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Sunday, November 3, 2013

NFL Preview 2013 Week 9: Colts vs Texans

Indianapolis Colts vs Houston Texans

Market Watch

In the LVH look-ahead line from a week ago, the Houston Texans were -2 point favorites for this matchup. Neither team played in Week 8, but when the lines reopened on Monday, the Colts had become the favorite at -1.

There hasn't been much movement since as most sportsbooks now have the line anywhere between -1 and -2. However, Sunday Night Football is universally known as the "chase game", so we could see a move up to -3 by kickoff as 77 percent of the bets are currently on Indy.

What to look for

In the big picture, it doesn't get any bigger than this for the Houston Texans. Win, and they are within two games of the division leading Colts. Lose, and they fall four games back and likely kiss their playoff hopes goodbye.

If the Texans hope to win this game, they'll need Case Keenum to show the kind of moxy he displayed in Kansas City two weeks ago. Despite what he showed in the preseason, nobody expected that kind of performance against what most consider the best defense in the league.

In this game, Keenum's test will once again be a daunting one. The Colts pass defense ranks in the top 10, they are near the top of the NFL on third down, and Robert Mathis has been a sack machine off the edge.

And Keenum will need to do it with a banged up Ben Tate. This is a tricky situation for Houston because the run game is the one area where Indy have had trouble all season. Arian Foster is also injured and remains a game-time decision.

But let's not shed a tear for the Texans offense. Indy is without one of their game-breakers too. Reggie Wayne is done for the year with a torn ACL and they'll need second-tier receivers to fill the void.

T.Y. Hilton and Darrius Heyward-Bey have shown flashes of great play this season, but neither have put it all together on a consistent basis yet. Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson could have the edge in this matchup on the outside.

Instead, the Colts will be wise to attack in the inside rush lanes as Brian Cushing is done for the year. He's the glue that held this Texans defense together and with him out the lineup, the middle of the field should be vulnerable.

That means the Indy offensive line will need to do a much better job at run-blocking for Trent Richardson. He hasn't produced like expected since the trade, but there's no denying his raw ability. It's still too early to write him off just yet.

Houston's defense as a whole has been average all year, but they were downright awful in the key situations until they stepped up against the Chiefs in Week 7.

But Andrew Luck is not Alex Smith, and Indy should have lots of opportunities to move the chains on Sunday night.

Bottom Line

By my numbers, the Colts deserve to be -3 point favorites in this game, but that's not taking the Reggie Wayne injury into consideration. Without him, it's hard to tell what kind of ripple-effect that will have on the rest of the offense. He's that good.  I'd recommend to sit this game out. A solid case could be made either way.
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