Houston Texans vs Indianapolis Colts Matchup Preview (12/6/2020): Betting Odds, Depth Charts, Live Streams (Watch Online)
The 7-4 Indianapolis Colts will travel to Houston to take on the 4-7 Texans. Indianapolis lost to Tennessee this past weekend and gave up sole possession of the AFC South, a disappointing revelation just a few short weeks after they beat Tennessee to even up their records at 6-3. Indianapolis now finds themselves in possession of the seventh-seeded wildcard spot and a game behind Tennessee, who is 8-3. Meanwhile, a win for Houston would not only create a three-game win streak but would give them a fighter’s chance to crawl back into the playoff picture. For odds movement and full matchup history, visit the Houston Texans vs Indianapolis Colts Matchup Page.
Date: Sunday, December 6th, 2020
Time: 12:00 PM CT
Location: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
TV Coverage: CBS
Texans vs. Colts Live Stream
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Houston Texans: Bryan Anger (quad) Q, Lonnie Johnson Jr (knee) Q, Ross Blacklock (illness) Q, Cullen Gillaspia (back) Q
Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Castonzo (knee) Q, Chaz Green (back) Q, Bobby Okereke (ankle) Q, Philip Rivers (toe) Q, Rigoberto Sanchez (illness) Q, Khari Willis (back/quad) Q, Zach Pascal (knee) Q, Kemoko Turay (ankle) Q, Ryan Kelly (neck) Q, Isaiah Rodgers (knee) Q, Jordan Wilkins (ribs) Q
2020 has not treated Houston kindly. The season started with a gauntlet of a schedule, including losses to the Chiefs, Ravens, and Steelers. However, Houston then followed their 0-3 start with a loss to the then 0-3 Vikings. Following the loss and 0-4 record, Houston fired Bill O’Brien, and Romeo Crennel took over as the interim head coach. Since Houston has gone 4-3, they have beat Jacksonville twice, as well as New England and Detroit. They have lost to Tennessee in overtime, Green Bay, and Cleveland. It’s true; their resume is not impressive. Either way, another win on Sunday against Indianapolis and Houston would not only stay within reach of a final playoff spot, but a three-game win streak and beating a tough opponent would earn back some of the respect they have lost in 2020.
Offensively, Deshaun Watson has been the typical do-it-all quarterback that we have come to know in Houston. Despite one of the league’s worst rushing attacks (their 83.9 rushing yards per game trails only Chicago), Watson continues to shine. On the season, he has completed 68.9-percent of his passes for 3201 yards, 24 touchdowns, and just five interceptions. In addition to his two rushing touchdowns, his 293 rushing yards trails David Johnson’s team-leading 408 rushing yards by just 115 yards. Put another way, Deshaun Watson has accounted for a whopping 85-percent of his team’s yards on offense. For reference, fellow AFC South quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s mark is at just 64-percent. The offense, already without David Johnson, took another big blow this week with the news that star wide receiver Will Fuller would be suspended for six games for violating the league’s substance abuse policies (he tested positive for a PED). Against a tough matchup, without a few key players, once again look for Deshaun Watson to put the team on his back and attempt to carry them back into the playoff picture.
Meanwhile, the defense has not been good. For starters, their 27 points per game allowed is 10th-highest in the NFL. A big reason for this is their monumentally bad running defense, which is giving up 154.7 rushing yards per game, which trails only Dallas as the league’s highest. Combine this with the 10th-highest passing yards per game allowed, and only two other teams (Seattle and Jacksonville) are giving up more yards per game than Houston. Most recently, the defense has played better. They held off Cam Newton and the Patriots, keeping them to just 20 points in week 11. In week 12 on Thanksgiving, they led Detroit 41-17 in the fourth quarter before giving up one garbage-time touchdown. The defense took a hit this week, however, with the announcement that starting corner Bradley Roby will also be suspended for six games for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. Indianapolis will be a great test for Houston’s defense, who needs to start making plays and get off the field if they want any chance to climb back into the playoff picture.
Houston Texans Depth Chart
At 7-4, Indianapolis is front and center in the AFC playoff picture. Just a few short weeks ago, Indianapolis beat Tennessee to tie their records at 6-3 atop the AFC South. Indianapolis followed up that win with an impressive victory over Green Bay to move to 7-3 and emerge as one of the league’s Super Bowl contenders. However, the small two-game win streak and power-ranking surge took a hit this past weekend with an embarrassing 45-26 loss to Tennessee. Tennessee moved to 8-3 and took over sole possession of the division, and Indianapolis dropped to 7-4 and stands as the seventh-seeded wildcard team in the AFC. A division win against Houston this weekend would not only maintain their playoff spot but would continue to put the pressure on Tennessee, who plays a playoff-implicated game against the Browns.
He’s no Andrew Luck, but Philip Rivers is starting to settle in with the Colts after moving on from a 15-year stint with the Chargers. On the season, Rivers has completed 67.3-percent of his passes for 2978 yards, 16 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. His 7.6 yards per attempt is just a smidge above league average. Rivers hasn’t benefited from a clear-cut number one wide receiver. On the season, running back Nyheim Hines is tied with T.Y. Hilton for the team-lead in targets at 55. Hines also leads the team in receptions with 44. For reference, 44 receptions is tied for the 40th-most in the league. Lately, Rivers has seemed to lock on to rookie wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr, who has averaged almost seven targets per game over his last four. The Colts’ rushing attack is not helping matters either, as they’re below league average in terms of rushing yards per game. The brunt of the disappointment falls on rookie Jonathan Taylor, who took over as the de-facto number-one running back after the injury to Marlon Mack. Taylor has 518 yards on 135 carries, as well as four rushing touchdowns. He’s also hauled in 26 catches for 227 yards. One way or another, the team’s 27.5 points per game is the ninth-highest in the league, just a shade below Tennessee’s mark of 29.5.
While the team is scoring the ninth-most points per game in the NFL, the defense is allowing the ninth fewest points per game. At times, they have looked dominant. For example, in weeks two through four, they allowed 11 points, seven points, and 11 points. Then again, this was against Minnesota, The Jets, and the Bears. They have also looked shaky at times. For example, they gave up 32 to Cleveland in week 5 and 27 to Cincinnati in week 6. Following their week-eight bye, they’ve given up an average of 27.6 points per game over their last five, an average that wasn’t helped by the two most recent weeks. They allowed 31 to Green Bay and 45 to Tennessee in weeks 11 and 12. It appears as if they can beat up on the bad and mediocre offenses but struggle against some of the league’s best. They also played this most recent week without two key defenders, DeForest Buckner and Denico Autry. This week will be a good test against a Houston team that is averaging over 30 points per game over their last six if you exclude the snow-ball in Cleveland.
Indianapolis Colts Depth Chart
Betting Corner Indianapolis -3.5
Spread: Colts -3.5
Moneyline: Colts -175, Texans +150
The line opens with the Colts as slim 3.5-point road favorites against Houston. Indianapolis’ reputation for defensive prowess may be slipping with the implied point total of 51, and both teams have shown an inclination to get involved in high-scoring games as of late. The over/under and spread imply a final score of 27-24 Indianapolis. Lastly, you don’t have to worry about the weather, as the game will be played inside the domed NRG Stadium in Houston.
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Daily Fantasy Picks
Taylor may or may not be playing, as it is still unclear whether or not he actually tested positive for COVID-19 or if he was placed on the reserve list for close-contact purposes. If it’s the latter, Taylor should be good to go in this juicy matchup. Just glancing at Houston boxscores this year makes it obvious why Houston is DraftKings‘ 31st-ranked team against fantasy running backs. This past week, Adrian Peterson scored two touchdowns and ran for 55 yards on just 12 carries. On the season, they’ve given up 100-plus yards on the ground to Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Dalvin Cook, James Conner, Derrick Henry, Nick Chubb, and Kareem Hunt (in the same game), and even Jonathan Taylor himself. James Robinson came just shy at 99 yards in their most recent matchup against Jacksonville. It goes without saying, you start running backs against Houston, especially at a ludicrously-low $5700.
Consider starting Hines either way, but particularly if Taylor is forced to sit again for COVID-19 related reasons. In Taylor’s absence in week 12, Hines saw more snaps, carries, and targets than teammate Jordan Wilkins. In fact, Hines led all pass-catchers in Indianapolis with 10 targets, which he turned into 8 catches for 66 yards. While he may not have found the end zone, he did receive two goal-line carries. Continue to monitor the injury status of the Colts defense as well, as they gave up 45 points this past week to Tennessee without starting defensive players DeForest Buckner and Denico Autry. Another short-handed week on the defensive side of the ball might make scoring easier for Houston, which makes it more likely that Nyheim Hines sees such a heavy volume of touches again. He’s cheaper than Taylor on DraftKings ($5300 compared to $5700) and has the pass-catching upside that Taylor doesn’t always provide.
While our perceptions about Houston might not be great, make no mistake that Deshaun Watson has been nothing short of remarkable for fantasy purposes. He takes a hit with the suspension of top wide receiver Will Fuller, but he’ll still have a solid cast around him led by Brandin Cooks. Watson isn’t cheap, as his $7500 price tag is just a shade under this week’s most expensive option, Mahomes at $8200. However, Watson has been worth it. If you ignore the snow-bowl in Cleveland, Watson is averaging 31.1 points per game over his last 6. If you include every game, he is still averaging 25.48 points per game. Consider stacking Watson with an incredibly cheap Brandin Cooks for a bargain at $13,100.
With the recent six-game suspension of Will Fuller, Brandin Cooks will catapult himself to Deshaun Watson’s leading wide receiver. History tells us that this is good news for Cooks. Despite Fuller’s one more reception than Cooks, Cooks actually has a slight lead on Fuller in targets. That target share will likely increase in the coming weeks, starting with this matchup against Indianapolis. Keep in mind, despite Fuller receiving the attention, and Cooks has still managed to score at least 10 fantasy points in seven of 11 games. While it is a rather tough matchup, it’s impossible to avoid such a heavy dose of targets from Deshaun Watson at such a low price of $5600. The Watson and Cook stack will only cost you $13,100, a solid price for what will likely be at least 40 combined points.