Well, this Thursday night game got a lot less interesting thanks to the Indianapolis Colts.
Really, the only intrigue here would have been that the Colts were winless and playing their final home game (could it be the final game on the Colts’ home sideline for Peyton Manning?). But Indianapolis ruined that by beating Tennessee, 27-13, on Sunday to assure that it won’t join the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only teams to go 0-16 in a season.
Ironically, Indy’s QB in Sunday’s win was Dan Orlovsky, who just so happened to be on that winless Lions team. Not to really credit Orlovsky, considering he was 11-for-17 for 82 yards.
He had as many NFL wins in his career as you and I before Sunday: Orlovsky had been 0-9 in his previous NFL starts. In fact, it was Orlovsky's first win as a starting quarterback (not counting preseason) since he led Connecticut to a 39-10 victory over Toledo in the Motor City Bowl in Detroit on Dec. 27, 2004.
It was the franchise’s first win in 14 years without Manning under center. And for what it’s worth, Sunday was the third time in NFL history in which a team that was at least 10-0 lost and a team at least 0-10 lost on the same day (unbeaten Packers having lost at Kansas City).
Indy better be careful here because it could now blow a chance to get Andrew Luck with the No. 1 overall pick as now the Vikings and Rams are just a game “behind” the Colts in the draft pecking order. Both Minnesota and St. Louis seem set at quarterback but certainly could trade that top pick.
Houston still has some motivation here. The Texans already own the AFC South title but still are in a battle for a Top Two seed in the AFC.
Sunday’s 28-13 home loss to Carolina was potentially very costly, however. That ended Houston’s seven-game win streak and dropped the Texans from No. 1 in the AFC to No. 3.
Texans at Colts Betting Story Lines
Houston didn’t look right Sunday without defensive coordinator Wade Phillips (on medical leave), and he won’t be on the sideline for this one either.
The Texans were down 21-0 at the half and allowed more than 20 points at home for the first time since a 25-20 loss to Oakland in Week 5. A defense that allowed 11.1 points in seven home games surrendered four touchdowns and the most points of any game at Reliant Stadium this season. Houston didn’t force a turnover for the first time this season.
And QB T.J. Yates finally resembled the fifth-round rookie he is, going 19-for-30 for 212 yards, no touchdowns and two picks.
Turnovers have become a problem for Houston. That makes seven in the last two games and nine in the last four. In the first 10 games with Matt Schaub in control, the Texans turned the ball over just nine times.
Yates on Sunday didn’t have star receiver Andre Johnson, who missed yet another game with a hamstring injury. And don’t look for him to be ready in this quick turnaround game. Houston’s priority is to make sure Johnson is ready for the playoffs.
Look for a major dose of Arian Foster and Ben Tate here against the Indy No. 28 rush defense. In Houston’s Week 1 34-7 win over the Colts, Tate had 116 yards and a TD on 24 carries with Foster out with an injury.
Johnson had seven catches for 95 yards. Of course, that game ended Manning’s streak of 227 consecutive starts.
Schaub was just mediocre in the game, throwing for 220 yards, a TD and two picks, while Colts QB Kerry Collins led the Indy offense to only 236 yards.
The game was 34-0 at the half, the most points Houston scored in team history in a half. It was the first time Indy was held scoreless in a half since Sept. 14, 2008. So that’s pretty much when Colts fans knew what they were in for this season.
Texans at Colts Betting Odds and Trends
Houston opened as a six-point favorite with the total at 41 on NFL odds.
The Texans are 9-4-1 ATS this season and 5-2 ATS on road. Indy is 5-9 ATS overall and 2-5 at home. "Over/under" records: HOU 5-9, IND 7-7.
The Texans are 2-1 ATS after a loss. The Colts are 2-4 ATS as home dog. The Texans are 4-0 ATS in AFC South Division games. They are 3-0 ATS as a road favorite this year.
NFL Predictions: Texans at Colts Betting Preview
Any past trends on this series are worthless—Indy is 16-3 all time vs. Houston—because they all bank on Manning.
Last week’s results make this a trickier game to pick now in my opinion. Do the Colts use the momentum to end the season strong? Or with the monkey off their back, do they now really mail it in? Does Houston really miss Phillips that much?
Not having Johnson again definitely plays a big role, but I think Houston wins, 24-14, so take the Texans and the "under" in what could be a very ugly passing game.
Doc Moseman is the owner of Doc's Sports football picks Web site.