Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans (-3, 48.5 o/u)
NBC hasn’t exactly showcased the most exciting football games on Sunday nights thus far, and Week 6’s matchup may not stray from the trend. But, that’s the beauty of gambling on a game: it makes it all the more watchable. Putting aside my shots at prime time games this season, we should at least see some offense this Sunday night (October 16, 8:30 PM ET) when the Indianapolis Colts (2-3 SU, 2-3 ATS) head south to try to knock off the division-leading Houston Texans (3-2 SU, 3-2 ATS).
I know I have already given you a winner for this game in my Week 6 NFL Picks article, but didn’t provide much detail as to why. So, here’s the detail.
The Colts are coming off a 29-23 victory at home over the Chicago Bears. They may have left the game with the win, but it wasn’t all smiles for Indianapolis in Week 5. Their defense gave up 522 total yards, including 397 through the air, to a Brian Hoyer-led Bears offense. Fortunately, they were bailed out by the Andrew Luck-T.Y. Hilton connection, which accounted for 171 yards and a touchdown, and the leg of Adam Vinatieri (5/5 on field goals).
Moving forward, there is nothing to suggest the Colts defense will get any better. The fractured finger Darius Butler suffered last week will require surgery, and he’ll miss at least this week. On top of that, Patrick Robinson’s availability is also in jeopardy, as he is battling a knee injury. It’s hard to imagine the 30th-ranked total defense (30th in scoring as well) getting much worse, but forecasting them getting any better is even more difficult with those two DBs banged up.
That means Andrew Luck (1,469 passing yards, ten touchdowns, three interceptions) and the ninth-ranked passing offense will have to out-duelling their opponent week after week. Luck has received a little more help than expected from his running game this year, namely Frank Gore. Well, when they choose to run the ball, that is. Indianapolis has only handed the ball off 112 times this season (26th), but Gore has been churning out an average of 4.2 yards on his share of the carries.
The team Luck will have to outscore this week, the Houston Texans, is one that is desperately seeking for some offense, ranking 31st in scoring. The finger can confidently be pointed at their quarterback for their early struggles. Not only has Brock Osweiler not lived up to the $18 million he’s due to make this season, but he hasn’t even looked like a decent starting quarterback. Osweiler is only completing 58-percent of his passes, while averaging 226.6 passing yards per game and throwing more picks (seven) than touchdowns (six). All of that adds up to a brutal 70.6 passer rating.
This kind of performance from Osweiler would be understandable if he lacked talent around him, but that’s not the case. In fact, he has one of the best receivers in the league in DeAndre Hopkins, and an emerging playmaker in rookie Will Fuller. Neither are putting up the numbers they are capable of, though, and the cause is their quarterback’s inability to get them the ball.
Osweiler’s inadequacies are not only affecting his receivers. Running back Lamar Miller is also facing a lot of heavy boxes, and it has resulted in him only averaging 3.7 yards per carry while being held out of the end zone all season.
Fortunately, Osweiler and the Texan offense won’t have to line up against the Vikings defense in Week 6. Instead, they’ll see one of the worst defenses in the league.
Their own defense will have their hands full dealing with Andrew Luck, and may have to do so without their two starting corners. Johnathan Joseph left last week’s game with a concussion and is listed as questionable for Week 6, while Kareem Jackson missed Week 5 with a hamstring injury and is also listed as questionable.
Already without their best pass-rusher, J.J. Watt, the Texans can’t afford to face Luck without their two best coverage players. On the bright side, Jadeveon Clowney is finally on the field and has been making an impact (two sacks, 16 tackles). Even without Watt, the defense still ranks 13th in scoring and sixth in total defense – first against the pass, and 25th against the rush. But they have now allowed teams to put up more than 300 total yards in back-to-back weeks after keeping their first three opponents under that number.
Although this may turn into a shootout, and I have a lot more confidence in Andrew Luck than I do Brock Osweiler, I just can’t back the Colts’ defense. Osweiler and the offense so desperately need a breakout week, and this is the time for it. Luck will keep his team within striking distance, but is still dealing with the league’s best pass defense.
Pick: Texans (-3)
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