After a heartbreaking loss on national television Monday night, the Indianapolis Colts look to rebound against the Houston Texans at home. Fans have seen the Colts go from 1-5 into the playoffs, but I wouldn’t afford this current team the same luxury. This is a must-win game at home for the Colts. The Texans are a reeling team whose only win this season came in week one against the Jaguars. Rookie quarterback Davis Mills is starting for Houston; while he had a good coming out game last week against the Patriots, this should be a redemption opportunity for a Colts defense that fell flat in the second half against the Ravens. The Colts need to make this a statement divisional win at home, and I expect them to win by multiple scores.
What to watch for:
How does the Colts defense respond to the uninspiring performance they put forth in the second half of Monday’s game? The Bills shut out the Texans’ offense two weeks ago and rebounded somewhat last week against Bill Belichick and the Patriots by putting up 22 points in a game where rookie Davis Mills went 21/29 for 312 yards and three touchdowns. Will the Colts’ secondary be healthy enough to hold up against a limited Texans passing attack? Will the pash rush improve with the return of Kwity Paye? This week the questions fall mostly on the defense, as they have no excuses not to shut the Texans offense down completely.
Offensively the biggest question mark is consistency, especially from Carson Wentz. Wentz moved the Colts’ offense with ease on Monday night, playing the best game of his young Colts career. Can Wentz follow up Monday’s performance with another stellar showing against a lesser defense? The Texans rank 30th in both run and pass defense, according to NFL.com, meaning the Colts offense should be able to consistently move the football on the ground or in the air. If the Colts are going to become more proficient in converting red zone opportunities, this week will be the time to gain confidence in their red zone playcalling and execution.
An added section this week for special teams, how is the kicking game handled with Michael Badgley, who was just signed this week?
For once, the Colts may not be the most injury-riddled team on Sunday. As of Thursday, the Colts had the following players not participate in practice:
- Rodrigo Blankenship
- Braden Smith
- Anderson Sendejo
- Kemoko Turay
- Jordan Wilkins
Darius Leonard, Xavier Rhodes, and Rock Ya-Sin were limited on Thursday and hopefully will suit up on Sunday.
For the Texans, Deshaun Watson is out, obviously. Along with him, Justin Britt, Laremy Tunsil, Rex Burkhead, and Mark Ingram all didn’t practice on Wednesday. With multiple starters out for the Texans along the offensive line, the Colts defensive line will hopefully take advantage of backups and put pressure on the rookie quarterback.
Keys to winning:
Three words. Pressure up front. When Davis Mills drops back to pass on Sunday, DeForest Buckner, Kwity Paye, Grover Stewart, and Tyquan Lewis should be feasting on replacement tackle Geron Christian and the rest of Texans banged-up line. Offensively, Frank Reich needs to keep the ball on the ground with Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines, and Marlon Mack. Until the Texans can prove that they can stop the run, the Colts should continue to use the momentum they gained by gashing the Ravens defense on Monday. The Colts should emphatically win this game if fans expect them to make a playoff run. Now is the time for this team to kick the season into high gear and begin producing W’s as many envisioned in the preseason.