Houston Texans (+6.5)* at Indianapolis Colts
While it obviously wasn’t the game plan, the Houston Texans’ quarterback change back to Ryan Fitzpatrick appears to have provided the spark the team needed. 2-0 since Fitzpatrick regained the reigns, the 7-6 Texans’ only chance to remain in the AFC South race depends on Sunday’s game in Indianapolis. A Houston loss would clinch the division for Indianapolis, as well as virtually eliminate the Texans from playoff contention.
With the roller coaster ride that has been the Texans’ season — both in terms of consistency and starting quarterbacks — Houston has admirably put together an impressive campaign of late, albeit against relatively weak teams. Indianapolis remains one of the best, but has failed to solidify itself in the upper echelon of teams, if for no other reason than the absence of impressive victories.
All five of the Colts’ wins against teams with losing records have been by double-digits, but only one of the four games against teams with winning records have featured a margin of victory more than one touchdown. They destroy bad teams, but simply can’t pull away from good ones.
In the same vein, Houston’s seventh-best scoring defense, leading the league in turnovers, hardly allows teams to put them away early. In their last ten games, the Texans’ worst loss was by ten points. Most importantly, Houston fell behind early in its Week 6 loss to the Colts, only to come roaring back and eventually lose by five. For all intents and purposes, the Texans outplayed the Colts for a vast majority of the game, and likely left the field with the belief that they were the better team. Over the course of the season, that has proved to be false. But, for one game, it is absolutely possible.
Indianapolis’ hiccup in Cleveland — it eventually resulted in a one-point victory — was the blueprint for a device that could take down the Colts. If the Texans could pressure Andrew Luck in the same vein that the Browns did — this hardly seems a stretch considering how defensive end J.J. Watt is playing at an incredibly high level — they could replicate Cleveland’s result.
Houston takes it one step further. The Texans’ dream of a division title stays alive with a field goal win, beating the spread.