Point Spread: Texans favored by 1 point
Over/Under: 45 points
Location: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
The Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans have combined to win 11 out of the 13 all-time AFC South division titles. That’s why, when the National Football League announced that the Colts and Texans will meet on Thursday Night Football in Week 5, they likely didn’t expect that the two teams would be entering the game with a combined 3-5 record. This matchup still has serious implications in the race for the AFC South crown, but up to this point, the Colts and Texans have both had largely disappointing starts to the 2015 season.
On one hand, the Colts had serious Super Bowl aspirations heading into the season. On the other hand, the Texans were looking to make a playoff push in year two of the Bill O’Brien era in Houston. When the dust settles on this game, the winner will have taken one giant step toward winning a division title. Here is a Cheat Sheet preview of what to look for, as well as a final prediction of tonight’s matchup.
1. Will Andrew Luck be available?
Luck is officially listed as questionable on the Colts’ injury report, but it’s sounding more and more like the 26-year-old quarterback is going to miss his second consecutive game. While Luck was able to do some light throwing during the team’s Tuesday practice, Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano has said that the team “will do the right thing” (a.k.a. rest Luck) if playing in tonight’s game would put him at risk of further injuring his shoulder. This situation is worth monitoring, as the Colts are a very mediocre team without Luck in the lineup.
2. Can the Colts offensive line slow down J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney?
Coming into the season, the biggest question mark on the Colts’ roster was undoubtedly their offensive line, and they have struggled all season — no surprise. To be brutally honest, the last thing a struggling offensive line needs is to deal with figuring out a way to contain Watt and Clowney. If the Colts struggle against either player, or both players for that matter, it will be a long night for Luck and the rest of the Indianapolis offense. If the Colts can find a way to contain Watt and Clowney, there is a good chance that they will light up the scoreboard early and often in this AFC South divisional matchup.
3. What kind of impact will Arian Foster have?
Foster returned to action in the Texans’ Week 4 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, but only managed to rush for 10 yards on eight carries. Most people are expecting a much better game out of the two-time All-Pro this week. When he is healthy, Foster is one of the premier running backs in the NFL. But when he is forced to play through pain, or play with an injury, Foster looks average at best. We are expecting Foster to receive more carries than usual in this game, especially with the Texans struggling at the quarterback position. If he gets rolling early, the Texans will be hard to slow down offensively. If not, the Houston offense will rely on an incredibly inconsistent quarterback in Ryan Mallett to move the ball.
Final Prediction: Texans 27, Colts 23
The oddsmakers in Las Vegas are expecting a nail-biter, and we think that this is exactly what we will see. In the end, Watt, Clowney, and the rest of the Texans defense will overwhelm a subpar Colts offensive line and be the difference in this game.