colts in Indianapolis and potentially the division champion will be determined by a backup quarterback. Indy is a 1-point favorite on JustBet's NFL odds with a total of 41 points.

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NFL Picks: Colts -1 & Under 41

Best Line Offered: at JustBet


Breaking Down The Division
The winner of this game is in good shape to take the AFC South and the fourth seed in the playoffs, hosting either (most likely) the Jets, Chiefs or Steelers on wild-card weekend. Both Indianapolis and Houston are 6-7, with Jacksonville a game back. The Colts won the first meeting with the Texans and thus would take any tiebreaker with a win here. Indy closes at Miami and home to Tennessee, two clubs with losing records playing out the string. Houston closes at Tennessee and home to Jacksonville. If the Texans beat the Colts and then beat the Titans in Week 16, they will win the division. The Jaguars host Atlanta this week and close at New Orleans and at Houston. The Colts are -130 favorites on NFL odds to win the South.


Welcome To Backup Bowl
Assuming things go as expected in practice this week, we will have Indianapolis backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck facing Texans No. 2 T.J. Yates.

For sure Yates will be in there as starter Brian Hoyer suffered his second concussion of the season in last week's home loss to New England. It's no sure thing that Hoyer will miss just one week. Brandon Weeden will be the No. 2 this week at least. Yates made  a spot start for an injured Hoyer on Nov. 22 at home in a 24-17 win over the Jets and wasn't bad, completing 16-for-34 for 229 yards with two touchdowns and no picks. That was Yates' first NFL start since the 2011 season.

Colts starting QB Andrew Luck returned to practice on Wednesday for the first time since suffering a lacerated kidney on Nov. 8 but he's still not close to being ready and ESPN reported this week there's some doubt if Luck can return this season. Hasselbeck has failed to finish Indy's last two games and had an MRI on Monday as he's dealing with rib and arm injuries, but Coach Chuck Pagano expects him to go. He practiced Thursday, albeit in limited fashion. If Hasselbeck can't play, it's "Clipboard Jesus," otherwise known as journeyman Charlie Whitehurst.

Indianapolis looked awful even with Hasselbeck last week in a 51-16 loss at Jacksonville -- the week after the Colts were destroyed 45-10 in Pittsburgh. Last week's defeat ended Indianapolis' 16-game winning streak in the division, the longest in league history. It might not matter which QB is in there Sunday if that Indianapolis defense, which allowed a franchise-worst 42 second-half points to the Jags, doesn't turn things around. It's just more proof that head coach Chuck Pagano, who has a defensive background, will not be back next season barring a miraculous Super Bowl run.

Houston is 6-7 against the spread this season on NFL picks and 7-5-1 'over/under.' Indy is 6-7 ATS and 7-6 O/U.


Last Meeting
In Week 5 in Houston in a quick turnaround Thursday game, the Texans were 5-point favorites (total of 40.5) but were upset 27-20. That was Hasselbeck's second straight start following Luck's first injury absence and Hasselbeck was a solid 18-for-29 for 213 yards and two touchdowns, both to former Texans receiver Andre Johnson. He caught six balls for 77 yards and Frank Gore rushed 22 times for 98 yards and a TD. Ryan Mallett, since released, started at QB for Houston but was injured on a hit in the second quarter and replaced with Hoyer. Hoyer had pretty good numbers, going 24-for-31 for 312 yards and two scores (both to rookie Jaelen Strong) but also had a crucial late interception. The Texans still had star running back Arian Foster back then and he had 41 yards rushing and 77 receiving. DeAndre Hopkins caught 11 passes for 169 yards.


NFL Pick & Analysis
Houston has never won in Indianapolis, going 0-13. Let's make it 14 as long as it's Hasselbeck in there. Go 'under.' The Colts are 20-6 ATS in their past 26 vs. teams with a losing record. Houston is 0-5-1 ATS in the past six  meetings. The 'under' is 6-0 in the past six meetings in Indianapolis.

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