Sunday Night Football: Defense makes Texans favorite over Colts

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Houston Texans linebackers Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus must be salivating at the thought of facing the Indianapolis Colts’ leaky offensive line in the Week 6 Sunday Night Football betting matchup.

The AFC South-leading Texans – in spite of a bleak recent history against their division rival – are favored by three points against the Colts at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Texans are 3-2 straight-up and against the spread, while the Colts are stumbling at 2-3 SU and ATS. Houston is 10-2 SU in their last 12 games against teams with losing records, according to the OddsShark NFL Database.

The Texans did not see Colts QB Andrew Luck in 2015, when they dethroned Indianapolis as the AFC South champion. Even though DE J.J. Watt is out for the season, the Texans’ pass rush poses problems for Luck, who has already been sacked an NFL-high 20 times and hit on another 40 passes, second-most in the league. Both Clowney and Mercilus are fearsome pass rushers. Houston is struggling in rush defense, but veteran Colts RB Frank Gore is not likely to burn them with an explosive run. Gore is more about consistent production.

Houston is 7-2 SU and ATS in their last nine home games. Texans CB Johnathan Joseph and CB Kareem Jackson will need to step up their play to contain Colts WR T.Y. Hilton, who averages more than 18 yards per reception against Houston. The Colts’ No. 2 receiver, WR Donte Moncrief (shoulder), will not play.

A main reason why the Colts are 6-1 SU and 5-1-1 ATS in the last seven editions of this matchup is Houston’s long-running struggle on offense. On that side of the ball, both the Colts’ D and Texans’ O are among the league’s worst units statistically. Quarterback Brock Osweiler and RB Lamar Miller were supposed to upgrade the offense, but neither has clicked in his new environment. Playing the Colts might provide the opportunity to break out.

The Colts’ Pro Bowl CB, Vontae Davis, will be tasked with trying to ensure the Texans continue to under-utilize WR DeAndre Hopkins, whose targets and catches are down significantly from last season. The Colts are depleted at cornerback with CB Darius Butler (hand) sidelined, so there might be opportunities for Hopkins’ counterparts, rugged Braxton Miller and speedy Will Fuller, to burn the Colts.

The Colts are 6-17-1 ATS in their last 24 games in Week 6 heading into this week’s matchup.

The total has gone under in eight of the Colts’ last 11 games against the Texans. The total has gone over in five of the Colts’ last six games against teams with winning records. The OVER/UNDER for the Sunday night matchup is up to 48.5 at online sports betting sites.

WATCH: Seahawks’ Paul Richardson pulls in absurd touchdown catch against Lions

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It took until the first round of the playoffs, but we may finally have our winner for catch of the year.

On 4th and goal at the Lions’ 2, Russell Wilson lobbed up a pass to Paul Richardson, who was completely covered by Tavon Wilson.

Richardson stuck out his left hand and pulled in a miraculous grab to give Seattle the lead.

[Watch the rest of the second half from Seattle on NBC Sports Live]

Simply amazing.

 

Seahawks, Texans are the betting favorites for Saturday’s Wild Card games

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The Seattle Seahawks’ sporadic scoring output is something to consider when looking at the big point spread against the Detroit Lions. The Seahawks are listed as eight-point favorites against the Lions in their NFC wild card matchup set for Saturday at CenturyLink Field, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Seahawks are 7-0 straight-up in their last seven home games against teams from the Eastern Time Zone and the Lions are 2-5 against the spread in their last seven road games. However, Seattle scored 10 or fewer points four times at home this season, and none of those instances came against a premier defense.

The Lions, 9-7 SU and 8-8 ATS, are coming into the playoffs on a three-loss skid. One boon to the Lions’ chances is that the Seahawks, without free safety Earl Thomas, have been hopeless at stopping deep passes. Quarterback Matthew Stafford should be able to hit a few deep shots to the likes of Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and T.J. Jones in order to compensate for a nearly nonexistent running game. That could help the Lions, who are 0-8 SU in their last eight playoff games, make it interesting.

The Seahawks, 10-5-1 SU and 7-8-1 ATS, have never lost at home in the playoffs during the Pete Carroll/Russell Wilson era. One can reasonably expect they will find some of their familiar postseason form. Seattle’s pass protection and run blocking has been problematic, so there could be opportunities to disrupt Wilson’s timing. Otherwise, WR Doug Baldwin and TE Jimmy Graham could have big nights.

The total has gone under in eight of the Lions’ last 10 games. The total has gone over in five of the Seahawks’ last six games in the playoffs.

Elsewhere, the Houston Texans are listed as four-point favorites against the Oakland Raiders in Saturday’s AFC wild card matchup.

The Raiders, 12-4 SU and 10-6 ATS, will have rookie third-stringer Connor Cook become the first NFL QB to get his first career start in the playoffs. With Cook playing instead of Derek Carr (broken fibula), Houston might not have to honor the deep pass threat and can thus commit to containing RB Latavius Murray and limiting the damage on short-range passes to WR Amari Cooper and WR Michael Crabtree.

The fact erratic Brock Osweiler is back in at QB might account for why the Texans, who are 9-7 SU and 6-9-1 ATS, are not a bigger favorite against a hobbled team. The Raiders simply haven’t stopped anyone when teams have schemed to slow down edge rushers Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin. If Osweiler can curb his tendency to be overaggressive and allow WR DeAndre Hopkins and RB Lamar Miller to have opportunities, the Texans should be able to move the ball steadily.

Keep in mind, though, that the visiting team has gone 4-0 SU and ATS in the last four editions of this matchup. The total has gone over in seven of the Raiders’ last 10 games.  The total has gone under in nine of the Texans’ last 12 games at home.