Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans: Luck turning for the better

Air-male delivery: Indy's Superman is finding his feet with a ground game to compliment his aerial assault
Air-male delivery: Indy's Superman is finding his feet with a ground game to compliment his aerial assault

After a stuttering start, Andrew Luck should now be healthy and ready to kick his colts into a higher gear against their divisional foes in Houston...


"It’s hard to find any places on the park where Houston are playing with confidence and composure"

Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans
Start-time: Friday, 01:30
TV: Live on SS1

With or without Andrew Luck, the Indianapolis Colts can neatly file this encounter under "Houston: no problem". Their star QB unexpectedly missed Sunday's game against Jacksonville with a right shoulder injury, despite passing a late and secret trial with his coaching staff. At bottom, the pain in Luck's throwing arm was too much for him to risk long-term viability over a campaign which should still find them in the Super Bowl mix come the season's end.

One of the main reasons for that bold assessment (despite Indy's lacklustre 2-2 start) is the paucity of talent on show in the AFC South.

That point was eloquently demonstrated when the Colts fell over the line at the weekend against the hapless Jaguars (single-footedly let down by the boot of kicker Jason Myers) even with an ageing Matt Hasselbeck at the QB controls. Consequently, Indianapolis are now joint-custodians of a 15-game winning record against any single collective NFL division, and victory here against the Houston Texans will leave them in sole possession of that streak.

Should Luck return as seems likely (no structural damage, although his game-day status is officially listed as "day-by-day") this match-up just gets even more straightforward. For if quarterback issues are delaying Indy's progress, they are positively destabilising the Texans.

Starter Ryan Mallett was eventually replaced by former incumbent Brian Hoyer after halftime during their last 48-21 annihilation in Atlanta. And though Hoyer threw for three TDs in the final quarter, it was decidedly after the Lord Mayor's Show. Still, with Mallett registering a woeful 150 yards at a completion percentage somewhere south of 50-50, Hoyer's Passer Rating of 103.8 (compared to Mallett's 46.8) could be enough to win his old job back. If only for a week.

On the other side of the ball, even JJ Watt, the game's top defensive end, cannot seem to inspire his troops, almost admitting defeat for the year by describing their weekend capitulation as "pitiful". While Watt is never one to rest on his laurels, the burden of being a one-man bulwark is taking its toll. Indeed, it's hard to find any places on the park where Houston are playing with confidence and composure.

The Colts, however, are improving in both those key categories. And fortunate victory-from-the-jaws moments like those in overtime against the Jags will simply add to their increased sense of purpose for the unfolding campaign.

Recent signing Frank Gore finally got out of first gear too. So while Indy's two-pronged running game is not without its issues (Gore and colleague Josh Robinson have been too fumble prone), these errors are surely short-term as opposed to systemic. And a good ground assault will, of course, only free Luck up to make his signature downfield strikes without the reckless abandon of the opening few matches this season.

In short, these are two teams on divergent paths. This week's addition of Thursday Night Football should bring that picture into sharp focus, no matter who's at the Colts' reigns. So get involved on some generous handicap lines now.


Recommended Bets

Back Indianapolis Colts to win on the Moneyline @ 2.26/5 or better
Back Indianapolis Colts (-5.5) to win on the Match Points Spread @ 4.57/2 or better
Back Indianapolis Colts (+1.5) to win on the First Half Points Spread @ 2.26/5 or better
Back Over 23.5 Total Indianapolis Colts Points @ 2.56/4 or better
Back F. Gore to score First / Anytime Touchdown 9.08/1 or better


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