The Houston Texans (11-5) will host the Indianapolis Colts (10-6) in the opener of Saturday’s Wild Card double-header. Kickoff is set for 4:35 EST at NRG Stadium and will be televised nationally on ESPN and ABC.
Oddsmakers opened up this game with the Texans as a 1-point home favorite. That line has stayed the same after early betting, as Houston is still available at -1. The total is currently listed as 48 points.
Vegas Game Odds & Betting Preview: Texans vs Colts
Indianapolis certainly turned things around in a big hurry after a dreadful 1-5 start to their season, winning nine out of their next ten game to clinch a spot in Wild Card weekend. The Colts went a perfect 4-0 down the stretch, beating Houston, Dallas, New York, and Tennessee to finish the regular season at 10-6 overall. QB Andrew Luck was fantastic, passing for 4,593 yards and 39 touchdowns after struggling mightily over the past several years. He also had a quarterback rating of 98.7, which was well above his career average. On the ground, RB Marlon Mack really made huge strides in his second season as a pro, rushing for 908 yards and nine touchdowns while adding another 100 yards and a score in the receiving game. WR T.Y. Hilton also had an impressive year, especially in the second half of the season – he racked up a team-leading 76 receptions for 1,270 yards and six touchdowns in just 14 games. Overall, Indianapolis averaged 27.1 points per game during the regular season (5th overall).
Although they certainly weren’t quite as impressive on the other side of the ball, the Colts were still fairly solid defensively this year. Opponents were only able to average 21.5 points per game (10th overall). Indianapolis was especially strong against the run, giving up only 101.6 rushing yards per game (8th overall).
Houston clinched the AFC South after winning 11 out of 13 games to close out the season, including a stretch from late September to early December where they went a perfect 9-0. The Texans were almost flawless during the final week of the regular season against Jacksonville, beating the Jags 20-3 to lock up the division title. QB Deshaun Watson had a very impressive year, throwing for 4,165 yards and 26 touchdowns. He also put up big numbers on the ground, rushing for 551 yards and 5 touchdowns. Watson certainly had a ton of help from WR DeAndre Hopkins, who caught 115 passes for 1,572 yards and 11 touchdowns. RB Lamar Miller led the way on the ground, rushing for 973 yards and 5 touchdowns. As a whole, Houston averaged 25.1 points per game (11th overall) during the regular season.
The Texans were very solid defensively this year, holding opponents to just 19.8 points per game (4th overall). They were especially good against the run, surrendering an average of only 82.7 yards per game on the ground (3rd overall).
NFL Betting Free Pick & Vegas Predictions: Indianapolis +1
This should easily be one of the most entertaining games on the schedule this weekend, as this matchup between two longtime AFC South rivals should be extremely competitive for four quarters. This could easily come down to a last-second field goal during regulation or even require overtime, as nine out of the last ten meetings between these two teams have been decided by a touchdown or less. After going back and forth a little bit, I’m leaning towards the Colts in this particular spot. While they only averaged about two more points per game than Houston during the regular season, they were incredibly efficient on offense. In fact, they ranked 4th overall in touchdown efficiency at 28.3% after scoring 52 TD’s on 183 possessions. The Texans were much less efficient, scoring only 38 TD’s on 186 possessions.
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Indianapolis was also better against the spread on the road than at home this year, going 5-3 ATS away from Lucas Oil Stadium. The Texans were hardly anything special at home either, going just 4-4 ATS in eight games at NRG Stadium. Houston is also only 7-12-2 ATS in their last 21 games overall.
It is also worth noting how well the Colts have done in this series as of late, going a near-perfect 5-0-1 ATS in their last six meetings with Houston on the road and 8-3-2 ATS in their last 13 meetings overall. I’m fully expecting both of those trends to continue on Saturday, so I’m going to take a stab with the slight road underdog – give me Indianapolis to prevail in a thriller.