The Indianapolis Colts are hoping Andrew Luck will be back under center when they visit the struggling Houston Texans on Thursday night in an AFC South matchup. Luck missed the first game of his career in last week’s 16-13 overtime win over Jacksonville due an injured right shoulder, but Colts coach Chuck Pagano said his quarterback is “trending in the right direction.”
Luck told reporters he is not giving any “credence” to a report that he is dealing with a subluxation of his throwing shoulder and said he is preparing to start against Houston. “I don’t think I’m necessarily where I would want to be today in a perfect, perfect world. But better every day,” Luck said. The Texans are having quarterback issues of their own, but coach Bill O’Brien said he is sticking with Ryan Mallett, who replaced Brian Hoyer after Week 1. Indianapolis has won five in a row over the Texans and 15 straight against division opponents.
TV: 8:25 p.m. ET, CBS, NFL Network.
LINE HISTORY: The game has opened at a Pick, with Andrew Luck’s status still up in the air. The total has opened at 44.5.
Colts – QB A. Luck (probable Thursday, shoulder), QB M. Hasselbeck (probable Thursday, illness), CB G. Toler (probable Thursday, neck), TE D. Allen (probable Thursday, ankle), RB F. Gore (probable Thursday, foot), CB V. Davis (probable Thursday, foot), RB T. Varga (questionable Thursday, concussion), S M. Adams (questionable Thursday, neck), LB J. Freeman (questionable Thursday, groin), LB B. Werner (questionable Thursday, hamstring), DE H. Anderson (questionable Thursday, foot), DE K. Langford (questionable Thursday, back).
Texans – RB A. Foster (probable Thursday, groin), LB B. Cushing (probable Thursday, foot), RB C. Polk (probable Thursday, knee), T D. Brown (probable Thursday, hand), S E. Pleasant (probable Thursday, thigh), LB J. Clowney (probable Thursday, knee), CB J. Joseph (probable Thursday, hip), S L. Ballentine (questionable Thursday, knee), RB J. Grimes (questionable Thursday, knee), LB J. Dent (questionable Thursday, hamstring), S Q. Demps (questionable Thursday, hamstring), WR C. Shorts (questionable Thursday, shoulder), LB W. Mercilus (questionable Thursday, thigh), WR N. Washington (doubtful Thursday, hamstring).
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Colts (-1) – Texans (+3) + home field (-3) = Texans +1
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “After watching the Colts barely escape at home against Jacksonville, it?s very clear. Without Andrew Luck in the lineup, Indy is no better than the Jaguars. And Despite an ongoing quarterback controversy, a struggling offensive line and no running game to speak of, the Texans continue to play at the fastest pace in the NFL on offense.” – Covers Expert Teddy Covers.
ABOUT THE COLTS (2-2): Wide receiver Andre Johnson was a dominant force during a 12-year tenure with the Texans, racking up 1,012 career receptions, but he has labored in his first season with Indianapolis and does not have a catch in either of his past two games. Running back Frank Gore is also off to a slow start with the Colts, who survived three missed field goals by the Jaguars before prevailing last week behind 40-year-old quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. Indianapolis’ defense has been vulnerable through the air, allowing 268 yards passing per game while registering only five sacks.
ABOUT THE TEXANS (1-3): Mallett was benched in favor of Hoyer during last week’s 48-21 loss at Atlanta after completing 12-of-27 passes for a season-low 150 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. O’Brien also is sticking with Mallett despite the fact that he owns a completion percentage of 51.8 percent. Arian Foster made his season debut after returning from groin surgery, but failed to provide a lift to the ground game with only 10 yards rushing on eight carries. Third-year wideout DeAndre Hopkins has 31 catches and is coming off back-to-back 100-yard games.
* Colts are 4-0-1 ATS in their last five meetings.
* Favorite is 3-0-1 ATS in their last four meetings.
* Over is 8-2 in the last 10 meetings in Houston.
* Home team is 7-2-1 ATS in the last 10 meetings.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The public is split right down the middle for this game at this point.