NFL Free Picks: Houston Texans vs. Indianapolis Colts 11/1/10

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The Indianapolis Colts will look to avoid a second straight NFL betting defeat at home against a divisional rival when they take on the Houston Texans on MNF.

Matchup: Houston Texans @ Indianapolis Colts
Date: Monday, November 1st, 8:30 ET
Location: Lucas Oil Field, Indianapolis, IN
Game Line: Indianapolis -5.5
Over/Under 49.5

Texans Notes: The argument could be made that this is the most important game in the history of the Houston Texans. They have never won game in Indianapolis in franchise history, going 0-8 SU in eight tries, and they have never swept a season series against the Colts. At 4-2 coming into Week 8, Houston is a half game behind the Baltimore Ravens for the last Wild Card spot in the AFC and a half game in the rears of the Tennessee Titans for first place in the AFC South. A win could put the team back in first place of the division by itself and will give it a one game lead on the Colts with the tiebreaker for the rest of the season. A loss will almost certainly make the task virtually impossible to get into the postseason, especially with a very difficult schedule left to contend with. There are a number of suspensions and injuries that the Texans have to cope with as well. LB DeMeco Ryans, once a Rookie of the Year in the NFL, was put on IR last week with an Achilles tendon tear, and LT Duane Brown is going to be sitting this one out with a suspension. In the Week 1 meeting of these teams, a 34-24 win for the host Texans at Reliant Stadium, RB Arian Foster went absolutely bananas, running for 231 yards and three TDs on 33 carries. Foster has calmed down quite a bit since that point, but still is in the Top 5 in the NFL in rushing with 635 yards. WR Andre Johnson is well on his way to another 1,000 yard campaign for Houston, as he has 488 yards in just five games and will certainly be a threat to go off for a huge day in Indy on Monday Night. The problem is going to come with a secondary that many think is the worst in the league, averaging allowing 306.2 yards per game.

Colts Notes: QB Peyton Manning had a field day against Houston seven weeks ago, throwing for 433 yards and three TDs in one of the best days of his career. His problem this week is going to be that 22 of his receptions from that Week 1 loss are out of the lineup. WR Austin Collie is listed as doubtful with a hand injury, while TE Dallas Clark's season is over with a wrist injury that he was put on IR for last week. The injury woes continue with DB Jacob Lacey and RB Joseph Addai, both of which are doubtful as well. P Pat McAfee has been suspended to boot. We already know that long term absentees S Bob Sanders, DT Antonio Johnson and S Melvin Bullitt are out for this one as well. Needless to say, Manning has a lot of problems to contend with on both sides of the ball. Still, he'll have WR Reggie Wayne and WR Pierre Garcon, and should be getting back WR Anthony Gonzalez for the first time in well over a season's worth of play. RBs Mike Hart and Donald Brown should get the majority of the carries, though we know that Manning is probably going to be throwing the ball 50+ times in this game against this secondary. The rush defense for Indy is about as woeful as the pass defense is for Houston. However, this is no surprise for any NFL historians, as the Colts have always struggled trying to stop the run. This year is no exception, as they are conceding 137.3 yards per game in that department. Up front, this offensive line has kept Manning relatively clean this year with just six sacks allowed, but three of those six sacks came against these Texans. Someone is going to have to figure out how to put a hat on DE Mario Williams, who only had one sack that day, but did wreck a ton of havoc in the Indy backfield.

The Final Word: Manning knows that this is a game that could start the decline in his career, as a loss would make the road to the postseason incredibly difficult, especially at 0-3 already in division with two games against Tennessee to go. No. 18 won't let it happen. However, this game is still that important to Houston, and we have a feeling that this will be one of these games that Manning leads the troops down on a game winning drive to break the Texans' hearts. We'll take the points.

Free Pro Football Picks: Houston +5.5
Prediction: Indianapolis 27 – Houston 24

Lou Palumbo is the founder and part owner of the Sports Handicapping Community. He's been writing and posting free picks and sports handicapping strategies on the Cappersinfo forums and website for 15 years now. He enjoys handicapping just as much as he did from the very first day he built the original Cappersinfo website.

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