coleryan Posts:13321 Followers:19
On 10/29/2013 06:52 PM in NFL

Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans: Preview and Pick

Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans: Preview and Pick

The Indianapolis Colts are off one of the biggest wins in their franchise history as Andrew Luck took down Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. Now with a bye week to soak in the victory, the team needs to get ready to play the division rival Houston Texans. The Texans have had an awful season but a win over the Colts could get them right back into the thick of things as far of the playoffs are concerned.

Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans Odds

The NFL point spread for this game favors the Colts as the line has opened up as a pick ‘em and has now moved to the Colts (-2.5). This move was spurred by early betting as over 80 percent of the wagering is on the Colts. This is due to the fact that the Texans have struggled so much and have had a change at quarterback, while the Colts are playing great football right now. Check your favorite top rated online sportsbook leading up to kickoff as this line is subject to change.

Texans coach Gary Kubiak announced Monday that Case Keenum, who was the third stringer earlier this season, would start vs. the Colts on Sunday. And Schaub will be Keenum's backup.

Kubiak also said that this rotation is not set for the rest of the season, so presumably if Keenum struggles, it's entirely possible Schaub could return to the lineup. Keenum started in Week 7 vs. the Chiefs and narrowly lost 17-16 while completing 15 of 25 passes for 271 yards and a touchdown. Most importantly, he snapped a five-game streak of a Texans quarterback throwing a pick-6. It will be interesting to see if he can get a win in this crucial game.

The latest football betting trends for this game reveals that the Colts have some interesting winning wagering angles on their side. The Colts are 8-3 against the spread (ATS) in their last 11 games after allowing more than 250 yards passing in their previous game, 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games after allowing less than 90 yards rushing in their previous game and 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games after allowing more than 30 points in their previous game. The Texans are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games after allowing more than 350 total yards in their previous game, 1-7 ATS in their last 8 games overall but the home team is 6-0 ATS in their last 6 meetings.

Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans Pick

With plenty of time to go before the start of the regular season, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to game day.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 9-4-0
coleryan Posts:13321 Followers:19
10/30/2013 11:51 AM

Reliant Stadium will be the same but different. Houston fans will be the same but different. Case Keenum has spent years dealing with ticket requests, but he’s never encountered anything like the flood that will precede his first start as Texans quarterback in the city in which he starred as a Houston Cougar.

Keenum’s in. Matt Schaub’s out. The Texans’ surreal 2013 season has become stranger.
Coach Gary Kubiak on Monday named Keenum the starting quarterback for a potential season-defining AFC South matchup Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts on prime-time national television.

Keenum started Oct. 20 at Kansas City in the Texans’ 17-16 loss, but his promotion followed a leg injury to Schaub. The 10-year veteran is healthy and was a candidate to start against Indy, Kubiak said. Keenum will receive his second consecutive start, though, allowing a former undrafted rookie to lead the Texans and in turn demoting a two-time Pro Bowl QB who less than two months ago was entrenched as the starter.

“I imagine I’ll have a few more goose bumps than I did last week,” said Keenum, who was 15-of-25 for 271 yards, one touchdown and a 110.6 rating against Kansas City. “Obviously, it was a very cool atmosphere last week. But to play in Houston, to play in Reliant, I know this atmosphere. I know what it’s like, and I know Sunday night it’s going to be very special. I’m really excited to play in Houston.”

- An early mentor

Schaub was one of the first pro athletes to call Keenum when he was added by the Texans after his name wasn’t called during the 2012 draft, and Schaub has been supportive of the former third-stringer. Monday, Schaub was left to dissect a move that turned a player who spent all of last year on the practice squad — at times on defense — into the physical and emotional centerpiece of a potential turnaround.

“It’s obviously very disappointing for me after all we’ve been through here and all we’ve accomplished and done,” Schaub said. “But I’m part of the reason we’re in this situation as a football team. It’s his decision. He (Kubiak) is the head coach. As a player and a competitor, I don’t like it. I want to be out there.”

Schaub could be the starter again before the year is out. Kubiak was adamant Keenum’s promotion isn’t a long-term move and that the Texans will evaluate the quarterback position as the season unfolds. But there were enough positives during Keenum’s debut that an underperforming Texans team couldn’t ignore the allure of a second look.

- McNair onboard

“I think he’s a very exciting player with a lot of charisma,” owner Bob McNair said. “He has tremendous confidence. To play that position in this league, you have to have supreme confidence. He does. I think his teammates have confidence in him, too.

“He’s going to make some mistakes, but he’s also going to make some big plays.”

Keenum (6-1, 205) knew for nearly a week he’d start against Indy. He told family members and swore them to secrecy, keeping some people out of the loop if he feared they would leak the news. Schaub also dealt with the change, spending time preparing to be the backup.

Third-string quarterback T.J. Yates said the trio has remained united in the face of the team’s failure and the rotating position battle. Kubiak has let his quarterbacks know at the start of each week where things stood; Schaub and Keenum have pushed each other on the field and in the video room.

- Touchy situation

“I know in certain situations, Case was disappointed, and Matt was disappointed, and I was disappointed,” Yates said. “There’s certain times where we all deal with the disappointment of kind of getting demoted. But we’ve always been supportive of each other. We’re not sitting around sulking.”

Now it’s Keenum’s turn. Keenum, who broke numerous records in his five years at UH, will enter Reliant on Sunday searching for something the Texans haven’t seen since Sept. 15: a win.

“I try to lead by example,” Keenum said. “Naturally, everybody’s going to look to the quarterback. I try to do the right thing on and off the field. I try to be the same person all of the time, be very consistent. I try to be what the team needs me to be, whatever that is. I want to fill that role and do whatever I can to make this team the best possible team it can be.”

  • Last 7 Days Record: 9-4-0
coleryan Posts:13321 Followers:19
10/30/2013 11:52 AM

When the Houston Texans signed a trio of running backs off the street on Monday, it was a tacit admission that Arian Foster's hamstring injury and Ben Tate's four broken ribs might keep the two running backs out of this week's game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Coach Gary Kubiak confirmed as much on Tuesday.

"I'm very concerned," Kubiak said, via the Houston Chronicle. "We understand Ben's situation. I think they're both going to give us everything they can to try and play this week. I don't think we're going to know anything until later in the week, which is probably a good thing."

Tate has said he plans to play Sunday, but that's far from a certainty. Foster is showing improvement after graduating to light running Monday.

In the meantime, Kubiak is preparing Deji Karim, Ray Graham and Dennis Johnson to play in a worst-case scenario.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 9-4-0
coleryan Posts:13321 Followers:19
10/31/2013 02:52 PM

The Indianapolis Colts were expected to be the Houston Texans' most formidable challenger in the AFC South.

There hasn't been much of a challenge, but it's the Colts who are threatening to run away with the division.

The Colts will try to overcome the loss of Reggie Wayne when they head to Houston on Sunday night looking to all but end the Texans' hopes of a third straight division title by handing them a sixth consecutive loss.

Houston (2-5) edged Indianapolis (5-2) by one game for the South title last year, but what seemed like it would be a tight race in 2013 has been anything but.

As the only team in the division above .500, the Colts seem on their way to supplanting the Texans, who are facing a potential six-game slide for the first time since Nov. 6-Dec. 11, 2005.

Indianapolis, though, isn't getting caught up in Houston's recent struggles, which include averaging 12.2 points over the last five games.

"There's a saying - to be the champ, you got to beat the champ. They're the champ," linebacker Robert Mathis said. "In order to get it back, we've just got to go down there and handle our business. I've been a part of some division championship teams. They're focused and they want it, it's just a matter of taking care of business.

"Make no mistake about it, we're not looking at their record because they are the two-time AFC South champions and we respect them as such."

The Colts are commanding respect of their own after defeating previously unbeaten Denver 39-33 in Week 7 to spoil Peyton Manning's return to Indianapolis before entering the bye.

Despite the impressive victory over the Broncos, the Colts suffered a costly blow as Wayne was lost for the season with a torn ACL in his right knee.

It's the first time since 2001 the Colts will put together a game plan without the three-time All-Pro. Darrius Heyward-Bey and T.Y. Hilton will be asked to do more, while tight end Coby Fleener may also see more passes from Andrew Luck.

Luck hit Heyward-Bey and Fleener for two of his three touchdown passes against the Broncos.

The second-year signal caller, who hails from Houston, will likely find things much tougher against the Texans. Though Houston is 27th in scoring defense (27.7 points per game) largely thanks to the offense and special teams allowing seven return touchdowns, the Texans are the league's top-ranked total defense, allowing an average of 267.7 yards - 145.6 passing.

"They've got game-wreckers all over the place. They've got a front seven that is as good as anybody in football. They've got probably the best defensive player in football in J.J. Watt," coach Chuck Pagano said.

Luck should be well aware of Houston's impressive defense after he was sacked six times while the teams split two meetings last season. Five of those sacks - three by Watt - came in a 29-17 defeat at Reliant Stadium in Week 15, when Luck completed 13 of 27 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns, including a 61-yard toss to Hilton.

Luck again won't have to worry about Brian Cushing, who torn his left ACL for the second straight season. The linebacker's latest injury came in a 17-16 loss at Kansas City in Week 7, giving the Texans the bye to prepare for the Colts.

"We had to adjust to that last year," coach Gary Kubiak said. "We'll have to do that again. J.J. is already a leader, but I think it's going to call for some other guys to be vocal. I think (middle linebacker) Joe Mays has got more confidence in what he's doing.

"Unfortunately, we've been down this road before and some guys will have to step up."

The same could be said for Case Keenum, who will make a second straight start in place of a healthy Matt Schaub.

Keenum completed 15 of 25 passes for 271 yards and a touchdown in his first NFL appearance against the Chiefs while Schaub was out with a foot injury.

Sticking with Keenum might be made easier since Schaub has been largely ineffective, compiling a 78.8 passer rating with eight touchdowns and nine interceptions - four returned for TDs.

"I've got to make decisions I think are best for the football team right now," Kubiak said. "The decision I made was based on what I saw take place last week with Case and him taking advantage of an opportunity. I want to see him move forward."

The Colts rank 29th against the run, surrendering an average of 122.3 yards, but Houston's chances to take advantage might depend on the health of its two top backs.

Arian Foster has routinely shredded Indianapolis, gaining 752 yards while averaging 6.6 per carry with six touchdowns in five career meetings, but a hamstring injury limited him to four carries against the Chiefs. He didn't practice Wednesday and is considered questionable for Sunday.

Backup Ben Tate has a rib injury, but went through a light practice Wednesday and expects to play.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 9-4-0
coleryan Posts:13321 Followers:19
11/01/2013 03:44 PM

Both teams are coming off bye weeks in which they took time to address significant issues. The Colts are still banged up on both sides of the ball. The offense won’t change much without injured wide receiver Reggie Wayne, but quarterback Andrew Luck is facing one of the league’s most dangerous defenses minus his most trusted target in key situations.

RB Trent Richardson hasn’t made a game-changing impact since arriving from Cleveland, but Indianapolis does stay committed enough to the run to prevent the Texans’ fierce pass rush from selling out. And FB Stanley Havili is proving to be an excellent outlet receiver.

Defensively, the Colts could be without multiple ailing cornerbacks. That’s music to the ears of new Texans QB Case Keenum, who is now on a nine-game audition for his future.

The onus is on RBs Arian Foster and Ben Tate to pound away at the league’s 28th-ranked run defense and help Houston own time of possession. Keenum showed against Kansas City that he’s up to the task of playing in the NFL, but he won’t win this game on his own if forced to routinely drive the length of the field while playing from behind.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 9-4-0
coleryan Posts:13321 Followers:19
11/01/2013 03:45 PM

The Indianapolis Colts must take the tact Sunday that a desperate team is a dangerous team. There's no question the Houston Texans are desperate.

Confident, Super Bowl-contending teams don't ditch their healthy, supposed franchise quarterback at midseason. Yet Texans coach Gary Kubiak did just that.

Matt Schaub is out, Case Keenum is in.

That move probably makes Colts rush end Robert Mathis salivate, once he stops laughing, but he's wise enough to keep those emotions under wraps.

“He's a good athlete and he has a good arm,” Mathis said. “From his time when he played at (the University of) Houston, he kind of slings the ball around. Very good quarterback, so we've got our job cut out for us.”

The Colts (5-2) play the Texans (2-5) at 8:30 p.m. Sunday at Reliant Stadium, Houston.

Why would Kubiak stick with Keenum when Schaub is once again healthy and ready to play? Desperation. He doesn't call it that, of course.

Kubiak says he liked what he saw when Keenum filled in for Schaub – he completed 15 of 25 passes for 271 yards and a touchdown in a 17-16 loss to Kansas City on Oct. 20 – and wants to explore where he and the team can grow further against the Colts. I don't doubt that's true. But it's also an indictment of Schaub's play leading up to Kansas City.

How many winning teams would stick with a backup quarterback after the starter returned from injury? 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh did last season when he stayed with Colin Kaepernick instead of going back to Alex Smith. That's the only example of a winning team switching QBs that comes to mind.

Losing, desperate teams are much more likely to ditch the unsuccessful Plan A.

The Texans' move seems more about trying to use a huge change to flip a season spiraling out of control.

“Matt's a pro,” Kubiak said, describing the benching. “He's extremely disappointed. He's a competitor. He wants to be out there running the football team and I totally understand that. I expressed my feelings to him. He expressed his feelings to me. We're both grown men. But it's a tough decision.”

It's possible the move to Keenum could work in the Texans' favor if the Colts don't recognize the danger in desperation.

Through seven games, the Colts have played to the level of their competition, with outstanding performances against San Francisco, Seattle and Denver and forgettable moments against Oakland, Miami and San Diego.

That trend leads me to believe the Colts will struggle against the Texans, throwing in the Texans' desperation, their sometimes strong defense (looks better in stats than when Rams post 38 on the board) and the uncertainty surrounding the Colts' receiving corps without injured Reggie Wayne.

“When you turn on the film and watch their defense, it's the No. 1 defense in the National Football League (in total defense, including No. 1 versus the pass),” Colts quarterback Andrew Luck said. “It's a phenomenal team. I'm sure they're a bit disappointed at their record right now.

“We know, offensively, this is an incredible challenge against one of the premier players in the league in J.J. Watt,” Luck continued. “All of the other guys are phenomenal players. We have our hands full. We know that.”

Luck enters the game without his security blanket (Wayne) for the first time in his pro career. That roadblock shouldn't be underestimated. As good as Wayne's reputation is around the league, he's still somewhat underrated. The precision of his routes and the dependability of his hands has made him a favorite third-down target, first with Peyton Manning, now with Luck.

What happens now? Luck needs other receivers, whether Darrius Heyward-Bey, T.Y. Hilton or tight end Coby Fleener, to step up. The third wide-receiver spot will be drawn from a relatively inexperienced trio of LaVon Brazill, Griff Whalen and David Reed. Heyward-Bey was limited in practice Thursday by a hamstring issue.

They'll be stepping up against a defense that – for all of the Texans' struggles – has potential to be stout on any given Sunday.

“I don't think we'll miss a beat,” Luck said, perhaps trying to convince himself. “Maybe certain things, routes Reggie always got. There might be a couple of things in practice we might have to work on. I don't think we'll miss a beat when it comes to Sunday in terms of receiver production and production from our end.”

Defensively, the Colts must harness the Texans' running game and let Keenum know he's being watched. And pursued. And crushed.

“He's got moxie, he's got savvy, he's able to extend plays,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “Going into one of the toughest venues in the National Football League (Kansas City) to play a game as a first-timer, he was as cool as a cucumber.”

Keenum will be playing with little to lose Sunday. He'll be playing with the freedom of a starting quarterback. He'll be playing with the abandon that comes with desperation.

The Colts can't let the Texans' desperation turn into production and momentum. Houston entered this season as the AFC South favorite. Somewhere, inside, if the Colts don't keep it contained, that persona could resurface.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 9-4-0
coleryan Posts:13321 Followers:19
11/02/2013 11:34 AM

Colts wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (hamstring) is questionable, but got in a limited practice on Friday.

Cornerback Josh Gordy (groin), safety Delano Howell (neck) and cornerback Greg Toler (groin) are all out for Indy. Running back Arian Foster (hamstring) will be a game-time decision for the Texans, who also listed 13 players as probable.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 9-4-0
yisman Posts:707 Followers:50
11/02/2013 11:39 AM

I'm riding with Indy

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