Texans +7.5 over Colts
1:00 PM EST
Betting Line Provider: Fanduel
The preseason is generally meaningless once the regular season begins, but I couldn’t help but downgrade the Colts in my power ratings based on their dismal showing in the preseason. The Colts have historically been slow starters during Frank Reich’s tenure — 0-4 SU & ATS in Week 1 during his time with the Colts — so he made a concerted effort to play the starters more in the preseason this year to have them prepared to come out of the gate in better form. To say that it didn’t go as planned is an understatement.
The aging Matt Ryan looked every bit of 37 years old in his Colts preseason debut and wasn’t able to find any chemistry with his mediocre at best receiving corps. Their reshuffled offensive line struggled to pass-protect and run block, and the defense was shaky. The new look Colts offense will take time to gel — they are certainly not an offense that I expect to come out of the gates gun-blazing to begin the season in Week 1.
The Colts did blow the Texans out in both meetings last year — shutting them out 31-0 in the first game then winning the second by a virtually identical score 31-3. That said, that was then, this is now. The Texans were especially putrid last season but there is a lot of reason for optimism this year. They have a returning coach in Lovie Smith who took over as the interim coach last season after David Culley was fired. They have a returning QB in Davis Mills who is a better QB than he gets credit for. Rookie running back Dameon Pierce was impressive in the preseason and has a favorable matchup against the Colts who will be without their best run stuffer in Darius ‘Shaq’ Leonard. The Texans showed promise at the end of last season as well, beating the Chargers and Titans, and nearly knocking the Titans off for a second time to close out the year.
It has been harped on ad nauseam at this point, but I’d be remiss not to mention that divisional underdogs in Week 1 are a total ‘bet-on’ profitable subset — 28-9-1 (76%) ATS in Week 1 since 2015. Not quite as strong, but still a trend worth mentioning is Week 1 dogs of 6.5 points or more, another profitable subset that has gone 43-27 (61%) since 2015.Everyone remembers watching the Texans struggle to score on a backup defense during the Amazon Prime game during the preseason, but they were missing most of their key offensive weapons in that game so I don’t take anything away from that. The Texans are being power rated in this game like they are among the worst teams in the NFL, but I don’t agree with that. They’re not a good team, by any means, but I don’t believe that they are among the worst. Let’s also not forget that Houston’s only win in the first half of the season came as underdogs in Week 1 — a game they won by 16 points.
I’m not suggesting that the Texans are going to be a good team this year or that they will win this game straight up, but neither have to be true for us to cash this bet. Given the Colts preseason shortcomings and propensity to start the season slow, there is no doubt in this bettor’s mind that the Colts are an overpriced favorite in this spot. I look for this game to be much closer than most anticipate and expect the Texans to do enough to hang around for four quarters. Texans +7.5.
@QuanNFL on Twitter