If the Colts are ever going to win a game, this might be the perfect scenario. Confidence level up after covering three straight spreads. At home. Against a rookie quarterback and a Houston team coming off its worst performance of the year and travelling on short rest.
Oh wait, apparently the Colts already won a game, in Week 15 against Tennessee. And that could change everything, because now we’re all afraid that Indianapolis will curl up into a shell in order to ensure that it still lands the top pick in April’s draft.
But with all due respect to GLS contributor Joe Fortenbaugh, who uses that factor in rationalizing Houston over Indy tonight, I just can’t see the Colts folding.
First of all, it’s harder than it appears to lose on purpose or give less than 100 percent. Most players won’t do it, most coaches realize it’ll do more harm than good and it’s actually a difficult thing to do, physically, in a fast-paced game like football. Only rare birds can deliberately miss a block or drop a pass. Antics like that probably mean you have no soul, and it probably indicates you should take the psychopath test. You may also have a dark passenger.
Secondly, our pals at 18 To 88 did the math, and it turns out that even one more win wouldn’t cost the Colts the top pick. They’d have to win out and the Rams and Vikings would have to lose out to jeopardize Indy’s chances of landing Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.
So I’m expecting a strong effort from the Colts, who should be inspired to play spoiler in their home season finale against the team that embarrassed them in Week 1 and has stolen a division crown that they had owned for much of the last decade.
Tangible factors are also at play in this game, by the way. Texans rookie quarterback T.J. Yates, who still won’t have top receiver Andre Johnson, might have hit a wall with a rough outing against Carolina last weekend, and the Panthers defense is actually worse than Indy’s in terms of yards surrendered per play. To limit potential mistakes from Yates, the Texans would be smart to run often, but the Colts have been better than they’ve been given credit for against the run. They shut down a hot Chris Johnson last week and the 4.1 yards per carry they’ve given up this year ranks 12th in the league.
Houston’s defense is coming off its worst game of the year — they were out-muscled by the Panthers — and while Dan Orlovsky obvously isn’t as dynamic as Cam Newton, he’s a major upgrade over Curtis Painter and Kerry Collins. Plus, he’ll benefit from the presence of red-hot running back Donald Brown, who might be even more effective than DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart were down the stretch in Week 15. This is a Texans defense that is only so-so against the run and still won’t have superstar defensive coordinator Wade Phillips for medical reasons.
I know this is crazy, but everything — including my gut — is telling me to take a chance on the Colts straight up at home. I have a lot of confidence that they’ll cover a 6.5-point spread, and I’m going to go out on a limb with the final result.
GLS prediction: Colts 23, Texans 21