TNF Pick: Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans
Indianapolis Colts (6-4 SU, 5-4-1 ATS) vs. Houston Texans (6-4 SU, 5-5 ATS)
NFL Week 12
Date/Time: Thursday, November 21, 2019 at 8:20PM EST
Where: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
TV: Fox/NFL Network
Point Spread: IND +3.5/HOU -3.5 (MyBookie)
Over/Under Total: 45.5
The Indianapolis Colts come to NRG Stadium for an AFC South showdown with the Houston Texans on Thursday Night Football. Both teams enter this contest knotted up at 6-4, making this game for first place in the division. The Colts were able to put an end to their slide and take advantage of the Texans’ misfortunes last week, beating the Jaguars, 33-13, and now looking to put together a run into the postseason. The Texans were blasted by the Ravens, 41-7, on Sunday, and now look to get back on the winning track. Who can get the cover on TNF?
What Part I Tells Us
Since these two teams played a month ago, it only makes sense to examine it. Sure, things change from week to week so much in this league that you can’t really use past results to frame a game, but it’s helpful to take a peek at what happened. With Indy winning at home, 30-23, we saw both teams struggling to get anything going on the ground. The aerial contest was won by Jacoby Brissett, who had a big game with over 300 yards and 4 TD throws. Houston’s Deshaun Watson was certainly prolific, but two picks were costly in a one-score game. It was a decent game, with Indy building up a double-digit lead in the second half and winning by a TD. The Houston defense didn’t do a great job, and after how they looked last week, it stands out as a compelling element of this matchup.
Don’t Take Houston’s Loss and Run with It
Since losing in week one, the Texans have this weird pattern of winning twice and then losing—a trend that has unfolded three times already this season. But Sunday’s loss was a definite low-water mark for the Texans. They were impotent on both sides of the ball and were basically run over by Lamar Jackson and the Ravens in an embarrassing 34-point loss. A team that had been showing some good resistance against the run, while running the ball well themselves, the Texans were run over by the Ravens’ run-game and couldn’t forge a rushing attack of their own.
While the takeaway from that result can’t be disregarded, it’s probably going to lead us down the wrong path if we take it too much to heart. Baltimore has done that to a handful of teams this season, so the Texans are not alone. At the end of the day, they’re still a winning team tied for first place and to consider them anything but based on last week could be a mistake.
Which Offense Has a Better Chance of Firing?
That could be a tossup. Houston came within a score of Indy in the first game between the two, and that was in Indy, with the two Watson picks playing a pivotal role. That can be cleaned up, and they’ll be right in there with the Colts. Indy was also able to rush the QB, a constant thorn in the side for a Houston O-line that isn’t the best and not as good as Indy’s. It holds them back. And missing Will Fuller (questionable) doesn’t help, but this could still be a good offense. DeAndre Hopkins is one of the best receivers in the league. Darren Fells has 6 TDs from the tight end position. Kenny Stills has been a solid contributor. With Carlos Hyde, Duke Johnson, and Watson, they can move the ball on the ground.
I think the Indy ground-attack still has a chance of getting off in this game. On Sunday, this part of the team was on fire. Marlon Mack was over 100 yards, with backup Jonathan Williams also going over 100. That was important, as Mack will be out of action. With how bad Houston’s run defense has looked, especially last week, this could be an angle for Indy to exploit, even without Mack. And Brissett has already shown he can exploit the Texans aerially. One outstanding concern is that the Indy aerial-attack has taken a step back since beating Houston a month ago. With TY Hilton (questionable) out, they are a bit thin in terms of aerial weaponry, but then again, Houston’s secondary has struggled against most teams they’ve faced this season. Still, Indy without Mack and Hilton should give one pause.
Balance on Defense
Indy’s defense might not have a lot of stars on it and sometimes, they really don’t stand out in anything they do. But they can rush the passer, get turnovers, and show an equal amount of stoutness against the run and through the air. With Justin Houston up front still able to create menace on opposing quarterbacks and difference-making linebacker Darius Leonard, they have a big-play component they can unveil at the right time. They have a knack of playing better as the game carries on. Just from looking at them this season and in their first game against Houston, they appear the more-balanced unit.
That’s not to say Houston’s defense is bad and in fact, they’ve allowed 2.6 points less per game at 18 allowed per contest. But as we saw against Baltimore and in the first game against Indy, their valleys are lower, and they’re not getting any better. Other than giving up 3 to the Jags a few weeks ago, they’ve been allowing a lot, and other than that game, they’ve given up an average of over 30 points in their last five games. Torched fairly regularly through the air this season, their performance against the Baltimore ground-game, combined by how good Indy looked in that area last week is a definite potential sticking point for this one.
Take the Road Dog
Three straight wins for Indy in this matchup does illustrate that they match up favorably against their divisional opponent. Of course, once you notice patterns in this league, they’re due to stop being patterns. Nevertheless, in this spot and getting points, I think Indy represents the superior value and the more-bankable proposition. I’ll take the Colts.
Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Indianapolis Colts plus 3.5 points.
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