Seven Things To Watch For: Colts at Texans
Seven Things To Watch For: Colts at Texans
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INDIANAPOLIS – On a short week, it’s a matchup that will have serious implications on the winner of the AFC South in 2019.
The Colts are off to Houston for their annual Thursday night game, with kickoff coming at 8:20 ET.
Here are 7 things to watch for as the Colts (6-4) and Texans (6-4) have their second meeting of the season:
1. Making Up For Marlon
The loss of Marlon Mack means a far greater role for Jonathan Williams and/or Jordan Wilkins.
What we are going to find out about the Colts, until Mack’s return, is if the offensive line can turn relative unknowns in the backfield, into better than average runners.
Mack has finished some big plays this season thanks to his individual efforts, something that the Colts will be looking to duplicate with their Pro Bowl runner sidelined.
2. Houston’s Plan For Hilton
While it’s no lock that Hilton plays on Thursday night, there are some strong indications that he could return to the lineup against the Texans.
As Hilton accurately put it on Tuesday, teams defend the Colts very differently when he’s not in the lineup.
Well, it looks like Hilton’s presence could very well be back on the field against the Texans this Thursday.
How effective he will be after missing the last three weeks, along with the plan from the Texans in defending The Ghost will be interesting to watch.
3. Handling No J.J. Watt
This sounds obvious, but the Texans really miss J.J. Watt.
In last month’s meeting, Watt was a menace against the Colts. He had 6 quarterback hits and was a big reason why the Colts didn’t have a single rush for a first down.
With Watt’s season over, the Texans have allowed 6.6 yards per carry the last two weeks.
This is a totally different defense without Watt, and the necessary attention pre-snap now isn’t fixated on wherever No. 99 is lining up.
4. Kicking Dilemmas
Neither fan base will rest too easy when it’s time to kick field goals or extra points on Thursday.
We know of Adam Vinatieri’s struggles this season (75 percent on field goals, 75 percent on extra points).
Well, Houston kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn has also had his issues (72.2 percent on field goals, 82.8 percent on extra points).
The kicking dilemma will be heavily watched in a game with such evenly matched teams facing off.
5. Pierre Desir’s Return
Despite practicing just 3 times since mid-October, Pierre Desir is ready to go on Thursday.
Desir has fully embraced a big role in trying to slow down DeAndre Hopkins in prior meetings.
His return this week should give Matt Eberflus some comfort in implementing a similar game plan that has worked in previous matchups with Houston.
6. Neutralizing Watson
In the Colts winning three straight games over the Texans, they’ve done a really nice job in containing the extremely dynamic Deshaun Watson.
That plan will get Kenny Moore and Malik Hooker back this week, after both guys missed the first meeting with Houston.
Of course, the spying ability of Darius Leonard is always vital, with the Colts having full belief in their defensive line to win against a very average Houston offensive line.
7. Situational Defense
A huge factor in the Colts beating the Texans back in Week 7 came down to situational football, particularly the red zone.
The Texans were just 2-of-5 in the red zone. The Colts were 4-of-4.
Frank Reich called it the difference in the game.
You know the Texans are going to move it offensively, but the Colts must be stout inside the 20, which has been a staple for them over the last month and a half.
Bowen’s Prediction: Texans, 27-23. Both teams have some huge injury questions going into this monumental game. The one side of the ball that appears to be the healthiest is the Houston offense. Going off that, I think the Texans pull this one out on a short week. Back in Week 7, the Texans had little issue in moving the football, but things routinely stalled out in the red zone. I see them converting another time or two inside the 20 and that being the difference. The Colts are healthier than I thought they would be this week, but the short week road trip against a team who has routinely bounced back from big losses well has me worried.