Indianapolis Colts (7-4) at Houston Texans (4-7)
The Colts are 7-4, but there are reasons for concern. For one, they’ve faced a pretty easy schedule thus far this season. In fact, in terms of first down rate differential, the Colts have faced the easiest schedule in the league. With that in mind, their 7-4 record isn’t as impressive. In schedule adjusted first down rate differential, the Colts are about a middling team, ranking 16th at +0.20%. On top of that, they’ve been a better defensive team than offensive team, ranking 11th in first down rate allowed over expected, but just 20th in first down rate over expected, which is a concern because offensive play tends to be more consistent week-to-week.
The Colts are also starting to lose key players to injury and illness after being relatively healthy through the first half of the season. Last week, they missed defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and center Ryan Kelly against the Titans and, while both will be back this week, the Colts now have lost left tackle Anthony Castonzo, which is also a big blow. The Texans, who the Colts face this week, are missing some key players as well, losing top wide receiver Will Fuller and top cornerback Bradley Roby to suspension, but my roster rankings still have the Colts just 2.5-3 points better than the Texans, giving us a calculated line of Indianapolis -1, with the Texans at least having some fans in attendance for this one.
I locked this line in at 3.5 earlier this week and, while 2.5 points might not seem like a huge deal, it’s a bigger deal than you might think, as about 1 in 4 games are decided by 1-3 points. The Texans are also in a better spot, as the Colts have a game that will be very important for their playoff implications on deck, in Las Vegas against the Raiders, while the Texans have a relatively meaningless out of conference game in Chicago. I like the Texans a lot at 3.5 and, even if you didn’t lock this line in at 3.5, I would recommend a smaller bet at 3 as well. The money line is also worth betting as well, as the Texans could easily pull the upset.
Houston Texans 24 Indianapolis Colts 23 Upset Pick +150
Pick against the spread: Houston +3.5