Right Back In It
Indianapolis, IN - Considering the dominant run the Indianapolis Colts have had atop the AFC South in recent years, their current position is likely an unfamiliar one.
Looking to chip away at their four-game deficit in the division, the Colts on Sunday aim for their third straight victory while improving to 13-1 all time against the struggling Houston Texans.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Colts -9 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 69% of bets for this game have been placed on Colts -9 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
Indianapolis (5-4) has posted a 25-8 record en route to winning the division each of the last five seasons. The only time that it has failed to come away with the crown was in 2002 - the first year the NFL went to an eight-division format - finishing one game behind Tennessee.
The Colts are in second entering Sunday - four back of the first-place Titans with three divisional contests remaining, the first coming against the last-place Texans (3-6).
Indianapolis has been particularly successful against Houston.
The Colts have won 12 of 13 all-time matchups, and three straight including a 31-27 victory on Oct. 5 in Houston. Indianapolis also has won all six home meetings by an average of 19.3 points.
But despite their dominance over the Texans, coach Tony Dungy knows that his team can't afford a letdown.
"We know we can't have a lapse," he told the Colts' official Web site. "Houston has not won a game up here, but if they beat us it will be a big setback, so I know we'll come out and prepare because it's not like we have a two-or-three game lead and that's good.
"I think we'll have the attention of the players and they'll continue to work like they have the last three weeks when we were playing division leaders."
Indianapolis is coming off of back-to-back wins over first-place AFC clubs. Following an 18-15 home victory over New England, tied for the East's top spot in Week 8, the Colts beat the North-leading Steelers 24-20 last Sunday for their first win in Pittsburgh in over 40 years.
Peyton Manning connected with Dominic Rhodes on a 17-yard touchdown with 3:04 left to cap a scoring drive that was set up by an interception.
"We definitely needed the game as far as confidence," Rhodes said.
He had two catches for 24 yards, but rushed seven times for just 28 yards as part of an Indianapolis ground game that is averaging a league-low 69.2 yards per contest. Houston's run defense, though, has allowed an average of 130.7 yards.
With a poor rushing offense, the Colts have looked to Manning, who went 21-for-40 for 240 yards and three touchdowns last week. He is averaging 249.8 yards per game and thrown 15 TDs this season, but faces a Texans pass defense that has yielded 198.7 yards per game.
Manning has completed 72.1 percent of his passes for 3,539 yards and 31 TDs while starting all of the Colts' 13 contests against the Texans. His yardage and touchdown totals are the most any quarterback has versus Houston.
Manning went 25-for-34 for 247 yards with two TDs as Indianapolis rallied from a 17-point, fourth-quarter deficit against Houston last month. The Colts scored on a pair of fumbles by quarterback Sage Rosenfels before Manning connected with Reggie Wayne on the winning touchdown with 1:54 left.
Rosenfels finished 21-for-33 for 246 yards and a touchdown in that outing, and also struggled playing in place of the injured Matt Schaub in last Sunday's 41-13 loss to visiting Baltimore.
"(He) had a couple of bad breaks (Sunday) and a couple of decisions he has to correct," coach Gary Kubiak said of Rosenfels, who went 23-for-38 for 294 yards - but was intercepted a career-high four times - in his second start of the season. "But that's not a lack of effort and we'll keep working with him."
With Schaub expected to miss possibly another month due to a knee injury, Rosenfels will try to help Houston avoid its third straight loss.
The Texans, who have finished last in the division all but once since 2002, had a three-game winning streak from Oct. 12-26 before losing at Minnesota in Week 8.
In spite of their overall struggles, the Texans have been boosted by wide receiver Andre Johnson, who had seven receptions for 66 yards on Sunday and leads the NFL with 900 yards overall. Against Indianapolis earlier this season, Johnson had nine catches for 131 yards.
Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
HOUSTON is 7-6 against the spread versus INDIANAPOLIS since 1992
INDIANAPOLIS is 12-1 straight up against HOUSTON since 1992
9 of 13 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
HOUSTON is 3-2 against the spread versus INDIANAPOLIS over the last 3 seasons
INDIANAPOLIS is 4-1 straight up against HOUSTON over the last 3 seasons
5 of 5 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at INDIANAPOLIS since 1992
INDIANAPOLIS is 4-2 against the spread versus HOUSTON since 1992
INDIANAPOLIS is 6-0 straight up against HOUSTON since 1992
5 of 6 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games played at INDIANAPOLIS over the last 3 seasons.
INDIANAPOLIS is 2-0 against the spread versus HOUSTON over the last 3 seasons
INDIANAPOLIS is 2-0 straight up against HOUSTON over the last 3 seasons
2 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries
No significant injuries.
[WR] Roy Hall missed last game %27?%27 - Knee - 11/02/08
[RB] Mike Hart IR - Knee - 10/15/08
[CB] Dante Hughes missed last game %27?%27 - Ankle - 11/02/08
[DE] Mike Pollak expected to miss at least 4 weeks. - Knee - 09/10/08
[CB] Michael Coe IR - Knee - 08/13/08
[TE] Tom Santi missed last game %27?%27 - Shoulder - 11/02/08
[RB] Clifton Dawson IR - Concussion - 11/07/08
[LB] Freddie Keiaho is upgraded to probable - Knee - 11/07/08
[CB] Kelvin Hayden is downgraded to doubtful - Knee - 11/07/08
[OG] Ryan Lilja expected to miss at least 6 weeks. - Knee - 08/09/08
[CB] Marlin Jackson IR - ACL - 10/30/08
[CB] T.J. Rushing IR - Knee - 08/25/08
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Posted: 11/13/08 1:23AM ET