AFC South foes will clash on Sunday afternoon when the Houston Texans visit the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Houston is coming off a heartbreaking 25-22 loss to the New England Patriots last Sunday as an eight-point home underdog to fall to 1-4 on the season. Indianapolis is also off to a 1-4 start after losing 31-25 to the Baltimore Ravens in overtime as a 7.5-point road underdog on Monday night.
The Colts have historically dominated this divisional rivalry with a 30-9 advantage all-time, including a sweep of the Texans last year with both games being decided by one score.
Texans can't hang on as upset bid falls apartHouston had a great chance to pull off a shocking win over the Patriots last week with a two-score lead in the second half, but it couldn't finish the job and now has lost four straight since the season opener. Antony Auclair opened the scoring on a touchdown catch at the 4:45 mark of the first quarter before Chris Moore and Chris Conley each scored on long touchdown passes from Davis Mills to give the Texans a 22-9 lead just over a minute into the second half, but that would be it for the offense and New England gradually battled back to kick the game-winning field goal as time expired.
Mills had one of the best performances by a rookie quarterback against a Bill Belichick defense ever, completing 21 of 29 pass attempts for 312 yards and three touchdowns. Moore was his top target with five catches for 109 yards and the long touchdown. Houston finished with a narrow 360-352 advantage in total yards, but was undone by special teams miscues including two missed extra points, a missed field goal in the fourth quarter, and a botched punt.
"I think we just had a really good game plan going into the game, mixing it up, a lot of different looks, a lot of shifts and motions," Mills said to Houston's official website about his standout performance. "We really had the defense guessing, and I felt like we were just moving the ball very efficiently."
Houston is now 3-2 against the spread for the season, including a Week 1 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars as an underdog before keeping close against the heavily favored Cleveland Browns the following game. Overs are also 3-2 for the Texans after last weekend's game cleared the very low betting total of 39 points.
Despite being more competitive than most expected, the stats aren't pretty for the Texans on either side of the ball, with the offense putting up 17.8 points and 282.6 yards per game. Houston's defense is also ranked in the bottom five, with opponents racking up 28.2 points and 391.8 yards per contest.
Unexpectedly pressed into action after Tyrod Taylor's injury, Mills has completed 59 of his 96 pass attempts for 669 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions. Veteran Mark Ingram II is Houston's leading rusher with 68 carries for 212 yards and a score, while Brandin Cooks has brought in 31 receptions for 392 yards and a touchdown. Christian Kirksey is having a big year to lead the Houston defense with 39 tackles including three for a loss, four pass breakups, an interception and a fumble recovery.
Taylor remains week-to-week with a hamstring injury and won't play on Sunday. Left tackle Laremy Tunsil will miss at least four weeks after undergoing thumb surgery on Thursday, joining fellow offensive lineman Marcus Cannon (back) on injured reserve. Center Justin Britt is also questionable after missing practice this week with a knee injury. Running back Rex Burkhead (hip), tight end Pharaoh Brown (shoulder), linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill (hip) and corner Desmond King II (hip) are all questionable. Linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis (hamstring), wide receiver Nico Collins (shoulder) and defensive tackle Vincent Taylor (ankle) are other Texans on injured reserve.
Colts falling out of contention after blowing big leadThe Colts were on the verge of a second straight win last Monday night to climb right back into contention in the weak AFC South, but are now reeling after blowing a 22-3 lead well into the second half against the Ravens. Jonathan Taylor opened the scoring on a 76-yard touchdown catch just two minutes into the game before later scoring on a four-yard run to give Indianapolis the 19-point cushion with 3:03 to go in the third quarter before Baltimore's Lamar Jackson took over to spark the huge rally, as the Ravens tied the game with 39 seconds left and marched right down the field in overtime for the win.
JT SAID SEE YA. 👋— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) October 12, 2021
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Carson Wentz turned in his best performance of the season, completing 25 of 35 pass attempts for 402 yards and two touchdowns. Taylor racked up 169 total yards and two scores on just 18 touches, while Michael Pittman Jr. had six catches for 89 yards and a touchdown. The Colts piled up 513 yards of total offense but were still outgained, as Jackson went for 442 yards through the air while going 37/43 passing.
"Yeah, not a fun loss," Wentz said to Indianapolis' official website. "I talked to everyone after the game and said, 'Hey, we've got to have a killer instinct at the end of the day. And that goes for me and goes for all of us. We've got to be able to finish games and put teams away when we've got them on the ropes like that."
Indianapolis is now 3-2 against the spread this season and has covered in three of its last four games including a comfortable outright win against the Miami Dolphins as a slight underdog. Overs are also 3-2 for the Colts, with both of their last two games going over the betting total.
That was a standout performance for a Colts offense that has struggled overall with an average of 21.6 points and 363.4 yards per game. Indianapolis' defense has also fallen well short of preseason expectations, with opponents putting up 25.6 points and 369.2 yards per contest.
Wentz has battled through injuries to complete 113 of 173 pass attempts for 1,322 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception while adding 73 yards on the ground. Taylor is having a strong sophomore campaign with 524 total yards and three touchdowns on 87 touches, while Pittman Jr. is the top receiver with 29 catches for 368 yards and a score. Star linebacker Darius Leonard is having another monster year with 38 tackles including two for loss, one interception, one forced fumble, three fumble recoveries and four pass breakups.
The Colts have been without one of the best players in all of football, as guard Quenton Nelson is on injured reserve with an ankle problem. Leonard also didn't practice this week with ankle and shoulder injuries, leaving his status for Sunday in question. The kicking situation is uncertain after Rodrigo Blakenship suffered a hip injury on Monday night. Indianapolis could be down some starters in the secondary, with Xavier Rhodes (concussion), Andrew Sendejo (concussion) and Rock Ya-Sin (ankle) all missing practice this week. Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (neck), linebacker Jordan Glasgow (concussion), offensive lineman Sam Tevi (undisclosed) and safety Nick Nelson (undisclosed) are among the other Colts on injured reserve.
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It's been a disappointing start for the injury-riddled Colts, and this is a game that they can't overlook as Houston has given a couple of better teams a scare this season. Indianapolis' limited offense won't be able to build a big enough lead to cover this large spread, and Mills will play with enough confidence to lead the Texans after his great performance a week ago.
The Colts have not been able to get things going offensively with 5.6 yards per play this season to rank in the bottom 10 in the NFL, as Wentz is far from the most consistently reliable quarterback and the makeshift offensive line hasn't been able to hold up with multiple starters missing time. On the other side, Mills' overall numbers are held back due to a disastrous game against a Buffalo Bills defense that is steamrolling everyone, but he's looked like a solid enough quarterback otherwise and averaging 11.1 yards per attempt with three touchdowns and no turnovers against New England should give the Texans a lot of optimism about the rookie signal-caller moving forward.
Injuries to Indianapolis' best player on both sides of the ball in Nelson and Leonard won't help the situation, and playing after a deflating Monday night loss on the road is always a tough situation for any team. Houston has it least shown it will play hard under first-year head coach David Culley even while being outmatched in terms of talent, and Indianapolis is not a good enough team to warrant a double-digit spread.
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Indianapolis' defense is far more talented than its scoring numbers would indicate as it has faced a brutal schedule of opposing offenses including Seattle, Tennessee and the Los Angeles Rams in addition to Baltimore last week, and the unit shut down the only bad opponent it has faced in Miami. As impressive as Mills was last week, this is still a tough defensive front for a rookie to face, and the Texans' complete inability to run the ball won't' help.
The turnovers will always remain a concern for Wentz as he has fumbled two more times this season to bring his career total to 60 over five-plus years in the NFL, and the complete question mark at kicker could also hurt Indianapolis' ability to score in this game. Expect more of a slugfest here, as neither offense is good or consistent enough to clear this total despite what both showed last week.