25* Colts/Texans NFL Thursday Night GAME OF THE YEAR on Indianapolis +7
Houston vs. Indianapolis,
12/22/2011 20:20 EDT,
Score: 16 - 19
Point Spread: +7/-115 Indianapolis
The Indianapolis Colts have been a completely different team since Dan Orlovsky took over at quarterback. The Colts are a perfect 3-0 ATS in his three starts, which have come against some very good competition in the New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans.
Now battle-tested, the Colts will give the Houston Texans a run for their money tonight. Houston would certainly like to improve their seeding in the AFC, but the fact of the matter is this team is just happy to be in the playoffs. That showed last week with an upset home loss to the Carolina Panthers.
I took the Panthers last week as my 25* NFL UPSET GAME OF THE YEAR knowing it was a huge letdown spot for Houston. I find it hard to believe that the Texans are going to come back with a much better effort tonight considering they are already in the playoffs. Even if they do, Houston is short-handed and they simply aren't the same team they were a month ago with Matt Shaub as their starting quarterback.
The Texans are down to third-stringer T.J. Yates, who had played admirably, but they are limited offensively with him under center. Plus, he doesn't have top wideout Andre Johnson, who will miss his third straight game with a hamstring injury. This is a very one-dimensional team right now which makes slowing down their offense easy for opposing defenses.
The Colts will be able to stack eight in the box to try and shut down Arian Foster and Ben Tate. Houston has scored 20 points or less in four straight games now, so it's clear that their offense is not what it once was earlier in the season. While they do have a solid defense, they have been without defensive coordinator Wade Phillips as he has taken a medical leave of absence. Houston gave up 28 points to Carolina without Phillips last week.
Indianapolis is finally starting to be more two-dimensional offensively, which is making them a much more efficient team. The Colts rushed for a whopping 205 yards on the Titans last week en route to a 27-13 victory. They have also been stout against the run here of late, giving up only 95.0 rushing yards/game in their last three.
This play falls into a system that is 34-11 (75.6%) ATS since 1983. It tells us to bet against road favorites (HOUSTON) - after covering the spread in 6 or 7 out of their last 8 games, a good team (60% to 75%) playing a team with a losing record.
Indianapolis is a perfect 9-0 in nine home games versus Houston all-time. I'll gladly back this 100% never-lost system tonight with a live underdog. Bet the Colts Thursday.