For the third time in the last four seasons, the Houston Texans (11-5) host a wild-card game as they welcome their AFC South rivals the Indianapolis Colts (10-6) to NRG Stadium. These squads split their two-game season series, with each team claiming victory on the road and Indianapolis winning the most recent game in Week 14 at NRG Stadium. However, for this week’s game, it is the Texans who are 2.5-point favorites with the total Sportsbook at 47.5 points.
Indianapolis vs Houston Game Center
Colts cruised through the second half of the season
After Sportsbook the season with a 1-5 SU record, Indianapolis’ playoff hopes were hanging by a thread. However, a 9-1 SU record through the final 10 games of the season has landed the team in a wild-card game. The Colts’ success was due largely to an impressive offensive line that allowed quarterback Andrew Luck plenty of time to pick apart the opponent’s secondary. That O-line was tops in the NFL, surrendering an average of just 1.1 sacks per game, an incredible turnaround from the previous season when their 3.5 sacks allowed per game was the worst mark in the league. This drastic change can be partly attributed to their 2018 first-round pick, Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson (sixth overall), who has gone on to become a Pro Bowler in his rookie season.
Another reason for Indianapolis’ rough start to the year was the injury to starting running back Marlon Mack, who missed four of the Sportsbook five games but finished the year with 908 rushing yards and nine touchdowns, averaging 4.7 yards per carry, which ranked in a tie for 17th-best in the league. Among the span of games that he missed, Andrew Luck was the leading rusher for the Colts in Week 3 at Philadelphia with 33 yards, and Jordan Wilkins had a team-high 16 yards the week after vs Houston.
Texans look to remain strong at home
Houston has the luxury of hosting this wild-card game after putting together an impressive 11-5 campaign, including going 6-2 at NRG Stadium. Much like the Colts, the Texans stumbled out of the gate to a 0-3 start but caught fire after a 37-34 overtime win at Indianapolis in Week 4 that catapulted them into a nine-game winning streak. They had to deal with some adversity when they lost Will Fuller V to a season-ending ACL injury after the wide receiver paced the team in receiving yards in four of the first eight games.
Overall, though, it was the defense that paved the path to victory for the Texans as they surrendered just 19.8 points per game, the fourth-fewest in the NFL, including just 17 ppg at home to rank third in the league. Additionally, they had the second-best turnover margin per game at +0.8 and led the league in opponent fumbles lost per game at 0.9. Of course, the defense is led by three-time defensive player of the year J.J. Watt, who topped the league with seven forced fumbles and was second in sacks with 16. Offensively, Houston averaged 25.1 points per game to rank 11th in the NFL and had the eighth-most rushing yards per game at 126.3.
Should you be on the UNDER?
Houston and Indianapolis were both strong UNDER bets in the latter stages of the season and Sportsbook has the total Sportsbook at 47.5 points. These two teams had vastly different offensive games in their two meetings, with the first game ending with a combined score of 71 – their highest combined score ever – while the second game combined for 45 points, much more on the norm. Overall, the total has gone UNDER in 12 of the last 17 meetings between the Colts and Texans, with just four games over that span going OVER 47.5 points. Meanwhile, five of Houston’s last eight games have gone UNDER 47.5 points and three of Indianapolis’ last five have gone UNDER 47.5. Both teams rank in the top 10 for fewest points allowed per game and I think another UNDER is in store for them.
My take on Indianapolis vs Houston
I like the Colts +2.5. Indianapolis went into NRG Stadium just five weeks ago and walked out with a 24-21 win. Houston got the better of Indianapolis in Week 4, but the Colts were without running back Marlon Mack, and Andrew Luck threw for a season-high 464 yards and four touchdowns. Additionally, the Colts were 9-1 SU and 6-3-1 ATS through their final 10 games with an average winning margin of 12.3. Lastly, Indianapolis is 3-1 SU and ATS in its last four against Houston and I expect this trend to continue.