The Colts get their first chance to see the new-look Texans on the road in Week 13.
After a tough loss at home to the Titans, the Colts get a chance to get back in the win column vs. the 4-7 Texans. Records can be deceiving, however, and that may be the case with the Texans here in Week 13. Houston started this season very slow, sitting at 2-6 at the halfway point in the 2020 season. However, they’ve been playing much better football as of late, winning two straight, and three of their last four. Deshaun Watson is about as good as it gets at the QB position. The Colts will have their hands full defensively.
Luckily, the Colts should be able to get back some key contributors this week after COVID-19 hit the team hard in Week 12. Getting Jonathan Taylor, Denico Autry, and DeForest Buckner back will be instrumental for getting back in the win column.
There are two ways to look at this game. On one hand, the Colts are at a disadvantage because the Texans have had extra time to prepare due to playing on Thanksgiving. Yet, on the other hand, they were handed two gifts when the NFL passed out suspensions for Texans wide receiver Will Fuller and cornerback Bradley Roby. Both are excellent players for the Texans and will be sorely missed.
Fuller currently is having his best season as a pro, on pace for 77 receptions, nearly 1,300 yards receiving, and 12 touchdowns. Coach Eberflus will sleep much better on Saturday night knowing he doesn’t have to worry about Fuller come Sunday.
Regardless, this Texans team is much better than their record shows, and with a history inside the division, they will be sure to give the Colts a fight come Sunday.
What must the Colts do to come away victorious?
1) Hold Onto the Ball
The Texans are currently fourth in the league in giveaways, with only 10 on the season; only the Packers, Chiefs, and Titans have fewer.
Luckily for the Colts, they also struggle with forcing takeaways. Currently, Houston has eight takeaways on the season, which is last in the NFL.
There is a reason that the Texans are 4-7 on the season. The Colts have to win the turnover battle to win this game.
Sometimes ,with bad teams, the easiest way to attack them is to not make mistakes. As long as the Colts don’t give this game away, they should be in a good position to win.
2) Attack Deshaun Watson
Deshaun Watson lost his No. 1 option in the passing game in the offseason in Deandre Hopkins. Yeah, that trade will go down in history for all the wrong reasons in Houston. Losing Hopkins, who is arguably the best receiver in the NFL, slowed the Texans early in the season.
However, as of late, the Texans and Watson have seemed to really get things back on track. Currently third in the league in passing yards per game, the Texans can beat you through the air in a multitude of ways.
Losing Will Fuller may be a kill shot that even Watson and the passing game can’t come back from, however. The best way to find out is to attack Watson early and often. Without his No. 1 option, who knows what Watson will look like on Sunday.
3) Run the Ball Successfully
The Texans are 31st in the league in rushing yards allowed per game. Meanwhile, the Colts get Jonathan Taylor back from the COVID list and Philip Rivers is dealing with an injury. All of these factors will lead to a run-heavy game plan for the Colts.
The Colts still aren’t running the ball with a high level of success, averaging only 104 yards per game and 3.7 yards per carry. This is an excellent game to change that narrative. Something has to give. I think it will be the Texans’ run defense, as we see a heavy dosage of Nyheim Hines, Jonathan Taylor, and Jordan Wilkins.
The Colts don’t need to be perfect to win this game. But, they do need to take the Texans seriously. We have gotten down to the point in the season where playoff aspirations become reality.
The Colts need to go at least 3-2 down the stretch to have a shot at the playoffs, and 4-1 to really solidify a spot. That starts with beating teams that you’re supposed to beat, and this week is an example of a game the Colts need to win.
(Featured Image Credit: Colts.com)