Colts vs Texans Thursday Night Preview
It’s a battle for first place in the Division and we get the showdown on Thursday Night! A little middle of the week treat for us football fans. There hasn’t been a close game yet on Thursday nights this season. The closest margin of victory has been 20 points, and it has happened twice. The home team is 4-1, and the one team that lost at home was the Washington Redskins, who… are just bad. Nonetheless, we have a battle where J.J. Watt and his defense are going to try to slow down Andrew Luck and his high octane offense. It should be fun!
How do the Colts look so far this year?
The Colts started this year “struggling” by losing to the Broncos and Eagles in back-to-back weeks. They had opportunities in both games. They spotted the defending AFC Champs 24 points and came all the way back, but ultimately fell 31-24. Then they should have beaten the Eagles, on their second Primetime game in two weeks, but due to some questionable play calling down the stretch, they end up losing on a last second 36 yard field goal.
When a team is struggling and unable to finish games, what’s the best medicine? Winning. And what’s the best way to win in the NFL? Play the Jaguars. The Colts traveled down to Jacksonville and put it on the Jags 44-17. They were able to continue their ways, winning 41-17 by taking advantage of a Tennessee Titans team that was playing without their starting quarterback.
Last week was the first real test the Colts had since they played the Eagles in Week 2. In what could only be described as an ugly, defensive bout, the Colts overcame four turnovers to win 20-13. Even with All-Pro Linebacker Robert Mathis out for the season with an injury, the Colts were able to get to Joe Flacco four times. Luck was only sacked once, but he was pressured and hit several times, twice helping cause an interception.
Where will the Colts finish in the AFC South?
There wasn’t much good to take from the Colts offensive production this week, but you can credit the Ravens’ defense for that. However, the Colts defense came to play, giving less than 300 total yards of offense, forcing three turnovers, four sacks, and getting the Ravens’ defense off the field on third down (1-11 on 3rd down). The Colts only gave up 90 yards rushing, which sounds pretty good, until you look at the fact that the Ravens only ran the ball 15 times, averaging six yards per rush. We’ll get back to this later.
How do the Texans look so far this year?
The Texans have won more games in this short season than they won all of last year. They are definitely improved from last year, but I don’t think they are quite up to where they were a couple of years ago. They started this year on a nice, little two game winning streak; however, they beat a bad Washington team and really bad Oakland team. In those two games, star running back Arian Foster had big games totaling 241 yards rushing and a touchdown. He will be one of the key factors for the Texans if they want to beat the Colts.
The Texans then lost to their first quality team, the New York Football Giants, which started the Giants current three game winning streak. Foster was out of this game due to injury and the Texans had a hard time getting their offense going. It seemed that when they did start to move the ball, they turned it over, which killed any and all momentum they started to gain.
The win against the Buffalo Bills, if it’s remembered at all, will be remembered as the JJ Watt show. He had five tackles, nine QB hits, and … oh yeah, an 80 yard interception returned for a touchdown. Besides that, there wasn’t anything exciting to note about this game.
Where will the Texans finish in the AFC South?
Then came this week, a BIG GAME, the battle of Texas: the Texans vs the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys came into the game on a three game winning streak and left with a four game winning streak. This felt like more than a football game. It was a game of pride. Demarco Murray, Cowboys running back, came into the game leading the league in rushing, and he didn’t disappoint with 136 rushing yards, but Foster didn’t want us to forget about him either. He had a monster game: 157 yards on 23 carries and two touchdowns. He definitely won that battle, but unfortunately his team lost this war. The clear reason for the Cowboys’ victory was in the passing game...the Cowboys have one, and in a league where the rules favor those who throw the ball, you have to have a passing game.
Colts vs Texans
It’s a short week for both teams, and the Colts are traveling to Houston for this AFC South Showdown. The Colts come in with a three game winning streak, but I wouldn’t consider them to be the hot team after last week’s win felt a lot like a loss. The Texans are coming off of a loss and are looking to stay atop the division. I think the game will come down to a few things:
Yes, this is the obvious answer to games when making a prediction, but there is a reason why everyone reverts back to turnovers. They are incredibly crucial in this game. Giving your opponent the ball and taking away your own chance of scoring is never something you want to do. The statistics say that Houston has the advantage here, as they have turned over their opponents 12 times and given it away eight. Where the Colts have only turned over their opponents 10 times and given it away eight. I think the Colts will win this turnover battle, though. The Colts have intercepted six passes in their last four games (the only game they failed to pick off the QB was the Broncos… and that’s Peyton Manning…). Fitzpatrick has thrown five interceptions so far this year, and I think he will throw a couple more Thursday night.
Who will win 3rd Down? The statistics say the Colts. They are converted third downs at 44.1% for 12th best in the NFL, compared to the Texans at 39.7% for 20th in the NFL. On the Defensive side of the ball, both teams do a pretty good job at getting the other team off the field, but the Colts are second best at 32.1% compared to Houston’s 7th best 34.9%.
Edge: Slight edge to the Colts
Time of Possession
If the Texans want to win this game, they are going to have to keep the Colts’ high powered offense off of the field. If they do this, I think they have a good shot at winning this game; however, the Colts lead the league in time of possession at an astounding 36 minutes and 23 seconds per game. Foster could have a lot to do with this, and if Houston does win, I think Foster will be the reason.
Offensive and Defensive Line
The Texans have JJ Watt...do I need to say anymore? No, but I will. The Colts line play has been getting a lot better, especially on the offensive side of the ball, but Watt is going to have his way with the Colts, I just hope he buys them dinner first.
This is the biggest reason I think the Colts will win. Andrew Luck is just better than Fitzpatrick. He is athletic enough that he should be able to buy himself some time to, at the very, least throw the ball away with Watt pursuing him. The way I recommend to compare quarterbacks is, in your mind, put them on the opposite team. Did they improve your team or hurt your team? Houston is a better team with Luck.
From the last section you know that I am picking the Colts, but I do want to point out how I think the Texans could win. This being a Thursday night and the Colts having to travel could give the Texans a slight advantage in that sense. But, as I said above, the Texans have to keep the Colts number one offense off the field. They can’t fall behind, because if they do, they don’t have a quarterback that can throw them back into the game.
Key Players for the Texans:
JJ Watt- This one is obvious, he a 6’5” 290 pound wrecking machine, and his next target is Andrew Luck. He needs to have a destructive game if he wants to give his team a chance to win.
Arian Foster- Arian Foster, despite missing a game due to injury, is the third leading rusher in the league. He is a beast and always performs well against the Colts. If he can help the Texans keep the Colts off the field, they are going to be just fine.
Key Players for the Colts:
Andrew Luck- Leading the league in passing yards (1617) and touchdown passes (14), he needs to have another good game to keep the Colts’ winning streak alive. One of the ways he can really hurt the other team is with his legs. He also has two rushing touchdowns this year, and has an uncanny way of find this first down marker on third down.
Offensive Line- I couldn’t pick just one specific player here, because Watt moves all along the line looking for the best matchup. Everyone will be up against Watt at some point in the night, and they need to be at their very best if they want to slow him down enough to earn some positive yards.
Who will win?
I think the Colts will be able to go down to Houston and get the victory. Their offense will get going again, and their defense will hold up. I do think that Arian Foster will rush for over 100 yards and have a score or two; however, the Texans will be down and forced to throw the ball, which will lead to turnovers.
Give me the Colts 31-17.