What Must Colts Do To Earn Critical Season Sweep Over Texans?

What Must Colts Do To Earn Critical Season Sweep Over Texans?

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What Must Colts Do To Earn Critical Season Sweep Over Texans?

How did the Colts beat the Texans back in Week 7? What must they do on Thursday to earn a season sweep over their division rivals?

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INDIANAPOLIS – The win placed the Colts alone at the top of the AFC South for the first time in nearly 4 years.


Another victory on Thursday would again place the Colts all by themselves atop the division, and in a strong lead position to win the AFC South for the first time since 2014.


The Colts are in such a spot thanks to their win 30-23 win over the Texans back in Week 7.


As normally happens in the NFL, a lot has changed for both teams since that meeting.


Let’s take a closer look at some keys from that first matchup and how they will impact things on Sunday:


-Red Zone The Difference: If you want to pinpoint just one stat that decided the Colts beating the Texans in Week 7, look at the red zone. The Texans converted just 2 of their 5 chances (scoring 23 of 35 points) and the Colts cashed in on all 4 of their red zone opportunities (scoring 28 of a possible 28 points). Entering that October 20th matchup, the Texans were not only the top red zone team in the league (71 percent), but they also were No. 1 in third-down efficiency (51 percent). The Colts held them well below those numbers (40 percent in the red zone and 33 percent on third down). The Texans moved the ball pretty well back in Week 7, but the Colts were outstanding in situational football.


-No More J.J. Watt: When Frank Reich went back and watched the film of J.J. Watt from that first meeting, the Colts head coach marveled at how much No. 99 disrupted the game. Watt had 6 quarterback hits, which is an astonishing number for one individual player. He tormented the right side of the line. Well, Watt’s 2019 season ended a few weeks ago after he tore his pectoral muscle. Without Watt, the Texans have allowed 6.61 yards per carry (which ranks 31st in the NFL, one spot ahead of the Jaguars, who the Colts just gashed ). Back in Week 7, the Colts finished the game without a single first down rush and Marlon Mack averaged just 2.2 yards per carry. The loss of Watt is massive and should allow the Colts to help gain better control of the trenches this time around.


-Defending T.Y. Hilton (if he plays): Just like last month, the Texans are again facing some key injuries in the secondary. In Week 7, Houston used journeyman cornerback Philip Gaines in a shadow role on Hilton. The final stat line on Hilton was 74 receiving yards on 6 catches (11 targets) and 1 touchdown. Even though the Texans didn’t do anything too out of the ordinary with Hilton, the Colts had other pass catchers step up in Zach Pascal (106 yards and 2 touchdowns) and Eric Ebron (70 yards and a touchdown). Hilton’s mere presence on the field matters, and it’s definitely a reason why the Colts haven’t had as much passing game success as of late. Will the addition of new corners Gareon Conley or even Vernon Hargreaves alter how the Texans defend Hilton (IF he plays)?


-Accounting For DeAndre Hopkins: The last time these two teams met was also the last time we’ve seen Pierre Desir on the field. Once Will Fuller exited in that first meeting, it allowed for the Colts to really focus Desir’s role squarely on Hopkins. Even though Hopkins did have 9 catches for 106 yards and a touchdown, the presence of Desir on Hopkins, allowed Matt Eberflus to bring heavy blitz pressure to get after Deshaun Watson. Of course, the Desir injury watch is on high alert this week. He hasn’t played in a month, and has practiced in just 3 of the past 15 actual practices. But he has a chance to give it a go with that injured hamstring on Thursday. That would be huge for a banged up Colts secondary. The Colts must have a specific plan for Hopkins when the critical situations arise.


-Darius Leonard Will Have Help: When the Colts returned from their bye week back in Week 7, that meant the return of Darius Leonard. Games against the dynamic Watson are certainly reasons why the Colts so highly coveted Leonard in the 2018 Draft. It was Leonard’s diving interception that clinched the first victory over the Texans. The good news for the Colts is they will have Leonard on Thursday, and should have Kenny Moore and Malik Hooker with him, after both of those guys missed the first meeting. Moore was really effective in last year’s matchups with the Texans.

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