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Dec 6, 2018

NFL Week 14 preview: Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans

Analysing the Colts

Texans defying pre-season expectations

Colts vs. Texans: Where is the Value?

NFL Week 14 preview: Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans

The Indianapolis Colts take on the Houston Texans in the pick of this week’s NFL fixtures. Looking for value in the NFL Week 14 odds? Read on to inform your NFL Week 14 predictions.

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Analysing the Colts

It had been a season of two halves prior to Sunday’s divisional clash with the Jacksonville Jaguars for the 2018 Indianapolis Colts.

A 1-5 start is hardly the stuff of which playoff runs are made, but they subsequently erased all of those losses with a 5 game winning streak, fuelled by divisional wins against Jacksonville and Tennessee.

Sunday’s shutout loss in the return contest with Jacksonville has returned the Colts to a 0.500 season and a current eighth seeding in the AFC, where tie breakers separate themselves from three other playoff hopefuls.

A divisional title remains a longshot at below 5% and their best route to the post season is a wildcard entry, currently around a 10/1 chance.

Part of their split personality has been down to an uneven schedule.

Only the New York Jets could be considered also ran opponents in the opening six weeks of the season, but from week seven onwards they've been served a generous helping of struggling teams.

Quarterback Andrew Luck’s form has mirrored the Colts' struggles.

Completion rates in the mid 60% range and regular sacks littered the first half of the current campaign, to be replaced by a 10% increase in completion rates and much more secure protection for Luck in the latter half.

Although the early season failings were again in evidence during Sunday’s 6-0 loss on the road in Jacksonville.

If we incorporate the quality of the defensive units that Indianapolis has faced up against in 2018, they are struggling to move the ball efficiently, either through the air or on the ground. Neither approach operates well, particularly the passing game.

Despite their poor underlying offensive process, they have managed to outscore the average number of points per game conceded by their opponents by over a field goal.

This disconnect has kept them competitive in the AFC seeding race, but may not be a sustainable exercise.

They are also brittle defensively and the Colts concede a field goal more per game than their 2018 opponents are scoring, on average.

This is mainly down to a relatively poor passing defence that allows seven tenths of a yard per attempt further than the offences faced generally achieve and, although the run defence is comfortably one of the best in the NFL, they cannot wholly compensate for the occasions when the ball is put in the air.

Overall, Indianapolis’ defence is not quite a top 10 unit.

Texans defying pre-season expectations

Indianapolis’ opponents on Sunday are the current AFC South leaders, the Houston Texans.

The Texans also appeared an unlikely post season candidate when they dropped their first three games, but have since embarked upon a nine game winning streak that began in week four in Indianapolis.

They are currently ranked number three in the AFC, losing out to New England in head to head records and a game behind currently top seed, the Kansas City Chiefs.

Post season football is virtually assured, almost certainly as divisional winners.

Individual defensive and offensive matchups aren’t helpful to the visiting Colts.

Losing situations often compel a side to pass the ball. So, it isn’t that surprising to see that Houston took more frequently to the air in the early games of the season.

But partly as an attempt to offer more protection to a battered and bruised quarterback, Deshaun Watson, Houston has turned to a more ground based offence during their winning streak.

Sunday’s win over Cleveland was the first time in seven straight matches that Watson was asked to throw more than 25 times in a game.

It is a strategy that has seen Houston’s offence outscore the average points allowed by their opponents by three points per game.

The ground game has remained efficient, despite an increase in workload and a less harried Watson has completed his passes with excellent efficiency, throwing for eight tenths of a yard further per attempt compared to the usual concessions allowed by opposing offences.

Defensively, the Texans have shaved a point per game off the usual potency of their opponent’s offence.

They’ve achieved this by totally shutting down their running game, teams are gaining seven tenths of a yard shorter per play against the Texans, and maintaining a pass defence that is only just sub-par.

Colts vs. Texans: Where is the Value?

Along with Indianapolis, with whom they inevitably share many common opponents, their 2018 schedule hasn’t been the strongest and Sunday’s match gives them the opportunity to eliminate the Colts from the race for the divisional title.

Individual defensive and offensive matchups aren’t helpful to the visiting Colts.

Houston is projected to pass the ball with excellent efficiency, whilst the Colts’ expectation is around the league average. Both sides will struggle to move the ball on the ground, but much more so for the visitors.

There are also doubts about Indianapolis sustaining their scoring rates, given their relatively poor process and so the host Texans are taken to win by a touchdown and with the aerial route the more accessible option for both sides, the total points are taken to just edge past 50.

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