The NFL Playoffs kicks off with a battle of familiar foes. The Houston Texans open as slight home favorites, hosting AFC South rivals Indianapolis Colts. These squads know each other well and come into this game having split the season series between them, with each team winning their game on the road. Both teams come in with amazing runs after a tough start to the season. Texas begin their campaign at 0-3, going 11-2 since, while the Colts started even worse at 1-5, going on a tear winning nine of final ten games.
Houston took the first meeting in September, winning 37-34 in an overtime thriller, while Indianapolis got their revenge by the same margin, a 24-21 win in early December snapping Houston’s nine game winning streak. This rivalry has been even in recent history as each team has won four and lost four since 2015.
The Texans are led by their focus on the ground game on both sides of the ball. Offensively, the team ranks eighth in the NFL with 126.3 rushing yards per game. Running backs Lamar Miller, Alfred Blue, and quarterback Deshaun Watson have surpassed 2000 rushing yards on twelve touchdowns. As a passer, Watson has improved his play as the season progressed, only two interceptions in the last ten games compared to seven in Houston’s first six games this season. However, the team has allowed a league worst 62 sacks, six more than closest team, and most since the Detroit Lions in 2006. On the defensive side, they rank third against the run anchored by defensive end J.J Watt and outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney with 16 and 9 sacks respectively.
Houston Texans Home NFL Form
|30.12.2018||WIN||Houston Texans 20 – 3 Jaguars|
|09.12.2018||LOSS||Houston Texans 21 – 24 Colts|
|02.12.2018||WIN||Houston Texans 29 – 13 Browns|
|27.11.2018||WIN||Houston Texans 34 – 17 Titans|
|26.10.2018||WIN||Houston Texans 42 – 23 Dolphins|
For the Colts, it’s no secret this game will center around Andrew Luck. The top candidate for comeback player of the year finished the regular season with 39 touchdowns, one short of a career high. Protecting Luck has been a point of emphasis, featuring one of the league’s best offensive lines, giving up only 18 sacks on the year. In their last meeting, Luck passed for 399 yards with receiver T.Y. Hilton benefiting from 199 of them. Hilton has made a habit of monster games at NRG stadium, going over 175 yards three times in his career.
This game will come down to whether the Texans can run the ball enough to keep it out of Luck’s hands, and if they can stop the quarterback when on defense. The latter, a tall order. Indianapolis has been good against the run, ranking 8th best in rushing yards allowed per game, though Houston should be able to find some success there.
Indianapolis Colts Away NFL Form
|31.12.2018||WIN||Titans 17 – 33 Indianapolis Colts|
|09.12.2018||WIN||Texans 21 – 24 Indianapolis Colts|
|02.12.2018||LOSS||Jaguars 6 – 0 Indianapolis Colts|
|28.10.2018||WIN||Raiders 28 – 42 Indianapolis Colts|
|14.10.2018||WIN||Jets 42 – 34 Indianapolis Colts|
The Money Line
Here are how the odds to win the match look from the bookies ahead of the game.
Odds taken at 18:00 GMT 03/01/2019
Our Verdict and Best Bets
Both offenses can put up numbers, Texans ranking 11th in scoring offense with 25.1 points per game, the Colts 5th with 27.1. However, Andrew Luck will be too much of a force for this Houston team and will keep his comeback season on track with a close win to move on to the Divisional round.
Indianapolis Colts to win @ 2.05 (21/20) with William Hill.
Point Spread, Indianapolis Colts +1.5 @ 1.93 (5/6) with Betfair.