Colts vs. Texans Odds & Picks: Indianapolis Should Cover With Ease
Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Zach Pascal, Philip Rivers
Colts vs. Texans Odds
Having won four of their last five games, the Indianapolis Colts enter Week 15 at 9-4, tied atop the AFC South with the Tennessee Titans.
One of those wins was against their Week 15 opponent: The Houston Texans. But can this struggling Texans team play spoiler against the red-hot Colts? With a 7-point spread, it seems unlikely. In fact, there could be value on the favorites to cover.
The Texans enter this game with a myriad of players not making the trip: Running backs Duke Johnson (neck) and C.J. Prosise (ankle) as well as cornerbacks Phillip Gaines (knee) and John Reid (neck) will not play, while safety Lonnie Johnson (knee) is questionable.
Deshaun Watson was roughed up in the Texans’ 36-7 loss to the Bears last week. He threw for only 219 yards and was sacked six times, bringing that total to 11 sacks over the past two games.
Operating without No. 1 wide receiver Will Fuller (suspended) for the rest of the season, the Texans are desperately relying on a returning Brandin Cooks bolstering a stalling passing attack. Houston’s receivers were led by the undistinguished Chad Hansen last week, with seven receptions for only 56 yards, though he did have 101 receiving yards in Week 13 against Indianapolis.
There’s growing frustration with tight end Jordan Akins, who has dropped several potential touchdown passes over the past few games.
Meanwhile, running back David Johnson returns from the reserve/COVID-19 list but gets a tough matchup with the Colts’ strong run defense. Houston will be relying on DJ heavily without Duke Johnson. But while David Johnson’s versatility could prove very valuable, the 29-year-old has failed to top 100 total yards since Week 5.
The Texans’ 30th-ranked defense in Football Outsiders’ DVOA will struggle to contain the Colts at home, and Houston’s 29th-ranked run defense will need the best performance of its season. Indy ran the ball on 52.5% of plays in last week’s win and project for a positive game script as a touchdown favorite.
The Colts are relatively healthy entering Week 15, with just three players listed as questionable. The biggest concern is defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, who suffered an ankle injury in practice on Thursday and didn’t practice on Friday. Tight end Mo Alie-Cox returned to practice on Friday, and left tackle Anthony Castonzo was able to log two full practices this week, suggesting he’s good to go for this game.
In Indy’s 26-20 win over Houston in Week 13, the Colts offense was clicking in both phases. Running back Jonathan Taylor tallied 91 rushing yards on an impressive 7.0 yards per carry while Philip Rivers threw for 285 yards and two touchdowns. Both performances were even more impressive considering the absence of Castonzo.
Taylor has taken hold of this backfield with three consecutive top-12 fantasy RB performances, including last week’s overall RB2 performance. He’s also shown surprising efficiency in the receiving game.
Jonathan Taylor receiving
🔹 31 targets
🔹 31 catches
Taylor is the only NFL player with a 100% catch rate (min. 25+ targets) 🤯 pic.twitter.com/Oh14y7YMyg
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) December 18, 2020
Now Taylor has a dream matchup against a Texans rush defense that has allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs and the most rushing yards of any team this season. Houston has also allowed the fourth-most receiving yards, setting up nicely for both Taylor and satellite back Nyheim Hines.
Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton has been one of the NFL’s hottest receivers with consecutive fantasy WR6 and WR5 performances over the past two weeks. He also has four touchdown catches over the Colts’ past three games. Along with rookie Michael Pittman, the Indianapolis receiving duo should see a repeat of their combined 13-reception, 156-yard and one-touchdown performance from the first matchup against Houston.
The foundation of a strong Colts defense is their run-stopping efficiency — they’ve allowed the 10th-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs even while playing a few games shorthanded.
The Colts pass defense has been strong as well, ranking sixth-best in pass DVOA.
I’m taking the Colts at home to dominate both sides of the ball and win comfortably. The shaky Houston offensive line will allow pressure throughout the game, and the Texans run defense will be no match for the Taylor ground attack.
I like the Colts at -7 and would bet them up to -8.
Pick: Colts -7