at HOUSTON TEXANS
Kickoff: Sunday, September 11, 1:00 p.m. EDT
Line: Houston -9, Total: 43.5
The Texans hope to start 2011 the same way they began 2010, with a convincing home win over Indianapolis, and with Peyton Manning unlikely to be on the field, they have a great chance to do it. NFL scores.
Manning has never missed a regular season start, but he’s doubtful to play in the opener because of slow recovery from offseason neck surgery and a lingering back injury. Indy will start QB Kerry Collins in his place, an obvious downgrade. Houston has injury issues of their own, with RB Arian Foster nursing a hamstring injury. A year ago the Texans nosedived after a 34-24 win over Indy in Week 1, finishing a disappointing 5-10 SU and 4-10-1 ATS. But they addressed their biggest weakness—the defensive secondary—in free agency, adding cover corner Johnathan Joseph and rangy FS Danieal Manning. They’ll also have a new 3-4 defensive scheme under new coordinator (and former Cowboys head coach) Wade Phillips. Even if Foster is limited, the Texans should dominate Indy’s defensive front and the Colts offense won’t be able to keep up. Look for the Texans to cover the big spread. HOUSTON is the pick.
The Texans never had trouble moving the ball even before Foster emerged as a star, and the Colts haven’t been able to stop anyone from running on them. The Texans running game should be fine, even if it’s Derrick Ward (6.3 yards per carry last year) and Ben Tate carrying the load. However, Foster will be missed because in two matchups with the Colts last season, he had 48 carries for 333 yards (6.9 YPC) and four TD. The passing game should be better with a healthy TE Owen Daniels teaming up with All-Pro WR Andre Johnson as QB Matt Schaub’s top targets. NFL spreads.
The most intriguing part of Houston’s revamped defense will be 6-foot-6, 280-pound Mario Williams making the move from 4-3 end to 3-4 outside linebacker. But regardless, Williams’ primary role will be rushing the passer, so he should be fine. Houston is also high on rookie DE J.J. Watt. The draft’s 11th overall pick should start immediately.
The Colts brought in Collins as insurance for Manning, and he provides them with a solid veteran signal caller. He’ll also get a boost from the healthy returns of TE Dallas Clark and WR Austin Collie. The offense should also benefit from the fresh legs of RB Joseph Addai. But even with the threat of Manning and the passing game last year, Indy averaged just 3.8 yards per carry, 27th in the NFL. There’s a good chance this offense will look ordinary at best with Manning gone. NFL lines.
All Week 1 Previews
New Orleans Saints at Green Bay Packers
Atlanta Falcons at Chicago Bears
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
New York Giants at Washington Redskins
Philadelphia Eagles at St. Louis Rams
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens
Minnesota Vikings at San Diego Chargers
Dallas Cowboys at New York Jets
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos