With last week's game with the San Francisco 49ers being a trap game, I would say this week's game with the Houston Texans ranks as a showdown game. The Colts (7-0) host a Texans (5-3) team that has won three straight games and comes into Lucas Oil Stadium with a lot of momentum. I would say that this game is definitely a statement game for the Colts; this is the toughest team they've faced all season. The Colts have beaten up on some cupcakes (Seattle, Tennessee, St.Louis), but this game will definitely show if this team is worthy of their undefeated record. Unfortunately, the Colts are going into this game with some key injuries. Cornerback Marlin Jackson tore his ACL on Wenesday in practice and was recently placed on injured reserve, ending his season. Linebacker Tyjuan Hagler a day earlier ruptured a biceps tendon and was also placed on injured reserve. Safety Bob Sanders saw Dr. James Andrews this week about an elbow injured suffered in last week's game with the 49ers and wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez this week finally went under the knife after suffering a setback with his injured right knee. Ugh! From that injury list, it looks as though that the Colts undefeated record might come to an end this Sunday in Indianapolis. We'll, let's see as we take a look at the matchups.
Texans Offense (8th in total offense, 12th in points per game, 3rd in passing offense, 28th in rushing offense)
Colts Defense (9th in total defense, 1st in points allowed per game, 7th in passing defense, 17th in rushing defense)
Seeing that the Colts defense struggled mightily with the 49ers offense during the first half of last week's game, if you're a Colts fan, seeing the Houston Texans offense roll into town is a pretty scary sight. Outside of the Saints and Colts, I would say that the Houston passing attack is the most dangerous in the National Football League. For the first time this year in my opinion, Peyton Manning, as far as statistics are concerned, might not be the best quarterback on the field . Texans QB Matt Schaub right now has more passing yards than Peyton Manning (Schaub 2,342, Manning 2227 ) and has more touchdown passes (Schaub 16, Manning 15). Over the past four games (Houston is 3-1 during this span) Schaub has thrown for 8 TD's and 4 INT's. Putting up the numbers that Schaub has put up this season must be pretty easy considering the weapons he has at his disposal. Wide receiver Andre Johnson is having another monster year for the Texans; currently he has 44 catches for 697 yards and 4 touchdowns. I would say that Johnson, along with Randy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald, Reggie Wayne, and Chad Ochocinco (that's still funny every time I type it) are the best wide receivers in the league right now. Texans tight end Owen Daniels was also having a career year before he suffered a season ending injury. He had 40 catches for 519 yards and 5 TD's, second only to Colts tight end Dallas Clark in catches, third in receiving yards and first in touchdowns as far NFL tight ends are concerned. Even though the stats say that the Texans struggle running the ball, don't fall asleep on their rushing attack. Last week against a stingy Buffalo defense they were able to rack up 183 rushing yards, with Ryan Moats leading the way with 126 yards on 23 carries with 3 TD's. With all of those things I just mentioned, combined with all of the injuries of the defensive side of the ball, it might be a long day for the Colts defense. In the first half of last week's game with the 49ers, the Colts defense was very poor. They couldn't stop running back Frank Gore and quarterback Alex Smith threw on the secondary with ease. However, in the second half, the Colts defense rose to the occasion, sacking Alex Smith 4 times and only alllowing 11 yards to Frank Gore on the ground. With a complete offense like the Texans coming into town, the Colts defense has to be ready for a battle. Linebackers Gary Brackett and Clint Sessions ,along with safety Bob Sanders, have to be better against the run. They're 17th in the league at stopping the run and with the game that Ryan Moats had last week, expect the Texans to test the Colts rushing defense early and often. There is good news for the Colts defense however, with the Texans passing offense playing as good as they are, the Texans will throw the ball quite a bit. This gives defensive ends Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney a chance to have big games sacking the quarterback. Currently Mathis has 6 sacks and Dwight Freeney has 8. Also expect cornerback Tim Jennings to have a lot of balls thrown his way, since he is the replacement for injured cornerback Marlin Jackson. It also wouldn't surprise me if the Texans try and get Andre Johnson matched up on Jennings and try a couple of deep passes in order to get some big plays. If the Colts defense isn't ready for a battle with the Houston offense, it will be a long day at the office.
Colts Offense (4th in total offense, tied for 6th in points per game, 1st in pasisng offense, 30th in rushing offense)
Texans Defense (16th in total defense, tied for 14th in points allowed per game, 14th in passing defense, 20th in rushing defense)
I believe that the key for the Colts offense this week is to try and establish the run. The Colts offense struggled last week against the 49ers because the 49ers were able to stop the run with four down lineman, and drop 8 back in coverage to confuse Peyton Manning. If the Colts can establish the run, the Texans defense will have to bring more men to the line of scrimmage, creating one and one matchups on the outside for wide receivers Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie. Establishing the run against the Texans might be doable, since the Texans are 20th in the league at stopping the run. The offensive line, along with running backs Joseph Addai and Donald Brown need to establish the runto help out the passing attack. If the Colts can get the running game going, I think that Peyton Manning will have a big day against the Texans secondary. Coming off of a subpar performance where he didn't throw a touchdown pass for the first time all year, I expect Peyton to have a better performance this week. The Texans are currently 14th in the league against the pass and have only intercepted the quarterback 6 times all year. The Texans have also struggled with putting pressure on the quarterback this season, only sacking the quarterback 11 times in 8 games. Defensive ends Mario Williams and Antonio Smith have underachieved this season (4 sacks between the both of them) and need to put pressure on Peyton Manning to have any shot of slowing down the Colts offense. The good news for the Texans defensive line is that Manning was sacked 3 times last week, so there's a chance that Williams and Smith could have big games. Colts tight end Dallas Clark I feel has to catch at least 8 balls for the passing game to be successful. The Texans will probably double Reggie Wayne for most of the game due to Wayne's huge game last week (12 receptions for 147 yards and one touchdown). This should give Clark some one on one opportunities down the middle of the field, and he needs to have a big game in order to keep the Texans secondary honest. With the poor game they played last week, along with the weaknesses the Texans have on defense, I expect a big performance out of the Colts offense this week.
Houston Texans (+9) 35
Indianapolis Colts 38
If you're the type of fan who likes to see defenses slug it out to a 10-7 or 13-10 final ,this game will make you throw up. With both defenses being where they are, and both offenses consistently putting up a lot of points, I expect this game to be a shoot out. Even though the Colts defense is poor against the run, due to the injury of Marlin Jackson, expect the Texans to throw the ball a lot and try to pick on cornerback Tim Jennings. I don't think the Texans offense misses a beat with the injury to Owen Daniels, Matt Schaub will be successful at throwing the ball and will have a big game. With the Houston pass rush being what it is and the lack of big plays from their secondary expect Peyton Manning, Dallas Clark, and Austin Collie to have big games for the Colts. This game will be back and forth throughout and I expect many lead changes. This games comes down to a final drive by the Colts, whether they score a late touchdown or field goal, I expect them to pull out a close one. The Colts will go 8-0 into the huge Sunday night showdown with the New England Patriots.
About the Author
Written by Andrew Gifford