Houston has fallen to Indianapolis 15 times in 16 head-to-head meetings.
The Indianapolis Colts look to put another terrible preseason behind them when they visit their AFC South rival Houston Texans on Sunday.
Bookmaker.com has Indianapolis as two-point road favorites with a total of 47 points.
Indianapolis just wrapped up another preseason by going 0-4 straight-up and 1-3 against the spread. The record is 3-14 SU and 5-11-1 ATS over the last four years.
The Colts are able to flip the switch, averaging 13 wins the last three regular seasons. However, they’ve struggled in their last two season-openers, losing 29-13 to Chicago as 10-point favorites and surviving 14-12 against Jacksonville as 6 ½-point ‘chalk’ last year. Both were home games.
Indy is also dealing with its crushing Super Bowl upset to New Orleans. The last losing team to make the Super Bowl the next year was the 1993 Buffalo Bills. Seven of the last nine haven’t even made the playoffs.
Quarterback Peyton Manning has had several bad playoff losses, but has always bounced back the next year. The four-time NFL MVP has a bevy of weapons with receivers Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie and Anthony Gonzalez joining tight end Dallas Clark.
There are offensive line problems with center Jeff Saturday (knee) and left tackle Charlie Johnson (foot) and backup Tony Ugoh (toe) all questionable due to injuries. Manning is also adjusting to Clyde Christensen calling the plays after Tom Moore handled the job for so many years.
Finally, the changing of the umpire position has affected the no-huddle offense. The league is reviewing the procedure and could make more changes before Sunday’s game.
Indianapolis’ defense ranked 18th in yards allowed last year (339.2) and eighth in points (19.2). Almost all the key pieces return and safety Bob Sanders is back in the mix. It’s safe to ignore the 40 PPG the unit allowed this preseason.
Indianapolis is the 405 favorite to win the AFC and 525 to win the Super Bowl.
The Texans went 9-7 SU and 7-7-2 ATS last year. They won their final four games for the first winning season in franchise history. They’ve still never made the playoffs.
Coach Gary Kubiak is in his fifth season, showing gradual improvement with records of 6-10, 8-8, 8-8, and 9-7. That was good enough for owner Bob McNair, who signed him to a contract extension through 2012.
Quarterback Matt Schaub is back to lead the NFL’s top-rated passing attack (290.9 YPG). He has a superstar receiver in Andre Johnson and a terrific tight end in Owen Daniels, who is back from knee surgery. Matt Leinart was recently signed after being dumped by Arizona, but Dan Orlovsky is the backup for now.
The offense scored 24.3 PPG, ranked 10th in the league. Rushing was the big weakness at 30th in total yards and only 3.5 per carry. Arian Foster is the main man after a great training camp and preseason.
The defense ranked 13th in total yards last year (324.9) and 17th in points (20.8). Cornerback Dunta Robinson was lost as a free agent and replaced by rookie Kareem Jackson. Star linebacker Brian Cushing will miss the first four games with a league substance abuse suspension.
Houston is an interesting underdog pick at plus 1200 to win the AFC. It has the hardest strength of schedule, but Kubiak needs to at least make the playoffs.
Houston’s injury report looks good with running back Steve Slaton (toe) and linebacker Xavier Adibi (groin) both probable.
Indianapolis is 6-0 SU in the last six meetings against the Texans and 15-1 SU lifetime. Many recent games have been close, with the road team going 4-0 ATS. Houston led 17-0 at home last year before Indy went on a 35-3 run.
The ‘over’ is 9-1 in the last 10 meetings.
Kickoff is at 10 a.m. (PT) on CBS. Weather is not a factor with the retractable roof of Reliant Stadium.