Indianapolis Colts (2-3 SU, 2-3 ATS) vs. Houston Texans (3-2 SU, 3-2 ATS)
Week 6 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday Night Football, October 16, 2016 at 8:30PM EST
Where: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: IND +3/HOU -3
Over/Under Total: 46
The Indianapolis Colts take on the Houston Texans on Sunday Night Football in week six AFC South action from NRG Stadium. The Colts scored a much-needed win on Sunday, going to 2-3 with a 29-23 home victory over the Chicago Bears. After all their early-season bumps, they are now a win from going to .500 with a win over the Texans. Houston is coming off a tough loss to the unbeaten Vikings, 31-13. They look for their second divisional win this week against the incoming Colts.
The Colts looked a lot better on offense on Sunday, turning Andrew Luck loose some more and working with a discernibly-faster pace. Luck was able to sling the ball around, going downfield, and just generally opening things up some. As a result, Luck was 28-for-39 through the air with 322 yards. TY Hilton was prolific with some big plays and 171 yards receiving. Frank Gore had a nice game, as did TE Dwayne Allen who caught a Luck TD pass. We saw more big-yard plays and maybe the Colts have found something. And old dependable Adam Vinatieri was at it again on Sunday with five field goals. And despite the higher tempo, the Colts had no turnovers on the day.
The Colts face a massive challenge in winning with a defense that is anything but robust. They're giving up nearly 30 points per game. They are not terribly strong in any one area, but they are better than they appear to be on paper--sometimes. They have the ability to play clutch ball, not that they always will. But Sunday was a good case in point, with Bears' QB Brian Hoyer throwing for 397 yards and RB Jordan Howard running for 118 yards, as the Bears gained 522 yards on offense on the day. At the end, despite just one Chicago turnover, the Bears could only spin that into 23 points. On third downs and in other crucial junctures, the Colts were able to step up and provide some resistance.
The Colts seldom start the season particularly well. This isn't the first time. And there have been other seasons where locking in any perceptions on the Colts early in the season proved to be costly to bettors. And there's something about Andrew Luck where the struggle only frames the comeback. There has to be something to overcome. Granted, they are not a terribly bankable entity, but they have a lot of upside.
Houston probably deserves a pass for coming up short in a tough cross-conference matchup out of their element in the Vikings' new digs in Minneapolis. It just would have been nice to see them put up more of a fight, being that they were out of the game pretty quick and never really threatened to kick it into gear, A late TD made it look even closer than it really was. When they fall flat, they really stink it up. In all fairness, they haven't lost to just anybody with their two losses on the season being on the road to the Pats and Vikes. Back at home, expect a different look.
On Sunday, Brock Osweiler was not at his best, going 19-for-42 for a rough 184 yards with a TD and a pick. When he's off, he looks pretty lousy. They managed two field goals until late in the 4th quarter when Osweiler hit DeAndre Hopkins for a score. The Texans converted one of 13 third down attempts and had just 214 yards of offense on the day. They are looking for Lamar Miller to be more consistent in getting the run-game rolling. And they've been getting rookie Will Fuller more involved, as he has had a few big games already this season. Whether he and Hopkins can make a sound 1-2 punch for Osweiler remains to be seen.
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The Houston defense has been really good against the pass, but we'll see if they can maintain it with three of their starting DBs out of action, as Jonathan Joseph and Quintin Demps both got knocked out of Sunday's game. CB Kareem Jackson was kept out of this game and we'll see how intact this secondary is come Sunday night, with those three listed as day to day. They already lost JJ Watt for the season and are now depending on this group to make up the difference. To their credit, they're a resilient unit with a lot of talent still in this unit. We'll see what they can come up with against what looks like an Indy offense that found a higher gear this past Sunday.
Houston is unbeaten at home at 3-0. They covered the spread in all of those games. Offensively, they seem pretty challenged, which puts a lot of the onus on a defense that hasn't exactly made it to week six unscathed. Not that it's still not a good defense, but are they going to be good enough to hold down Andrew Luck with the bulk of their pass-rush and secondary either out or compromised? Granted, the Texans have depth in those areas, but I see the best-case scenario for the Texans being a close win, while the ceiling seems higher for Indy. I'm taking the Colts and the points.
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