Indy is a 7.5-point favorite on Week 15 NFL odds as they face the Texans, who badly need a win just to keep wild-card hopes alive. The Colts can clinch their 2nd straight AFC South title with a win.
Colts Want Top 2 Seed
Depending on how long the game takes, the Colts could become the first team in the league to clinch a division title. I say depending on how long the game takes because the Miami-New England game also kicks off at 1 p.m. ET, and the Patriots also can clinch with a win.
Indianapolis continues to lead the NFL in passing behind Andrew Luck, and he's tied with Peyton Manning for the most TD passes with 36. Luck is a +175 second-favorite on NFL odds to Manning (+150) to throw the most scores this year. Luck is already 13 TDs past his previous career high and he's only 69 yards short of his yardage mark. A 5,000-yard season seems nearly a lock barring injury.
The Colts (9-4) aren't looking beyond the Texans, but certainly Indianapolis knows where it stands in the AFC pecking order for a possible top-two seed in the playoffs. Currently the Colts are a game behind the Patriots and Broncos, and Indy loses a head-to-head with New England. It most likely would lose one with Denver too based on conference record.
Some thought the Indy offense might take a small step back when versatile tailback Ahmad Bradshaw was lost for the season a few weeks ago, but Daniel Herron has filled in nicely and is getting more snaps than starter Trent Richardson is. Herron has had at least 81 yards from scrimmage in the past three games and is a way better receiver than Richardson is.
Colts receiver Reggie Wayne is playing through a torn triceps injury, but Sunday's game will be a milestone for him. It will be game No. 209 in a Colts uniform, the most in franchise history (passing Manning). The injury appears to be bothering Wayne as he hasn't had more than four catches or more than 31 yards in the past three games.
Indianapolis is 9-4 against the spread and 9-4 'over/under' at sportsbooks.
Texans Still Alive for Postseason
Houston (7-6) sits eighth in the AFC standings so a wild-card spot is still very possible with an upset here -- of course the Texans still want to win the division. Since losing starting QB Ryan Mallett to a season-ending injury in a Week 12 loss to Cincinnati, the Texans have won back-to-back games by at least 14 points. Ryan Fitzpatrick had one of the most unlikely six touchdown games in NFL history two weeks ago in a 45-21 rout of Tennessee.
Last week in a 27-13 win in Jacksonville, Fitzpatrick came screaming back to earth by going 13 of 19 for 135 yards and no touchdowns. The star of that game was Arian Foster with his 24 carries for 127 yards and a touchdown. It was his seventh 100-yard game in 10 played. He has been a bit banged up most of the season and missed a few.
Injury-wise, Houston is hoping star receiver Andre Johnson can play. He left the Jacksonville game in the second quarter with a concussion. Obviously he will have to pass the NFL's concussion protocols. Johnson has 69 catches for 737 yards and two scores this season. Houston got bad injury news this week when 2014 No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney, who has barely played this year, underwent microfracture surgery on his knee. That's major, and he might not be 100 percent by the start of next season. It often takes two years to fully recover. The Texans might be having buyer's remorse on that pick.
The best player on the Texans is end J.J. Watt, who is a lock for NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He is third in the NFL with 14.5 sacks. Watt is the +300 third-favorite on Bovada's NFL odds to win the sacks title. Kansas City's Justin Houston (+175) and Baltimore's Elvis Dumervil (+225) are tied for the league lead with 16 sacks.
Houston is 8-5 against the NFL betting spread this season and 7-6 'over/under.'
In Week 6 in Houston, the Colts were 2.5-points favorites at sportsbooks and won 33-28. Indy ran out to a 24-0 first-quarter lead and hung on. Fourth-quarter fumbles by Houston's Johnson and Fitzpatrick ruined any chance at a win for the Texans. Luck threw for 370 yards and three touchdowns. Fitzpatrick threw for 212 and a score. Foster had 109 yards rushing and two TDs. Watt brought the Texans within 5 points with a 45-yard fumble return for a score with 10:36 left in the fourth. Overall, the Colts have won four straight vs. Houston and are 21-4 all time. Indy is 12-0 at home in this series.
NFL Free Picks: Take the NFL betting line from The Greek on Indy -6.5 and 'over' 49 points. The Colts have covered four straight in this series. The 'over' is 7-3 in the Colts' past 10 after a win. The 'over' is 9-3 in Houston's past 12 following an ATS win.