Colts Texans Thursday Night Preview

HAS THE AFC SOUTH BECOME LAST YEAR'S NFC SOUTH? COLTS AND TEXANS BATTLE THURSDAY TO FIND OUT

Last season, the NFC South didn't have a single team with a winning record...so a loser qualified for the playoffs (looks like that won't be a problem with season with TWO teams off to 4-0 starts!). Here in 2015, it's very possible that the AFC South is going to follow that pathway.

*Heavy preseason favorite Indianapolis is off to a stunning 2-2 start amidst front office turmoil. Quarterback Andrew Luck couldn't go last week, and was a turnover machine before he got hurt. The Colts are still the favorite to win this division...but they're no longer seen as a superpower.

*Houston got running back Arians Foster back into the lineup sooner than expected. That gives them a chance to rebound from a 1-3 start. Can they go 8-4 the rest of the way to clinch a winning record? Definitely a team that could win the division at 7-9 or 8-8...but the lack of a proven quarterback is a big problem.

*Tennessee is 1-2 after a bye last week. Marcos Mariota is promising...but rookie quarterbacks rarely lead their teams to winning records. This will be an interesting story to follow. Just not in terms of a likely playoff berth.

*Jacksonville is still rebuilding as they deal with a 1-3 start. If they couldn't beat the Colts with Hasselbeck...in a game where they won stats handily...there's just no way these guys are on the way to a winning record.

What an ugly division! The Colts may win by default anyway...and will seem like a virtual lock if they can win Thursday and Luck soon regains his health. With all that in mind, let's run through JIM HURLEY'S key indicator stats to see how Colts/Texans should play out...

Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)
Indianapolis: 2-2 (lost at Buffalo and vs. NYJ; won at Tennessee and vs. Jax)
Houston: 1-3 (lost to KC and at Carolina, beat Tampa Bay, lost at Atlanta)

Houston has played the tougher schedule if you assume that undefeated Carolina and Atlanta have improved enough to be borderline playoff caliber (or better). The Colts barely survived Tennessee and Jacksonville from the low end of NFL Power Ratings...and were non-competitive because of turnovers against the Bills and Jets.

Yards-Per-Play
Indianapolis: 5.2 on offense, 5.7 on defense
Houston: 4.9 on offense, 5.3 on defense

Ugly differentials for both. Slight nod to the Texans here because -0.4 is better than -0.5, and it came against a slightly tougher schedule. Also, we generally respect the superior of two defenses in a head-to-head matchup. Houston is well-positioned to get back into the divisional race unless Luck comes back at 100% and plays clean football.

Turnover Differential
Indianapolis: -9
Houston: -6

Good lord what a disaster. We've only played FOUR games! You can see that Andrew Luck tends to implode when he forces things. All the off-field turmoil is causing him to force things. Houston is in big trouble at the quarterback position because Brian Hoyer is inconsistent and uncertain, while Ryan Mallett is a loose cannon who must play within a simplified offense. Houston is hoping they can grind out a win on the ground. If they can't...things could get very messy here in either direction. 

Market Performance
Indianapolis: 0-4 ATS
Houston: 1-3 ATS

Two very overrated teams. The Colts collapse has been a stunner. They were supposed to be #2 in the AFC behind New England this year after losing in the "deflate-gate" championship game last season. They're not playing anywhere near that expectation as the market continues to flounder in its adjustment. Houston was supposed to be a darkhorse. Instead, it's just been dark. The only cover came against Tampa Bay, who starts a rookie at quarterback.

Current Line: No early line pending status of Andrew Luck

We're writing this a couple of days in advance of kickoff for the midweek NOTEBOOK window. The Colts will be a favorite if Luck is sure to go. Houston would be a small favorite over Hasselbeck. We might see a very low total here given the struggles both offenses have been enduring. Colts/Jaguars only made it to 26 in regulation last week. That Houston win over Tampa Bay ended 19-9.

JIM HURLEY will know what he needs to know by kickoff to make sure his clients play this game the right way on the side or total. In the meantime, build your bankrolls with some playoff baseball! You can always purchase BEST BETS in all sports right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about extended service, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453 during normal business hours between now and Thursday's kickoff.

Our TV previews will continue later in the week. Coming up soon in the NOTEBOOK...

*College Football TV Preview...#23 California at #5 Utah
*NFL Sunday Night TV Preview...San Francisco at NY Giants
*NFL Monday Night TV Preview...Pittsburgh at San Diego
*NFL Thursday Night TV Preview...Atlanta at New Orleans

It's been such a crazy season in college football that Cal/Utah is now a showcase night time centerpiece! Is Utah really a contender for the Final Four? We'll talk about that on Friday.

For now...enjoy some BIG, JUICY WINNERS in postseason baseball from a PROVEN WINNER with almost 30 years of championship experience. Hook up with JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK!

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