Colts Must Adjust Blueprint To Beat Texans For Third Straight Time

Colts Must Adjust Blueprint To Beat Texans For Third Straight Time

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Colts Must Adjust Blueprint To Beat Texans For Third Straight Time

In looking ahead to a pivotal matchup with the Houston Texans in Week 7, the Colts face a stiff challenge. What are the keys to beating the Texans for a third straight time?

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INDIANAPOLIS – In less than a month last season, the Indianapolis Colts traveled to Houston for a pair of ‘must have’ games to keep their season going.

And in both meetings, the Colts dominated the line of scrimmage and did an outstanding job in limiting the incredible playmaking ability that Deshaun Watson brings on an every down basis.

But last year’s exact blueprint won’t solve everything for the Colts in their tilt with Houston this Sunday, with many divisional implications on the line.

For one, the Texans have a much more balanced and deeper skill group.

All-Pro wideout DeAndre Hopkins has help at wide receiver with the explosive Will Fuller (who missed both December and January meetings against the Colts last yer) and a healthy Keke Coutee working underneath. Newcomer Kenny Stills is another accomplished wideout, although his health is in question for this weekend.

Houston has recovered from Lamar Miller tearing his ACL to find a complementary backfield of Carlos Hyde (426 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns) and Duke Johnson (6.5 yards per carry).

It’s the run game element to game-planning for Houston that Matt Eberflus points to as a difference in getting ready for the Texans compared to the Chiefs.

“Right now, Houston’s ability to run the ball effectively has really helped them,” the defensive coordinator says. “They’ve done a great job of that throughout the course of this year and I certainly think that helps any offense when you’re able to run the football the way they have been able to run it. It certainly opens up a lot of things for skill players on the perimeter of their offense.”

The Texans are achieving desired balance in 2019. They rank 5th in rushing yards per game, 10th in passing yards per game, 8th in scoring offense.

An offensive line that has been much ridiculed has played better in recent weeks (although they will be missing rookie right tackle Tytus Howard this weekend). Watson hasn’t been sacked in the past two games, albeit against bottom of the pack pass rush units in Kansas City and Atlanta.

In both of the road victories last year, the Colts defensive line set the tone by stifling Lamar Miller and the run game. They sacked Watson 8 times, thanks to some consistent pressure from blitzing cornerback Kenny Moore.

Hopkins was held to just 9 catches for 63 total yards on 20 targets. It was an incredible performance by Pierre Desir and the Indy secondary.

The Colts held the Texans to 28 combined points in those two massive victories.

Now in 2019, the Colts still have to deal with the obvious in Watson and Hopkins, but there's a few more things on the checklist to account for when playing Houston.

With more quality depth in the Houston skill group this time around though, will the Colts be able to win their third straight over the Texans?

“It matters a little bit,” Frank Reich says of knowing what worked against the Texans last year. “We factor all of it in. We’re always progressing and moving on and feel like we’re getting better. Really our DNA, it starts with who we want to be. On offense, it starts up front running the football. On defense, the same thing, stopping the run. Those are areas of emphasis, they’ll always be areas of emphasis. In our games against Houston last year, I think those were big, big stats.”

Just one game after coming up with a defensive performance no one saw coming, the Colts encounter another difficult test, and one that looks a tad more different than last year.

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