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Mack-less Colts Road Dogs at Texans on Thursday Night

As comforting as it was for the Colts to have Jacoby Brissett back from a knee injury that cost him Week 10, it was the team’s rush attack that led Indianapolis to a 33-13 drubbing of Jacksonville. With the win, Indy improved to 6-4 straight up and 5-4-1 against the spread.

Deshaun Watson was harassed by the Ravens pass rush throughout the Texans’ 41-7 loss at Baltimore, which dropped Houston to second in the AFC South at 6-4 overall (the Colts own the tiebreaker) and 5-5 ATS.

Matchup Information
  • Indianapolis Colts vs Houston Texans (Matchup Report)
  • Date/Time: November 21, 8:20 p.m. ET
  • TV Coverage: FOX
  • Opening Odds: Houston -5.5 | O/U 46.5 (Line History)

Opening Odds Analysis

The Texans opened as 5.5-point home favorites before a dip down to Houston -4 on Monday morning. Indianapolis’ moneyline opened at +196 and the point total at 46.5. The total has gone UNDER in seven of Houston’s last eight home games.

The Colts beat the Texans 30-23 four weeks ago but with a different roster that I’ll touch on below.

Houston is 8-2 straight up but just 4-5-1 ATS over its past 10 games as a home favorite of 4 or fewer points. Indianapolis has covered in two of its past three games as a road dog of 4 or fewer points but is also 6-0 ATS over its past six contests against the AFC South.  

Indianapolis News & Notes


Lead running back Marlon Mack rushed 14 times for 109 yards and a touchdown against the Jaguars. He also broke his predominant hand when carrying the ball and will miss this Thursday night’s game. Without Mack, the Colts are missing 61 percent of their rush and 25 percent of their total offensive production.

Granted, Jonathan Williams stepped up to rush 13 times for a career-high 116 yards, but he did it against a Jaguars defense that has allowed 175.3 rush yards per game over their past three. The Texans have allowed 102 rush yards per game this season.

So, the Colts are without Mack, and star receiver T.Y. Hilton won’t be back this week as he recovers from a calf injury. When Indy beat the Texans last month, Hilton caught six passes for 74 yards and a touchdown, while Zach Pascal hauled in six for 106 and two scores. In his four games since, Pascal has averaged fewer than three receptions and 31.3 receiving yards, with one touchdown. Brissett may have torched the Texans secondary for 326 yards and four touchdowns in the first meeting, but under VERY different circumstances.

Rounding out the injury report, cornerback Pierre Desir is questionable with a hamstring injury.

Try not to read too much into the Colts’ defensive effort against the Jaguars as Nick Foles was asked to throw 47 times in his first start since Week 1. Leonard Fournette handled eight of the team’s nine rush attempts. A 47-to-9 pass-to-rush attempt ratio is terrible no matter how good the Colts rush defense is this season.

Now, if you’re looking for a reason to back the Colts, Indy did keep Jacksonville out of the red zone for 60 minutes, which is commendable.

Houston News & Notes

The old habits of the Houston offensive line cost the Texans any shot at competing at Baltimore. Deshaun Watson was hit 10 times and sacked seven times by the Ravens pass rush. He also had six passes batted down, which really drives home the point of how he stood no chance to make any plays. The Colts defense is averaging 2.5 sacks per game, which may allow Watson to catch his breath Thursday night.

As was Jacksonville’s case against Indy, Houston failed to reach the red zone against the Ravens and was just 2-for-10 on third downs. This isn’t ideal considering the Texans were just 2-for-5 in the red zone against the Colts at Indy.

Yet, there is hope for Houston.

Before getting embarrassed by Baltimore, the Texans won four of their previous five by an average margin of 13.5 points. This stretch included victories over the Chiefs (with Mahomes) and an improved Raiders squad. All of this is to say, try to avoid an emotion reaction when fading the Texans this Thursday.

On the injury front, cornerback Bradley Roby and receiver Will Fuller are both questionable with hamstring injuries. Fellow receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Kenny Stills combined for 13 receptions and 211 yards against the Colts last month. So, if they can count on Fuller to round out their three-wide sets, it’ll go a long way to counteract Indy’s defense that has allowed just 63 rush yards per game over their past three.

Betting Pick: Texans -4

If you take a step back, it’s easy to embrace the fact that the Texans are not as bad as they looked against Baltimore and, perhaps, the Ravens are just that good, right? Without Mack, the Colts lose a huge cog in their offense. The short week actually benefits Houston here as the Texans look to get Week 11’s bad taste out of their mouths quickly.

Shark Bites
  • The Colts are 4-0 SU and ATS over their last 4 AFC South road games.
  • The Texans are 12-3 SU in their last 15 games as favorite.
  • The total has gone UNDER in 5 of the Colts’ last 7 games vs the Texans (avg. combined score: 43.57).