Scott Shapiro's Thursday Night Football preview: Colts vs. Texans

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November 20th, 2019

After a crazy series of results in Week 10, things calmed down a bit in Week 11 in the National Football League. Favorites won 13 of 15 games outright and covered the number in nine of 14 contests, with the Cardinals-49ers game ending in a tough-luck push for Arizona backers.

I once again failed to pop the gate with a loss in Cleveland on Thursday night, but had a strong Sunday at 4-2 ATS. Hopefully I can keep the positive momentum going.

Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans, 8:20 p.m. ET, FOX

Indianapolis Colts
+3.5 (-108)
Over 45.5 (-105)
Houston Texans
-3.5 (-112)
Under 45.5 (-115)
Week 12 gets rolling with a huge matchup in the AFC South, between the Colts and Texans. Indianapolis has won five of six in the series since the start of 2017, including a 30-23 victory at Lucas Oil Stadium in Week 7 to give the Colts the edge in the division. They also handled Houston in last year’s wild-card round, 21-7, behind 148 yards rushing from running back Marlon Mack. Unfortunately for Indianapolis, Mack will miss this game with a broken hand.

It has been an up-and-down season for the Colts, with bad losses at home to the Raiders and Dolphins, but overall head coach Frank Reich has done another great job this season. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett was forced into the starting role with the surprise retirement of Andrew Luck this summer, and he has performed admirably. Brissett does not offer the wow factor Luck did, but he protects the football and gives Indy a shot to win every week.
The Indianapolis defense, led by linebacker Darius Leonard, has quietly been strong in 2019. The Colts have held their opposition to 24 points or fewer in six straight games, including four efforts where they yielded 13 or fewer. They rank 11th in the NFL in pass defense (228.8 yards per game) and ninth in rushing defense (96.8 yards per game). They will have to play well to win in Houston, as they are banged up on offense and will meet a Texans team in a bounce-back spot after an ugly loss Sunday against the Ravens.

Little went right for Houston in its road contest in Baltimore, and like most teams in recent weeks, its defense was shredded by Lamar Jackson. The Ravens posted 263 yards on the ground and scored five offensive touchdowns in their 41-7 rout of the Texans. Much more surprising was the poor performance by the Texans offense, which failed to score a touchdown until midway through the fourth quarter, when the game was completely out of reach.

Quarterback Deshaun Watson struggled mightily in the Week 11 matchup against his former ACC rival and also came out of the game with an ankle injury. He was listed as a full participant on the Texans estimated practice report Monday, but with just a few days to rest, he is certain to be at less than 100%. Watson is a gamer, so he will play through pain, but if he has limited mobility, it will take away from his ability to scramble for first downs and buy time in the pocket. I do not anticipate a ton of success for the Houston offense Thursday.

These two teams moved the ball and scored quite a bit in their first meeting, but I expect this one to be a low-scoring affair. Texan killer T.Y. Hilton has missed the last three games, and his status for Thursday night is uncertain. Indy will also be forced to use backup running backs Jonathan Williams and Jordan Wilkins, with Mack out of the lineup. The Colts still should have some offensive success behind one of the league’s best offensive lines, but the loss of their big playmakers cannot be understated, especially against a defense that knows them well and was embarrassed just a few days ago.

I have been on the Colts several times in this matchup over the past couple seasons, but they are in a tough spot Thursday night. But I do not trust Houston as a favorite against a team that has had its number.

I will pass on a side, and instead will count on conservative game plans from both teams in a relatively low-scoring game that could decide the AFC South.

Pick: Under 45.5

Scott Shapiro’s 2019 NFL record ATS on BetAmerica heading into Week 12: 44-34-1 (Last week: 4-3)