2018 Colts Preview: Colts/Texans, Week 4

2017_1231_HOU_4261

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts (1-2) gear up for their second home contest (and first divisional game) of the season on Sunday when they host the Houston Texans (0-3).

This will be an emotional afternoon as the Colts honor former linebacker Edwin Jackson, who was killed this year on Super Bowl Sunday. More on that below.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

  • Sunday, Sept. 30 at 1 p.m. ET
  • Indianapolis; Lucas Oil Stadium
  • TV: CBS — Spero Dedes (play-by-play) and Adam Archuleta (color)
  • To find out what games will be on in your area, check here
  • Radio: WFNI “1070 The Fan” | WLHK “HANK FM” — Matt Taylor (play-by-play), Jim Sorgi (color) and Barry Krauss (sideline)

ALL-TIME SERIES

  • Colts lead, 25-7, and are 8-2 against the Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts have won the last two dating back to 2017.
  • Last game — Week 17 of 2017. The Colts won, 22-13.

COACHING STAFF

Colts:

  • HC Frank Reich
  • OC Nick Sirianni
  • DC Matt Eberflus
  • STC Bubba Ventrone

Texans:

  • HC/OC Bill O’Brien
  • DC Romeo Crennel
  • STC Brad Seely

LAST WEEK

Colts:

  • Lost vs. Philadelphia Eagles (2-1), 20-16 (away)

Texans:

  • Lost vs. New York Giants (1-2), 27-22 (home)

INJURY UPDATE

Colts:

  • OT Anthony Castonzo (hamstring): OUT — did not practice Wednesday, limited participant Thursday and Friday
  • TE Jack Doyle (hip): OUT — did not practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday
  • S Clayton Geathers (knee): QUESTIONABLE — did not practice Wednesday, full participant Thursday, did not practice Friday
  • OL Joe Haeg (ankle): OUT — did not practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday
  • RB Marlon Mack (hamstring): QUESTIONABLE — limited participant Wednesday, Thursday and Friday
  • DT Hassan Ridgeway (calf): OUT — did not practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday
  • LB Anthony Walker (groin): QUESTIONABLE — limited participant Thursday and Friday
  • CB Quincy Wilson (concussion): OUT — did not practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

Texans:

  • WR DeAndre Hopkins (thumb/ankle/hamstring): QUESTIONABLE — limited participant Wednesday, Thursday and Friday
  • CB Kayvon Webster (non-injury related): QUESTIONABLE — did not practice Wednesday, limited participant Thursday and Friday
  • CB Shareece Wright (shoulder): QUESTIONABLE — limited participant Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

STORYLINES/THINGS TO WATCH

  • Deshaun Watson Meets The Colts — Watson got off to a red-hot start to his career last year, accounting for 281.1 yards of offense and 3.0 touchdowns per game in seven games. He suffered an unfortunate, season-ending ACL injury before either of the Colts-Texans matchups, the Colts facing Tom Savage and T.J. Yates instead. This time around, Watson is healthy and getting back to his old ways.
  • Contain Lamar Miller — The Colts had him under control last year, but in Miller’s two matchups against the Colts in 2016, he ran wild for 300 yards and two touchdowns on 49 touches. He is still just as effective as he was before, so the Colts' defense will need to make sure they keep him under wraps.
  • Success On Third Down And Red Zone — The Colts will look to get back on track in a couple of key areas after falling flat last week. Against the Eagles, the Colts were 2-of-12 on third down (16.7 percent) and 1-of-5 in the red zone (20.0 percent). This week, the team has preached execution in improving in these areas.
  • Texans Backed Into A Corner — This is a Texans team that has way more talent than their 0-3 record would indicate. When teams like this are in this position, we can see them swing for the fences in certain situations and catch their opponent off guard. Remember Jeff Fisher’s old Tennessee Titans teams? Desperate times call for desperate measures.

INTRIGUING MATCHUPS

  • Colts RB Nyheim Hines vs. Texans LB Zach Cunningham — Cunningham is Houston’s most athletic linebacker, so he is often used in coverage. However, he has struggled in that category this year, which could mean a big day for Hines, the Colts’ primary receiving back.
  • Colts WR T.Y. Hilton vs. Texans CB Johnathan Joseph — Hilton is frequently moved around during the game, but Joseph primarily plays the defense’s right side. In their matchup late last season, the two threw hands. Will cooler heads prevail this time around, or will they continue to irk each other?
  • Colts RT Denzelle Good vs. Texans DE J.J. Watt — If Good is in fact the Colts’ right tackle on Sunday, then he will have a full plate against a resurgent J.J. Watt. Watt put up three sacks and five tackles for loss last week against the Giants. He is a game-wrecker, so he requires extra attention.
  • Colts DL vs. Texans OL — The Texans’ young offensive line has really struggled this season, averaging a grade of 55.7 among their usual starters according to Pro Football Focus. You could argue the defensive line has been the strength of the entire Colts’ roster so far, so this could be a game where they wreak havoc for the Texans.
  • Colts S Malik Hooker vs. Texans WR Will Fuller V — Simply put, Watson is tied for the NFL lead in throws downfield (19), and the Colts have a ballhawk in the secondary in Hooker. Fuller is Houston’s chief downfield threat, but Watson has thrown three interceptions on downfield throws of 20-plus yards.

REFEREE ASSIGNMENT

BETTING LINE

LEADERS

Colts:

  • Passing — QB Andrew Luck (662 yards)
  • Rushing — RB Jordan Wilkins (120 yards)
  • Receiving — WR T.Y. Hilton (179 yards)
  • Touchdowns — TE Eric Ebron, WR T.Y. Hilton (2)
  • Tackles — LB Darius Leonard (41)
  • Sacks — DL Margus Hunt, LB Darius Leonard (3.0)
  • Interceptions — CB Kenny Moore II, LB Anthony Walker (1)

Texans:

  • Passing — QB Deshaun Watson (871 yards)
  • Rushing — RB Lamar Miller (176 yards)
  • Receiving — WR DeAndre Hopkins (274 yards)
  • Touchdowns — WR Will Fuller V (2)
  • Tackles — CB Kareem Jackson (23)
  • Sacks — DE J.J. Watt (3.0)
  • Interceptions — S Tyrann Mathieu (1)

COMPARING 2018 STATS

Colts:

  • Total offense — 28th (290.0 YPG)
  • Scoring offense — 21st (20.0 PPG)
  • Passing offense — 23rd (207.7 YPG)
  • Running offense — 29th (82.3 YPG)
  • Third down offense — 2nd (49%)
  • Red zone offense — 22nd (45.5%)
  • Total defense — 15th (347.7 YPG)
  • Scoring defense — 14th (21.0 PPG)
  • Passing defense — 13th (241.7 YPG)
  • Sacks — 5th (10)
  • Running defense — 15th (106.0 YPG)
  • Third down defense — 20th (40%)
  • Red zone defense — 11th (50%)
  • Time of possession — 31st (26:25)
  • Turnover margin — 10th (+1)

Texans:

  • Total offense — 8th (396.3 YPG)
  • Scoring offense — 23rd (19.7 PPG)
  • Passing offense — 13th (271.7 YPG)
  • Running offense — 8th (124.7 YPG)
  • Third down offense — 23rd (35%)
  • Red zone offense — 28th (36.4%)
  • Total defense — 17th (350.3 YPG)
  • Scoring defense — 17th (24.7 PPG)
  • Passing defense — 12th (238.3 YPG)
  • Sacks — 18th (7)
  • Running defense — 20th (112.0 YPG)
  • Third down defense — 17th (38%)
  • Red zone defense — 21st (70%)
  • Time of possession — 28th (27:39)
  • Turnover margin — 25th (-2)

NOTES AND QUOTES

  • The Colts will honor Jackson by wearing an “EJ” sticker on their helmets. Coaches will also being wearing a pin by the same design. The team will also show a video tribute of Jackson as well as present his family with a $25,000 donation to the Edwin Jackson 53 Foundation before the game.
  • On Monday, the Colts claimed cornerback Arthur Maulet off of waivers from the New Orleans Saints and released running back Christine Michael. They also signed free agent offensive tackle Rees Odhiambo and cornerback Lenzy Pipkins to the practice squad and released offensive tackle Will Holden and cornerback Tarvarus McFadden from the practice squad.
  • The Colts need one win to register 300 in the Indianapolis era. They would be just the 11th team to meet that mark since they moved to Indianapolis in 1984.
  • Luck needs to throw one touchdown on Sunday to tie Peyton Manning (27) for the second-most consecutive games with a touchdown pass in franchise history. His current streak of 26 is the longest active streak in the NFL and 15th-longest in NFL history. If Luck passes for at least 260 yards Sunday, he will reach 20,000 passing yards in his 74th game. Matthew Stafford (71), Dan Marino (74), Kurt Warner (76) and Manning (78) were the quickest in NFL history to reach 20,000 passing yards. Luck also needs one rushing touchdown to pass Bert Jones (14) for the second-most in franchise history among quarterbacks.
  • Hilton needs three receiving touchdowns to pass John Mackey (38) for the eighth-most in franchise history.
  • Kicker Adam Vinatieri needs one converted field goals to pass Morten Andersen (565) for the most in NFL history, three field goal attempts to pass Gary Anderson (672) for the second-most, one converted field goal from 50-plus yards to pass Andersen (40) for the sixth-most and one regular season game played to pass George Blanda for the fourth-most regular season games played in NFL history.
  • Colts head coach Frank Reich on how he amplifies the importance this week, being a divisional game: “The guys that have been around understand the importance. For the new guys, you just try to bring a little bit of context to how a division game counts and why it counts more than one game. Put up the standings in the division and show where we are in the division race right now. Show how important a win is in trying to establish our place in this division. For a long time, we’ve done very well in this division and that’s where we want to get back to.”
  • Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus on the importance on containing Watson’s escapability: “That’s the game, that’s the game. They got the two great wideouts and the quarterback that’s really good. Lamar (Miller) they got an excellent running back. So that’s the game, being able to do that, and that’s easier said than done. Like last week, he’s a heck of an athlete, strong in the pocket, able to extend plays, all those things you deal with with (Deshaun) Watson and (Carson) Wentz and Russell (Wilson) and all the guys that are out there that do that and that are so good at it. So it will be a challenge for our defense.”
  • Eberflus on if this defense is built to handle mobile quarterbacks: “I think you have to have a lot of different ways to do it – I really do. I know that’s a vague answer, but I really believe that. You got to have multiple ways of doing that. Again, it’s still going to be very challenging just because of the athlete and his arm strength and all the things that he brings to that offense.”
  • Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni on knowing where Watt is at all times: “Yeah, he can wreck a game and so can (Jadeveon) Clowney. They’ve got good players. They’ve got really good players. But yeah, that’s kind of where we start our week, of who are the guys that can hurt you? Who are the guys that can hurt you and just have a plan for them. But we also have confidence in our guys too. I think you’ve seen our guards play really well. Quenton Nelson, Matt Slauson and Ryan Kelly, our interior guys, have played really well. So, that gives us confidence that we can go out there and run our stuff. It’s going to be a battle. It’s always going to be tough no matter who you play. But man, they have played against some good ones, right? They’ve played against – the first week against Cincinnati, they played last week against (Fletcher) Cox and then J.J. Watt. So, there’s always going to be that guy on the other end. There’s always going to be that guy on the other end. This is the NFL so it’s always going to be a challenge, but I am really pleased with our guards and our centers for that challenge that they’ve come up with. But yeah, we will think about J.J. Watt quite a bit this week.”

NEXT WEEK

Colts:

  • New England Patriots (1-2) (away) (Thursday Night Football)

Texans:

  • Dallas Cowboys (1-2) (home) (Sunday Night Football)

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