This time last year there were serious question marks over whether or not quarterback Andrew Luck would ever play again, but fast-forward 12 months and Luck is preparing to lead the in-form Indianapolis Colts into Saturday’s wildcard play-off with the Houston Texans (Texans 5/6, Colts EVS – Moneyline).
Luck missed the entire 2017 season after undergoing shoulder surgery and it was in the balance if he’d ever be seen in the NFL again, or if he did return, whether ot not he would come close to his pre-operation levels.
Fortunately for the Colts, the 29-year-old has exceeded all expectations, throwing for 4,593 yards and 39 touchdowns en route to landing the Pro Football Focus’ Comeback Player of the Year award (Luck – Over 300.5 Passing Yards v Texans – 10/11).
Luck has had a lot of help from the best offensive line in the NFL, with the men in front of him allowing the fewest sacks in the NFL this year, while his receiving core continues to exceed expectations.
Helped by a defence boosted by rookie Darius Leonard, the Colts won nine of their final 10 matches of the regular season to go from 1-5 to 10-6 and book their place in the play-offs for the first time since 2014.
The reward for their efforts is a third meeting of the year with the divisional rivals Houston, who became the first team in NFL history to start 0-3 before going on to claim their division, the AFC South.
The road side came out on top in each of the two games during the regular season, with the Texans claiming a 37-34 overtime win in September before the Colts won 24-21 in December (Texans 20/23 -1.5 Handicap).
That loss was one of two the Texans endured in their final five matches as they stumbled across the finishing line, with the offensive line giving up 62 sacks, the most in the NFL.
It would have been more were it not for the elusiveness of quarterback DeShaun Watson, who enjoyed his own comeback year after he ruptured a cruciate ligament.
On the other side of the ball, Houston have finally been able to pair JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney together for a whole season after years of injury frustration. They have combined for 25 sacks so will test the heralded Colts line this weekend.
Betfred are offering a host of #PickYourPunt markets for the first game of wildcard weekend, including both teams to score a defense/special teams touchdown at 25/1.
Odds subject to change.