The Indianapolis Colts are lucky to have a 2-2 record going into their game against their AFC South division rival, the Houston Texans, but their luck could run out if Andrew Luck finds himself limited due to a shoulder injury that kept him on the sidelines last week. With the best player for the Colts hobbled, Houston could have a legitimate chance at grabbing the win in a weak division that’s up for grabs. The point spread is currently favoring the Texans at -4.5.
Thursday Night Footall: Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans
Point Spread: Houston -4.5 Over/under: 43.5 Date: Thursday, October 8 8:25pm ET Location:NRG Stadium, Houston, TX
With Luck nursing a sore shoulder, the +4.5 underdog Colts will turn to running back Frank Gore to move the ball downfield against a Texans defense that is currently ranked 23rd in the league in rushing defense. The success of the Colts running game will hinge on whether or not Luck can get into a rhythm with some short, high-percentage completions to force the defense to respect the possibility of a play down field. Without production from Gore, this offense won’t go far so long as Luck is less than 100% healthy.
The Colts are ranked 27th in the league in overall defense, but face a bad Houston offense that is averaging just 19.3 points per game. The secondary is giving up 268 yards per game, but will find it easier against the Texans who have struggled to find good quarterback play between Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallet. The larger concern is running back Arian Foster’s return to the line up after being injured in the preseason. Keep Foster in check and they could pull off the win.
J.J. Watt has four sacks through four weeks of play, but hasn’t been as disruptive in the first quarter of this season as he has in years past. That could all change against the Colts, whose offensive line is in shambles this season. If the defensive line can control the line of scrimmage and get consistent pressure on the quarterback, they’ll have an easier time stopping Gore without the threat of Luck making the big plays downfield.
Texans coach Bill O’Brien has reinstated Hoyer as starting quarterback after Mallet performed poorly last week against the Falcons. Neither quarterback has been promising in their chances to lock down the starting job, but Hoyer could see success against a very soft Colts secondary. Add Foster into the mix and the Texans have a real chance to get their second win of the season.
Thursday Night Football Prediction
While many will say the outcome of this game depends on how well Luck can play while injured, the Colts haven’t looked good even when he was healthy. With two teams that are suffering through inconsistent play at quarterback and a high turnover rate, the X-factor on both sides will come down to the effectiveness of the ground game. The team that gets more from their running backs gets the win. I expect Arian Foster to be the difference maker.