Houston Texans (0-3) at Indianapolis Colts (1-2)
The Texans, a trendy Super Bowl pick at the start of the season, have begun the year 0-3. They’ve been better than their record suggests though, as all 3 losses were close. Last week’s upset loss to the Giants is concerning, but they lost week 1 in New England and lost week 2 in Tennessee because of a fake punt, in a game in which they won the first down rate battle by 7.27%. On the season, they are just -0.07% in first down rate differential, much better than their record suggests, and it’s likely they’ll improve going forward, as Deshaun Watson continues to work back from his ACL tear.
They have a good shot at their first win this week in Indianapolis. The Colts have gotten surprisingly decent play from an inexperienced defense, but their offense has been sluggish and overall they rank 27th in first down rate differential at -3.75%. Their offense could improve going forward as Andrew Luck continues to work back from shoulder surgery, but they remain without starting left tackle Anthony Castonzo and are now without starting right tackle Joe Haeg, so I would expect them to continue struggling at least until Castonzo returns. On defense, it remains to be seen if they can continue playing at the level they’ve been playing.
I wish we were getting more line value with the Texans, who are mere 1.5 point underdogs on the road here in Indianapolis, but they’re in a great spot. Not only are they desperate for their first win, but they don’t have any upcoming distractions, with only a home game against the Cowboys on deck. The Colts, meanwhile, have to turn around and go to New England on a short week for Thursday Night Football. Not only are favorites 48-68 ATS since 2012 before Thursday Night Football, but favorites are 72-120 ATS, over that same time period, before being underdogs when their opponent will next be favorites. The Colts could easily get caught looking forward to next week a little bit. The Texans are worth a small bet this week.
Houston Texans 20 Indianapolis Colts 17 Upset Pick +100
Pick against the spread: Houston +1.5