INDIANAPOLIS – After their two longest road trips of the 2020 season, the Colts are back home in Week 15.
With a win over the Texans this Sunday at 1:00 PM, and just a little help elsewhere, the Colts will be on the verge of clinching a playoff berth.
Here are 7 things to watch for as the Colts (9-4) face the Texans (4-9) for the second time in three weeks:
1. Magic Of Watson
Just pop in the Week 13 film again, in case you already forgot.
Deshaun Watson, no matter the personnel around him, is a special talent.
The Colts got him on the ground for 5 sacks in that first matchup, yet Watson was still magical in extending plays and his legs were a massive reason why the Texans kept up in the shootout feel of the first half. Rush discipline, with hopefully DeForest Buckner playing through an ankle injury, must be even more consistent for the Colts on Sunday.
2. T.Y.’s Domination
Do you ever wonder what Texans fans think when they hear the name ‘T.Y. Hilton?’
Hilton did it again to the Texans in Week 13 (8 catches for 110 yards and a touchdown) and Houston has had some injuries in the secondary since that first meeting.
Again, while Hilton’s production against the Texans seems to be a constant, his presence alone should open things up for some other skill guys.
3. Continue To Protect
For me, easily the most consistent aspect to the Colts offense this season has been the pass protection.
Without Anthony Castonzo in the first matchup, the Colts were terrific in protection early on, before that unit showed some leakage in the third quarter.
Outside of Watson, J.J. Watt is the only Texans player that should strike some fear into the Colts. Make sure you know where No. 99 is lining up and properly give attention to him.
4. More Jonathan Taylor
We stressed last week the need to feature Jonathan Taylor more. And the Colts did that.
It was in this first matchup where Taylor finally got some carries in the 4th quarter and really led the offense in the final quarter.
Taylor needs to be the definite No. 1 back for this team the rest of the way, with the normal usage of Nyheim Hines still in the game plan.
5. Long Field Goal For Hot Rod
This shouldn’t have any bearing on Sunday’s result. But it is something to think about to close out the season.
Rodrigo Blankenship has still yet to make a field goal past 44 yards in the NFL. He’s only attempted one further than that distance, and that was his chunked 50-yard miss last month.
What happens in the playoffs if the Colts are at an opponent’s 33-yard line facing a 4th-and-8 in the postseason? It would be well served for Hot Rod’s confidence to get a couple of longer attempts/makes here in the final three weeks.
6. How About Kemoko Turay?
You have to acknowledge that evaluating the pass rush against a quarterback like Deshaun Watson is a bit unfair. The game plan is so unique against a guy like him.
But it would be nice to get Kemoko Turay going a bit.
Turay has played 39 total snaps in 4 games this season, recording 3 total tackles (2 solo). He’s yet to record a quarterback hit or sack. He did practice FULL this week for the first time since his return.
7. Apply The Pressure
This applies to not only the Texans but the rest of the AFC playoff contenders.
If the Colts can jump on the Texans early, they could go quietly.
And, of course, getting another win in the division would keep the Colts in the playoffs and put continued pressure on teams like the Titans, Browns, Dolphins, Ravens and Raiders.
Bowen’s Prediction: Colts 30-20. This has the possibility to be a game where the Colts get a multi-score lead early and don’t look back. Yes, the Texans have a tremendous talent at quarterback who can stress a defense every single play. But they also got manhandled by the Bears last week, allowing a terrible Chicago offense to shred them. The Colts know that one slip-up will cause a ton more anxiety in the final two weeks of the season. I see the Colts continuing to ride Taylor, while forcing enough stops to control this game from start to finish. Houston is just too depleted to stay in this one for 60 minutes. A lot has changed personnel wise, too, for the Texans since Week 13, not to mention getting waxed by the Bears.