Indianapolis Colts (10-6) at Houston Texans (11-5)
NFL: Saturday, January 5th, 2019 at 4:35 pm ET (NRG Stadium)
Spread: Houston -1.5
Free ESPN NFL Picks Houston Texans vs Indianapolis Colts
The NFL playoffs will kick off Saturday afternoon with 6th seed Indianapolis visiting AFC South division foe and 3rd seed Houston for round number three. These two split their in-season meetings, with victories going to the road dog in games decided by field goals. Both clubs had rocky beginnings but eventually usurped, at the time, the 3-1 south favorite Jacksonville Jaguars and shifted power toward their direction.
The Colts ended their regular season on a high note, clinching the final AFC wildcard spot in convincing fashion. They picked up their last win, 33-17, in Tennesee and if there’s anything to especially highlight, it’s the play of a few impact players who finished strong down the final stretch. The first is the obvious in Andrew Luck. If there’s any way to cap a remarkable campaign, it’s passing for 285 yards and 3 touchdowns. Luck is finally playing healthy and is back in prime form. 39 passing touchdowns ranks him second in the NFL. T.Y. Hilton’s an extension of the passing game and is Luck’s lead target. Despite a minor ankle hindrance in recent weeks restricting much of his impact in the culminating game, he was key to Indianapolis’ success towards the end. Consider the fact that in the final four weeks, Hilton amounted to 443 yards receiving, a third of his season total!
Marlon Mack is back playing healthy after an injury kept him on the sideline to start the season. The running game’s helped balance the offense and no where else is this more apparent than in Indianapolis’ last few games. Mack arguably played his two best games towards the end. The first was against what many considered the best NFL defense at the time in Dallas. He amassed a season high 139 yards rushing and matched a season high total two rushing touchdowns. Then in Tennesee, Mack racked up 119 yards on 25 carries with one touchdown. Of equal performance in that Dallas matchup and in their final 3 game split is the Colts’ defense. The Cowboys were shut out in varying degrees. Indianapolis stopped Dallas four times on 4th down and Dallas could not capitalize during their red zone opportunities. The defensive stops are something of a trend and what could factor into their wildcard game. In their final victory, Tennessee was 1-9 in 3rd down conversions. Also, NFL leader in tackles–Darius Leonard–plays defense for the Colts.
Houston also finished out their season off strong with a statement win versus Jacksonville, 20-3. Like the Colts, they’ve turned on the afterburners since starting slow. While two losses of late may wave caution, the Texans aren’t winded and have kept up the momentum. In their losses, they only have a -20 point differential. Their largest loss was by a touchdown. Their most recent loss was to red hot Philadelphia by a mere two points. Houston’s offense depends a lot on Deshaun Watson’s playmaking abilities and this part of Houston’s offense is trending way up. Big plays came often against the Jets in week 15 with Watson’s favorite target, D’Andre Hopkins. The pair connected in the end zone twice including a long 45 yarder. The Texans came up short versus Philadelphia, but Watson played resilient throwing two touchdowns that combined for 55 yards.
Watson’s running game does keep the defense honest and he ran for 66 yards against Jacksonville in their final game. This is something that’s been trending up in the last four weeks as Watson’s their leading rusher in that span with 176. And what better time to show up than now. Defensively, Houston has many stars. JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney head a heavy front seven. Also trending up is their red zone defense. They’ve kept their opponents at bay in red zone scoring and allow few chances. The Texans feature the third best red zone scoring attempt defense.
Indianapolis is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games when playing on the road against Houston
Indianapolis is 6-3 ATS in its last 9 games on the road
Houston is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games at home
Houston is 0-4-1 ATS in its last 5 games when playing at home against Indianapolis
ESPN NFL Scores Indianapolis Colts vs Houston Texans.
We’ll have yet another close game as the computers project. There are many intriguing matchups and these teams are nearly identical. Both have two elite wideouts and tough hitting defenses. Their quarterbacks have powerful arms and throw a lot! There are a few outliers, however. Indianapolis has multiple injuries, especially to the offensive line but they’ve managed to adjust and keep Luck safely in the pocket. Houston has a few more weaknesses. Recently in their last 3 games, they’ve been trending down in 3rd down scoring, 3rd down prevention, and red zone scoring. Lastly, the offensive line has continued in struggling to protect Watson.
Pick: Colts +3