Houston Texans vs. Indianapolis Colts preview, prediction, pick: Texans want a win, not draft position
By 4pm on Sunday, the Houston Texans could be on the schedule.
Lose the regular season finale to the Indianapolis Colts and they’ll lock up the No. 1 in the NFL draft, giving them the right to take either a franchise quarterback or a game-breaking tackle at another position.
That would give Houston (2-13-1) two of the top 12 selections, thanks to a trade with the Cleveland Browns that sent quarterback Deshaun Watson north. There is also the possibility that the team could trade the top overall pick for more picks and/or veteran help at other positions.
Yardbarker’s Quick Pick
Spread: Indianapolis -2.5
Total: 38 points
This feels like fun to us because both teams are actively motivated to lose for their draft position, and each team has shown some defensive weaknesses. We’re betting sadistically to finish and feel pretty good about it. — Griffin Carroll, Yardbarker
Bet: Over 38 points
But Texans coach Lovie Smith isn’t interested in going first. His goal is to finish on a winning note in what has been a long, mostly fruitless season that has included a nine-game losing streak.
“I have been asked this question for several weeks, because we have been in that role,” he said. “Understand. We have been trying to win for a long period of time, every game. None of this has changed.
“That’s why there’s disappointment in what happened (last week). We’re going to go to work this week and do everything we can to win the last game.”
Houston played three straight games against Dallas, Kansas City and Tennessee, shocking the Titans on Christmas Eve in Nashville, before laying an egg last week in a 31-3 home loss to new AFC South leader Jacksonville .
The Texans trailed 21-0 less than four minutes into the second quarter and never threatened to get back into the game. It was their 10th loss in 11 games.
“Everybody has high goals to win every game, to win the division,” Smith said. “There are a lot of things we didn’t achieve. Was it realistic? I don’t know, but those were our goals.”
Indianapolis failed to realize his summer dreams. Starting with a 20-20 tie against Houston in Week 1, the Colts have repeatedly shot themselves in the foot with turnovers and other mistakes.
Coach Frank Reich’s midseason firing of Jeff Saturday failed to spark much, other than a Nov. 13 win in Las Vegas. Indianapolis (4-11-1) has lost six straight since then, including a 38-10 setback last week in New York to the Giants.
“From a season perspective, I just haven’t played nearly enough,” he said Saturday. “There were enough mistakes that you’re just not going to cause offense in the NFL that way.”
No team has thrown more interceptions (18) or coughed up the ball more often (31) than the Colts. An offensive line that has been a source of delight in recent years hasn’t helped the team’s three quarterbacks, allowing 58 sacks. Four more on Sunday would match the franchise record.
Sam Ehlinger will start Sunday with Matt Ryan as the backup. Nick Foles was knocked out in the second quarter last week with a season-ending rib injury. Ehlinger was 9-for-14 last week with his first NFL pass to Michael Pittman.