The Houston Texans host the Indianapolis Colts tonight in a game that will determine sole possession of first place in the AFC South Division. Both teams come into play tonight with six wins and four losses.
There is always a little more pressure on teams playing in division games where a Wild Card berth seems remote. The AFC South Division will probably only be sending one team into the dozen teams qualifying for postseason play, that being the division winner. From where I sit, the probable division winner in the AFC South is the Colts, the visitors tonight.
That doesn’t mean they are necessarily a good bet in this game even getting the 3½ points on the spread.
Two of the Colts most explosive offensive weapons, runningback Marlon Mack and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, are fighting injuries. Mack will not play tonight, Hilton is iffy at best.
The second element working against the Colts is being a road team on a short work week. Additionally, the Colts are coming off a lopsided win, 33-13, over the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Texans a one-sided loss, 41-7, against the Baltimore Ravens. Those factors all favor the home team tonight.
The public is backing the home team Texans tonight, nearly 60% of the individual wagers on this game are siding with the home team.
I can see Houston taking advantage of the home field on a Thursday night and gaining a motivational edge based on preparing off a loss while the Colts are following that big victory.
So, why am I not just following the crowd and backing Houston?
I like everything about the Colts this season. When their expected starting quarterback, Andrew Luck, was forced to end his career due to ongoing health issues during the preseason, they got a boost motivationally for the entire season. Jacoby Brissett, who stepped in for Luck, is capable of leading a well coached, by Frank Reich, Indianapolis squad.
The Colts have lost some tough games this season, an opening day overtime defeat to the Chargers on opening day and a two-point loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers three weeks ago. They also got beat by the talent challenged Miami Dolphins, 16-12, in a game Brissett missed with an injury.
In other words, what we know from these results is that the Colts are thin. If a front line player is out, they are vulnerable to any team in the league.
Brissett is back for this game, as he was in last week’s win over the Jaguars, but without his full cast of characters, tonight’s game turns into a viewing exercise as opposed to a viable wagering opportunity.