On Saturday night (1/6/24), the Indianapolis Colts host the Houston Texans in a game with huge playoff implications in the AFC South. In this article, find the latest betting odds and predictions for the game along with a full matchup preview. In addition, find our Texans vs. Colts best bet which is the Texans -1.
Houston Texans Vs. Indianapolis Colts Prediction
The Texans finally got C.J. Stroud back in the lineup last week, and while the rookie quarterback had to shake off some rust in returning from his concussion, Houston came away with the 23-3 win over the Titans. However, I came away from that game most impressed with their defense, which has been clearly on the rise in recent weeks as head coach DeMeco Ryans rounds that unit into form.
Houston quietly ranks 9th in defensive success rate since Week 10, and they’re in an even better place now that rookie edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. is back on the field. He came through with two sacks last week and now ranks 3rd in ESPN’s pass rush win rate metrics behind only Micah Parsons and Myles Garrett. He has all of the makings of a future Defensive Player of the Year candidate.
Overall, the Texans rank third in pass rush win rate per ESPN, which puts them in position to crush a Colts offensive line ranked 24th in pass block win rate. Indianapolis is dealing with injuries on the offensive line with Braden Smith, Quenton Nelson, and Ryan Kelly all on the injury report, and while all are expected to play, this offensive line is not in the best shape entering this game.
Colts head coach Shane Steichen has done an excellent job of piecing things together in the wake of several injuries, but it’s clear that Gardner Minshew is not a starting-caliber quarterback in this league. He’s due for more negative regression in the turnover department with 22 turnover-worthy plays translating to just nine interceptions, and this Houston pass rush will likely give him fits on Saturday.
Meanwhile, C.J. Stroud is in a great position to light up Gus Bradley’s Cover 3 defense. Against Cover 3, Stroud ranks second in yards per attempt and first in passer rating among 29 qualified quarterbacks per FantasyPointsData. The Colts could be without slot cornerback Kenny Moore II again after he missed last week with a back injury, which would put their young secondary in further dire straits.
We won’t know until Sunday whether or not this game will mean anything in the grand scheme of the AFC playoff picture, but both rookie head coaches will want to close out their season on a high note nevertheless. I’m backing Houston in this spot with an ascending defense and Stroud back in the lineup set to deliver a signature performance in primetime.
Houston Texans Vs. Indianapolis Colts Prediction: Jaguars -4
Houston Texans Vs. Indianapolis Colts Best Odds
The Colts opened as 1.5-point favorites in this game on Sunday, but that line was quickly corrected, and the Texans now sit as 1-point road favorites as of Wednesday. It appears that this line could continue to steam up as the Texans are one of the public darlings of the week. With an over/under currently lined at 47.5 points, the implied final score for this game is a narrow 24-23 in favor of Houston.
Houston Texans Vs. Indianapolis Colts Key Injuries
Injuries are always important to monitor at this time of year, and this game is no different. The Texans’ OT Laremy Tunsil and OG Shaq Mason were both DNPs in practice on Tuesday, but they’re both back at practice as of Wednesday. Edge Will Anderson Jr. and defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins have both dealt with ongoing injuries, but both are expected to play this week.
The Colts could be without cornerback Kenny Moore II this week after he missed last week’s game with a back injury. However, they should be otherwise mostly healthy for this game. WR Michael Pittman Jr. made his return from a concussion last week while RB Zack Moss could be returning to join Jonathan Taylor in the backfield.
Houston Texans Vs. Indianapolis Colts Key Matchups
In this battle between AFC South rivals, there are some fascinating matchups to take stock of. Let’s break down some of the key matchups that could determine who walks away a winner on Saturday night.
C.J. Stroud Vs. Colts’ Secondary
In his rookie season, C.J. Stroud has already established himself as a franchise quarterback in the NFL. Stroud ranks third in the NFL with 8.1 yards per attempt and he’s been especially potent on the deep ball (20+ yard throws) where he ranks first with a 141.1 passer rating per PFF. He has 18 big-time throws to just one turnover-worthy play on deep passes.
Unfortunately, fellow rookie wide receiver Tank Dell was lost for the season, but Nico Collins is picking up the slack as the team’s WR1. Collins ranks third in the NFL with 2.81 yards per route run and is over 1,100 yards and 7 touchdowns for the season. He’ll be a problem for the Colts’ boundary cornerbacks who allowed Davante Adams to post 13 catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns last week.
The Colts rank just 21st in pass defense success rate since Week 10, which is even more concerning when you consider which quarterbacks they’ve faced – Mac Jones, Baker Mayfield, Will Levis, Jake Browning, Mitchell Trubisky, Taylor Heinicke, and Aidan O’Connell. Stroud is by far the best of that bunch, and he should put a hurting on this Colts secondary.
Colts’ Run Game Vs. Texans’ Run Defense
Steichen has done a good job of maintaining balance on the Colts’ offense, and they’ve been a top ten rushing offense by DVOA. The return of Jonathan Taylor to the lineup has only provided more of a boost, and he finished with 21 carries for 96 yards and a touchdown last week. Since Week 10, the Colts rank 9th in early down success rate when running the ball, which has helped their offense stay on schedule.
However, this will be a tough matchup against a Texans defense ranked first in the NFL against the run by success rate since Week 10. Linebacker Blake Cashman ranks fifth in the NFL in PFF’s run defense grades while running outside zone against Will Anderson Jr. and Jonathan Greenard has been a fool’s errand for opposing offenses.
If the Colts can’t establish the run on early downs, they’ll be putting Minshew in disadvantageous situations on late downs. Minshew has been horrendous under pressure this season with a 45.6% completion rate and 32.1 PFF passing grade, and he has four big-time throws to 15 turnover-worthy plays. Houston’s elite pass rush should wreak havoc in this game.