Indianapolis (2-2) at Houston (1-3)
When: Thursday, October 8th 2015
Where: NRG Stadium, Houston, TX
Time: 8:25 ET
TV: CBS Radio: XM 226, 225, 88
The Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans kick off Week 5 of the NFL season on Thursday Night Football. This is a big game for Houston if they want to stay in the AFC South race. A loss would drop them two games behind the Colts and obviously they wouldn’t own the tiebreaker. Houston coach Bill O’Brien let off some steam after last week’s embarrassing 48-21 loss in Atlanta in which they were down 42-0 at one point. He replaced starting QB Ryan Mallett with Brian Hoyer in the third quarter after benching Hoyer after Week 1 in favor of Mallett. Now, coming into this season, the Texans had questions at quarterback, but what O’Brien is doing by going back and forth is not good. Hoyer has the better stats right now, but it appears O’Brien thinks Mallett is the answer right now. Mallett has completed only 51.8% of his passes and has 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions and a QB rating of 65.3. One thing that can help the quarterback play is a better running game. Arian Foster came back last week from his groin surgery, but only managed 10 yards on 8 carries. He’s expected to get a bigger workload as the weeks go on. I expect him to be a factor tonight as the Colts are 25th in the league at stopping the run. Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins has been the only bright spot on offense. He has 31 catches, 409 yards, and 3 touchdowns.
The Colts are having their own issues on offense and hope to have QB Andrew Luck back tonight as he missed his first career game last week. Matt Hasselbeck took over last week and beat the Jaguars 16-13. Luck’s injured right shoulder might be why he has struggled so far this year. In three games he’s completing only 56% of his passes and has 7 interceptions. Wide receiver Andre Johnson was a dominant force during a 12-year tenure with the Texans, racking up 1,012 career receptions, but has not caught a pass in his last two games. Running back Frank Gore has also not started well for the Colts. He’s averaging just 57 yards rushing a game, but is averaging 4.2 yards a carry. He needs to get the ball more to help this offense. Last week’s 17 carries were a season high. The Colts defense ranks 27th in the league in yards allowed including 119 a game on the ground. Foster could have a big game tonight. This team will go as far as Luck will take them. He needs to be healthy or it will be a long season in Indianapolis.
Luck has historically fared well against Houston going 5-1 with 14 TD’s and only 3 interceptions. The Colts are also looking to break the 72-73 Dolphins record with their 16th straight division win. With the QB struggles the Texans are going through and the fact that the Colts just don’t lose division games, makes me want to load up on Indianapolis.
Pick: Colts +1.5
Update, Thursday 1:00 ET – Andrew Luck looks doubtful for tonight. The line is now Texans -4.5. We’ll still take the Colts, but suggest you pass on this game