The Texans won just four games last season and they were even worse than that suggests as their only win in which they won the first down rate battle was their week one home victory over a Jaguars team that finished with an even worse record at 3-14. In their other victory over the Jaguars, Texans lost the first down rate battle by 8.02%, only winning the game because they overperformed on third down (10/18 vs. 3/14), which is not as predictive as early downs. In their upset wins over the Chargers and Titans, the Texans won the turnover battle by 3 and 5 respectively, but lost the first down rate battle by 2.86% and 9.47% respectively.
Meanwhile, most of the Texans’ losses were not close, coming by an average of 17.2 points per game, leading to the Texans ranking dead last in overall efficiency, over five points worse than the next closest team, with their defense and offense both ranking dead last in efficiency. They might not have had the worst record in the league last season, but they’re still probably starting from a lower base point than any team in the league. They should be better by default this season, but I would be surprised if they weren’t among the worst teams in the league this season and they’re likely to continue getting blown out by most above average opponents.
It’s unclear if the Colts are an above average opponent though. They finished last season ranked 12th in overall efficiency and upgraded their quarterback situation going from Carson Wentz to Matt Ryan, but they also lost a pair of offensive line starters and will start the season without their top linebacker Shaq Leonard, one of the best players in the league at his position. We’re still getting a little bit of line value with the Colts, calculated as 7.5-point favorites, but not nearly enough for them to be worth betting with any confidence. This is a pick for pick ‘em purposes only.
Indianapolis Colts 24 Houston Texans 16
Pick against the spread: Indianapolis -7