Bob Christ’s breakdown of Thursday Pro Football Week 16December 22, 2011 6:50 AM by Bob Christ
PRO FOOTBALL THURSDAY, Dec. 22
Only a week ago, the matchup between the Texans and Colts in Indianapolis had the look of yet another Thursday night lock. It was going to be an opportunity to take a substantial underdog against a Houston squad starting a rookie QB – 24-year-old T.J. Yates.
As Lee Corso would say: Not so fast, my friend.
As mentioned in last week’s comments about the Thursday Jacksonville-at-Atlanta game, first-year QBs often are overmatched in games when they have only three-days’ preparation time, which was the predicament facing the Jaguars’ Blaine Gabbert vs. the Falcons. Jacksonville fell behind 41-0 before Atlanta lost interest.
However, with the point spread for Thursday night artificially low thanks to last week’s home loss by Houston to Carolina, and after Indy finally got its first victory, it might not be such a good idea to automatically go against the first-year QB.
Anyway, here’s a closer look at the game:
Houston (10-4) at Indianapolis (1-13)
Time: 5:20 p.m. PT
Line: Texans by 5.5 (40)
Facts: Since 2000, the aforementioned eight rookie QBs on extra-short rest have gone 1-7 (2-6 ATS) in Thursday games. The lone win came in 2009 when Mark Sanchez, who was 7-for-15 for 104 yards, and the Jets beat Buffalo 19-13. In those eight games, the rookies had a cumulative three TD throws and 12 INTs. Their teams scored a norm of 10.5 points. … The Texans’ defense, which has dropped to No. 2 this week, was without coordinator Wade Phillips in a 28-13 loss to Carolina (surgery) and probably will be so Thursday.
Analysis: A key reason Sanchez was able to win on short prep time when others failed was because he was shielded by a running game that finished tops in the league and totaled 249 yards vs. the Bills. Houston has the league’s second-best ground game this season and likely won’t have a minus-3 turnover differential again like it did against the Panthers. And besides, Indy already is 0-3 ATS vs. rookie QBs this year.
Forecast: Texans 28, Colts 20
Last week: 6-9-1 vs. spread; 6-10 straight up
Season total: 114-101-8 (.530) vs. spread; 131-92 (.590) straight up
The NFC East has been largely unpredictable the past three seasons, with the team carrying the longest division odds at midsummer finishing first. In 2012 it was Washington at 10 to 1, in 2013 Philadelphia at 5-1 and last year Dallas at 4-1.