After last Thursday night’s trip to the ‘hood aka Cleveland, also known as I-Don’t-Believe-He-Hit-Him-with-a-Helmet-Land, this Thursday’s contest should be a bit more G-rated.
That doesn’t mean it won’t be full of suspense. The AFC South Division title is on the line as both Indianapolis and Houston enter Week 12 with identical 6-4 records. Indy has won five of the last six against the Texans and the last three straight. That doesn’t mean they roll on Thursday.
The Colts ran roughshod over Jacksonville last week. Indianapolis gained 264 yards on the ground against the Jags. Marlon Mack had 109 yards on 14 carries, but the team’s leading rusher injured his hand and had to leave the game.
Jonathan Williams came on and picked up the slack also surpassing the 100-yard mark (116) on his 13 carries. Because of the hand injury, Mack will not play on Thursday night.
The other problem for the Colts is the status of WR T.Y. Hilton, who has missed the last three games with a calf injury. Hilton has been upgraded to questionable for Thursday and the Colts could surely use him. The eight-year veteran would be a huge boost as he has enjoyed previous success against Houston.
In 15 games against the Texans, Hilton has 82 receptions for 1,519 yards, and 10 touchdowns. Indianapolis beat Houston just four weeks ago. In that victory, Hilton caught six passes for 74 yards and had one touchdown catch. If Hilton doesn’t play, Colts QB Jacoby Brissett will be without two of his biggest weapons.
The Texans, on the other hand, were humbled last week when they lost to Baltimore 41-7. Ravens QB Lamar Jackson was simply too much to handle and the Baltimore defense had a field day against Houston’s offensive line and QB Deshaun Watson.
It was one of Watson’s poorest games as a pro. He completed 18-of-29 passes for 169 yards, was sacked seven times, and committed two turnovers.
Watson likely won’t repeat that performance. He will also have the services of WR DeAndre Hopkins. For the season, nearly 63 percent of all of Hopkins’ catches have resulted in a first down. In the previous game against Indy just four weeks ago, Hopkins caught nine passes for 106 yards and a touchdown.
Of the last 10 meetings between the Colts and Texans, only one (played last year) has been decided by more than nine points. Eight of those games have come down to a single touchdown.
The Colts and Texans are both good football teams and will likely play a close game, but how close?
A quick look at the total (46) just doesn’t do anything for me. I know that five of the last seven Colts-Texans games have gone Under as have seven of Houston’s last eight home games. But, the average combined score in those games is nearly 44 points.
Yes, Houston gave up seven sacks last week and the Colts have Justin Houston, who has eight sacks on the season and has recorded at least one sack in each of the last six games. Still, both teams have offenses that can score…often.
No, I think where we are headed is here. Indianapolis has covered the spread in two of the past three games in which they have played as a road dog. The Colts are also 6-0 ATS in the past six against the AFC South and 6-0-1 ATS in the last seven against Houston on the road.
A native of Western Pennsylvania, Rick, a Generation X-er, who now lives just north of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan. A former high school, college, and professional football player, Rick now spends his time as a high school coach and as a personal quarterback trainer. An all-state high school quarterback, he went on to become an Academic All-American at Division II Indiana University of PA. He later coached at his alma mater helping lead the program to the 1990 NCAA Division II national championship game. Rick has also served as a high school head coach and as an assistant in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.
His passion for sports writing started when he was the sports editor for his high school newspaper and continued when he worked as a sportswriter for the Jamestown (New York) Post-Journal in the early 1990s. A true sports fanatic, Rick enjoys all things Pittsburgh: Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. The Immaculate Reception, the 1979 We Are Family Pirates, and the ’91-’92 Penguins are among his favorites. After working as an educator and athletic director for several years, he again took up sports writing and has contributed to several websites and publications, including Coach & Player magazine, X & O Labs, American Football Monthly, and many others.
When not consumed with coaching, watching, thinking about, or writing about football and other seasonal sports, he finds himself working out like he was still in college and reading everything from military history to Brad Thor novels. Rick has also been chasing rock god stardom as a drummer who has played with bands that have opened for the likes of Fuel, Days of the New, and Alien Ant Farm. He continues to play with his church worship group. Most importantly, Rick is married to the love of his life, Lisa, and has two beautiful daughters.