NFL line watch: Colts backers should act fast
Each week during the pro football season, Covers Expert Art Aronson looks at the NFL odds and tells you which spread to bet now, which one to bet later, and which total to watch as the week plays out.
Spread to bet now
Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts (-6)
If you like the Colts to bounce back from their 42-28 drubbing in Cincinnati last week and hand the Texans a 12th straight loss, I'd recommend jumping on this line as soon as possible. As of Monday afternoon, there is still a -6 available but 6.5's have already started to become the predominate number, with even a 7 on the board as well.
Indianapolis beat Houston 27-24 back in Week 9, a contest in which it was trailing 21-3 heading into the break. Interestingly, that was the game that ex-Texans head coach Gary Kubiak collapsed at half time with the heart issues (Kubiak of course was sacked after last week's 27-20 setback at Jacksonville).
The end of the season can't come quick enough now for Houston which has clearly thrown in the towel, with games at home versus Denver next week and at Tennessee to finish the year.
Spread to wait on
Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers (+2.5)
As mentioned above, Cincinnati had little trouble with Indianapolis last week, thrashing it 42-28. Pittsburgh though would stumble last Sunday, losing 34-28 to Miami in the closing moments, which was on the heels of a hard-fought 22-20 loss at Baltimore in Week 13.
This line opened at +2.5, but sharps have been quick to jump on the high-flying visitors, with +3 pretty much the predominating number now. If you think the home side can stop its two game slide and avenge a 20-10 setback at Cincinnati in Week 2, then I'd recommend waiting a bit closer to kickoff before getting involved.
And if you're a Bengals backer, just keep in mind that playing on the road has been their Achilles' heel for bettors for the last few seasons, coming into this contest at just 2-5-1 ATS their last eight away from friendly confines.
Total to watch
Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts (46)
Under bettors would be wise to get on this number right now. It opened at 46, which is still being offered at some books, but 45.5 has for the most part been taken over the board.
Whenever these divisional foes get together it has been a battle, as evidenced by the fact that the total has finished Under the number in five of their last six in the series. That wasn't the case back in Week 9 when the Colts stormed back for a 27-24 victory. Indianapolis scored 24 points in the second half, 15 in the fourth quarter.
But the firing of Kubiak is a clear signal that the visitors are planning for next year, and while the home side has locked up the division, there's no question that it will be looking to atone for the dismal defensive effort in Cincinnati last Sunday. Expect this number to continue to fall as the week goes on.