Knock on wood, but I’m on a four-game against-the-spread winning streak on Sunday Night Football here at Sports Interaction. Let’s keep it going this week as Indianapolis visits Houston in an AFC South matchup. Those two have combined for the past seven division titles and it’s likely that either the Colts or Texans takes the South again this year — it might only take a .500 record as the South is again the worst division in football.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans
Point spread: Texans -3
Date: Sunday, Oct. 16, 8:30 p.m. ET
Location: NRG Stadium, Houston
The Colts (2-3) probably saved their season with a 29-23 home win over a bad Chicago team in Week 5. The problem, however, is that Indy’s No. 1 problem — defense — showed no signs of improvement. Chicago, not exactly an offensive powerhouse and starting backup quarterback Brian Hoyer, had 522 yards of offense.
There was a new wrinkle from the Colts in the game offensively as they went more up-tempo. Part of the reason is to help keep quarterback Andrew Luck alive as he plays behind one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines. He was sacked five more times — and has gone down an NFL-high 20 times this season — but threw for 322 yards and two touchdowns, including the go-ahead 36-yard score to T.Y. Hilton with 3:34 to go.
Hilton caught 10 passes for 171 yards and that TD. He has 25 catches for 387 yards and three touchdowns over the past three games. Indianapolis running back Frank Gore added 75 yards rushing and passed maybe the best running back ever, Jim Brown, for ninth place on the all-time rushing yardage list. Adam Vinatieri was 5-for-5 on field goals and has made 38 in a row, which is second in NFL history (42 by the Colts’ Mike Vanderjagt from 2002-04). At age 43, Vinatieri is the oldest player in the league. Injury-wise, the Colts’ second-best cornerback, Darius Butler, fractured his finger against the Bears and was to have surgery on Tuesday. He’s questionable against Houston.
Indianapolis is 2-3 against the spread this season and 4-1 over/under.
The Texans (3-2) have looked like one of the NFL’s worst teams away from home this season. They were blown out at New England 27-0 in Week 3 and then were dominated 31-13 at Minnesota on Sunday, although to be fair the Patriots and Vikings are both Super Bowl contenders. But there has to be concern about Houston quarterback Brock Osweiler. He really struggled against the Vikings, completing just 19 of 42 for 184 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Most of those yards were in garbage time, and Houston had only four drives of more than five plays. In the two road games, Osweiler’s rating is 58.3 which would easily be the worst in the NFL.
And what’s going on with DeAndre Hopkins? He was arguably the third-best receiver in the NFL last year but other than Week 2 vs. Kansas City hasn’t topped five catches or 56 yards in game this season. in 2015, Hopkins had 111 catches for 1,521 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Defensively, the Texans’ pass rush is not getting much pressure without three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt, who is done for the season. Houston is also banged up in the secondary. Cornerback Kareem Jackson missed the Vikings game with a hamstring injury, fellow corner Johnathan Joseph left in the first half to a concussion and safety Quintin Demps left the game with a calf injury. Perhaps not good news against Hilton, who has 21 receptions for 432 yards and four touchdowns in his last three trips to Houston.
The Texans are 3-2 ATS this year and 2-3 O/U.
Colts vs. Texans Prediction
Houston and Indianapolis split last year, with the road team winning each and Luck missing both due to injury. The Texans haven’t won at home vs. Indianapolis since 2012. But in the Texans’ three home games this year, they have outscored opponents by an average of 23 points per game. Houston wins this one but give the 2.5-point alternate line (-128). Go over the total.