Can Texans Get “Bad Taste” Out Of Mouths At Indy?
Thursday night football returns to Indianapolis this week with a matchup between the rival Houston Texans (10-4) and Indianapolis Colts (1-13). With Peyton Manning out for the year, and the Colts struggling mightily, the rivalry has somewhat lost its luster this season, but the Colts would love to put a damper on the Texans’ recent winning ways and play the role of spoiler.
Indy is coming off of their first win of the season, avoiding the would-be infamous 0-16 season. They defeated the Tennessee Titans, who looked lifeless and disinterested in the game as a whole. The Colts won the game 27-13, thanks in large part to three forced turnovers and a huge day running the ball.
The talk of the Texans’ locker room has been the eagerness to go play Thursday night and get the “bad taste” out of their mouths from Sunday’s embarrassing loss to the 5-9 Panthers. The Texans, in front of a raucous and excited home crowd, laid an egg and were beaten soundly in every facet of the game. They lost 28-13, and in the words of coach Kubiak, T.J. Yates finally played “like a 5th round rookie”.
Just like the Panthers, the Colts have nothing to lose. They will come ready to play and they will leave it all out on the field. The Texans still have an outside shot at a first round bye, but they would need to win the last two games of the season, plus they would likely need Baltimore or New England to lose one of their last two games. However, what most Texans fans want is to see the struggling Texans offense and T.J. Yates turn things around before the start of the playoffs.
Houston Offense Vs Indianapolis Defense
To steal a line from Dave Chappelle, “What can we say about the Colts’ defense that hasn’t already been said about Osama Bin Laden?”
Indianapolis is the proud owner of the 28th ranked defense in the NFL. They have given up 42 offensive touchdowns in 14 games, which averages out to an astounding 3 offensive touchdowns per game. They give up a total of 28.6 points per game, surrender 385.1 yards per game, and have forced just 12 turnovers in 14 games this season. If there ever was a defense for the Texans offense to right the ship against, this would be the one.
Since Matt Schaub went down, the Texans are averaging just 17.5 points per game. While the offense has been able to move the ball down the field in spurts, failure in the red zone, turnovers (seven in the last two games), and drive-killing penalties have prevented T.J. Yates and the offense from being able to find the end zone.
In their win against the Titans last week, Indianapolis forced a season high three turnovers and limited the Titans to just 66 yards rushing. While they only recorded one sack (they have only 22 all season), they were able to prevent big offensive plays by the Titans. Indianapolis will likely employ the same strategy against the Texans that Carolina did, playing soft zone coverage and taking away the big play. They want to bend but not break.
To counter this, the Texans must have a run-heavy game plan and find a way to beat the Colts deep. In last week’s loss, 10 of T.J. Yates’ 19 completions were to running backs. That means way too much checking down, and T.J. needs to start trusting his arm and his receivers more, throwing the ball downfield with greater frequency. He needs to find a way to hit Jacoby Jones on a deep route Thursday night.
Houston ran the ball to the clip of six yards per carry last week on the Panthers, so it should go without saying that they need to run the ball early and often against this generous Indy rush defense (28th in NFL).
If the Texans lose this game, it will be because they turned the ball over on offense. They must protect the ball and not beat themselves.
Colts Offense Vs Texans Defense
Indianapolis has the 31st ranked offense in the NFL. They have not had any stability at the quarterback position all season, and as a result have had a tough go trying to put points on the board. For the first time all season last Sunday, though, they played a solid game and let their defense do the work.
The Colts had a fantastic day running the ball last Sunday, going for 205 yards, and they didn’t turn the ball over once.
Meanwhile, the Texans gave up more than 19 points in a game for the first time in seven games last week against the Panthers, giving up 28. This was thanks in large part to turnovers by the offense, but they could not make big stops when they needed them. The 80 yard 4th quarter touchdown drive by the Panthers with the game within one score was a prime example.
With that said, Houston is still the #2 defense in the NFL, and they are giving up just 16.9 points per game. Indianapolis will have a whale of a time trying to move the ball against an angry defense that just got whooped four days earlier by a rookie quarterback.
Indianapolis will try to use their speed at the skill positions to catch Houston napping. The Texans gave up some big plays last week, and the Colts will try to exploit Kareem Jackson’s weakness of tracking the deep ball. They will test Jackson and Jason Allen by sending Pierre Garcon deep to try for the big play.
Houston must play disciplined defense this week. The Colts may not be able to put together long, methodical drives, but they have explosive playmakers such as Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon, and running back Donald Brown showed off his playmaking ability last week with his 80 yard touchdown run.
The Texans would also like to get back to their turnover-forcing ways on defense, and help add to Indianapolis’ total of 23 turnovers in 14 games. The best way to make that happen is for Connor Barwin and his 10 ½ sacks to get heavy pressure on Dan Orlovsky. If the Texans win or even tie the turnover differential in this game, they should come away with a victory.
For the Colts to pull off the upset, they must force rookie T.J. Yates into more turnovers. If they can give their offense a short field to work with, it won’t matter how good the Texans’ defense is. Eventually they will give up some points.
For the Texans, T.J. Yates is the X-Factor. He has to trust his arm and get better at his pre-snap reads. He needs to know the coverage, and know where his receivers are going to be. This is a great opportunity against a soft defense for Yates to gain some confidence and grow up as a young player. Of course, we said the same thing last week, didn’t we?
The Texans put on a pathetic performance in front of their home fans last week, and they are rightfully angry about it. Indianapolis is catching this defense at the wrong time. They will be fired up for national television, but likewise, the Colts won’t let themselves be embarrassed in their house. The Texans defense will find a way to force some turnovers, and the Colts will fall to the Texans, 23-13.
Bold Prediction: The Texans hold the Colts to under 150 yards of total offense for the game
- Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts (rattleandhumsports.com)