INDIANAPOLIS COLTS AT HOUSTON TEXANS (+3.5, 45.5)
Houston's defense was carved up by Lamar Jackson in last week's 41-7 shellacking at Baltimore, halting a two-game winning streak and now they'll have to deal with a Colts passing offense that shredded them for 321 back in Week 7.
While the Texans clearly have a bunch of issues on defense, one of their biggest problems this season has been their slow starts. Houston ranks 31st in the league when it comes to first quarter scoring at a miniscule 2.3 points per contest.
Meanwhile, the Colts have scored at least one first quarter touchdown in six of the last seven games quarterback Jacoby Brissett has started. With the Texans early game deficiencies we love the value with the Colts on the first quarter moneyline.
Pick: Colts (+130) First Quarter Moneyline
FIRST HALF BET
With Brissett back under center, Indianapolis rebounded from a stunning home loss to lowly Miami by rolling up a lopsided 33-13 victory over Jacksonville on Sunday, while limiting an opponent to 16 points or fewer for the third time in four weeks.
Overall, the Colts Defense ranks 13th in DVOA and 10th against the pass. Where they do struggle a bit is against the run, where they rank 23rd and you can expect Houston to try and take advantage of that. Surprisingly, with their duo of Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson, the Texans rank 14th in rushing DVOA and average 5.0 yards per carry this season.
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The Colts rush offense on the other hand, ranks seventh in DVOA and while losing Mack hurts, their offensive line is so good that it almost doesn’t matter who is running the ball. For example: Jonathan Williams stepped in for Mack last week and totaled 148 yards. So, while the Colts know they can expose the Texans in the pass game, you can’t expect them to abandon the run.
With the Texans slow starts and a commitment to running the ball on both sides, we like the first half to stay Under the total.
Pick: Under 23 First Half Total
The three certainties in life: Death. Taxes. And T.Y. Hilton torching the Texans. Hilton has absolutely dominated his division rival over the years. The Colts wideout averages 1011.3 receiving yards per game against the Texans. Averages! In 15 games against the Texans, Hilton has hauled in 82 catches for 1,519 yards and 10 touchdowns. Back in Week 7, he went for 74 yards on six catches and a score and if he is even close to healthy for this one, you can expect more of the same.
Houston has been burned by opposing receivers all reason long, ranking 25th in pass defense DVOA and their secondary is dealing with a multitude of injuries. Take a hard look at T.Y. to go over his reception total, but the best value lies with him to score a touchdown at anytime against favorite opponent.
Pick: T.Y. Hilton Anytime TD (+125)
FULL GAME TOTAL
While the Texans may be known for their slow starts, they definitely pick things up in the second half of games. Behind a lot of Watson brilliance, Houston ranks fourth in second-half scoring at 14.8 points per contest and at home that number jumps up to 17.0. And prior last week’s beat down in Baltimore Watson had been having a fantastic season. The former Clemson product is completing nearly 70 percent of his passes for 2,601 yards with 18 touchdowns to six interceptions and a 103.3 passer rating. While the Colts have a solid a pass defense, Watson put up 308 yards in their last meeting. Watson also has the luxury of relying on star wideout DeAndre Hopkins, who has 745 yards on 75 receptions and is one of the best in the NFL at extending drives.
With the success we expect from the Colts Offense, and the fact the Texans will be determined to show that last week was an aberration, we like this one to eclipse the number.
Pick: Over 45.5
FULL GAME SIDE
Division matchups are always tough to call, particularly when so much is on the line and this game is shaping up to be no different. This game has “back-and-forth” written all over it, but the two defensive lines could be the key to who covers the spread.
The Texans have struggled to get a pass rush ever since J.J. Watt was lost to injury, meaning the Colts dominant offensive line should be able to give Brissett plenty of time to read the field and pick apart a banged up Texans secondary.
For the Colts, Justin Houston has found his groove in Indy. The defensive end has a sack in six consecutive games and gets to go up against a sub-Texans o-line, not to mention Watson may be a bit hobbled by an ankle issue suffered against Baltimore. Take the points with the road dog on Thursday night.
Pick: Colts +3.5