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2018 Colts Season Preview: Colts/Texans, Week 14

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INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans have their second matchup of the 2018 season in Week 14.

With 10 weeks in between their games, plenty is likely to have developed. Let’s take a look at these two AFC South division champ hopefuls.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

  • Sunday, Dec. 9, at 1 p.m. ET
  • Houston (NRG Stadium)
  • TV — CBS

ALL-TIME SERIES

  • Colts lead, 25-7. Have won the last two, including eight of the last 11 dating back to 2012.
  • Last game — Week 17 of 2017. Colts won, 22-13. At this point, the two teams will have also played in Week 4.

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

KEY NEW FACES

Colts:

  • OG Quenton Nelson
  • TE Eric Ebron
  • WR Ryan Grant
  • RB Nyheim Hines
  • DT/DE Denico Autry

Texans:

  • WR Keke Coutee
  • OG Zach Fulton
  • OL Martinas Rankin
  • S Tyrann Mathieu
  • CB Aaron Colvin

OTHER SIGNIFICANT CHANGES

Colts:

  • The Colts got an almost entirely new coaching staff this offseason, and general manager Chris Ballard went into his second offseason of flipping the roster.
  • With the coaching change came a switch to a 4-3, Tampa-2 style defense from the hybrid 3-4 defense.
  • From 2017 to 2018, there could be as many as a dozen or more new starters.
  • One of those new starters will be at running back. Frank Gore is now on the Miami Dolphins, so a new face will be stepping into the starting tailback spot.

Texans:

  • Now without tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz, it’s up to Stephen Anderson, Jordan Akins, MyCole Pruitt and Jordan Thomas to man the position.
  • The offensive line will likely undergo some shuffling. They have some youth in Julie’n Davenport, Nick Martin and Martinas Rankin, and they’ve recently acquired Zach Fulton, Senior Kelemete and Seantrel Henderson.
  • Houston’s secondary will look a little different this time around. They acquired safeties Tyrann Mathieu and Justin Reid as well as nickel Aaron Colvin this offseason. On a somber note, starting safety Andre Hal is currently battling Hodgkin lymphoma.

EARLY STORYLINES

  • AFC South Race — Including this game, there is only four games left in the regular season at this point. With Andrew Luck and Deshaun Watson leading their respective teams, will both QBs have led their teams to playoff contention?
  • Health Of Both Teams — Both teams have been snake-bitten in recent years when it comes to injuries, and not just to role players. Are each team’s most critical players still available, or are they hamstrung? (Pun intended, thank you.)
  • Texans’ Lead Tight End? — For most of their history, the Texans have not had a standout tight end. Fiedorowicz was on his way until he was forced to retire this offseason due to concussions. This is now Anderson’s time to shine, but may rookies Akins or Thomas be encroaching on the TE1 spot at this point of the season?
  • Youth Aging Well On The Offensive Lines? — Both teams have been forced to invest heavily on the offensive line in the last couple of offseasons. Are the young players gelling with the veterans and playing to their potential like the teams hoped?
  • T.Y.’s Annual Houston Fireworks Show? — You can almost guarantee a big performance from Hilton when playing the Texans, especially in Houston. In six career games in NRG Stadium, Hilton averages 5.3 receptions for 122.3 yards and 1.2 touchdowns. That includes last year’s 175-yard game, a 223-yard game in 2014 and two multi-touchdown games.

INTRIGUING MATCHUPS

  • Colts Offensive Line vs. Texans Front Seven — Houston has a fierce front seven featuring J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, Whitney Mercilus and Bernardrick McKinney. The Colts added offensive linemen Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith through the draft and Matt Slauson and Austin Howard in free agency. The Colts already had some standout veterans in Anthony Castonzo and Ryan Kelly. Will the newcomers be able to help them fend off the Texans’ front seven?
  • Colts Front Seven vs. Texans Offensive Line — Like the Colts, Houston’s offensive line is a work in progress and will be facing a new-look Colts front seven. On paper, the Colts have a relatively deep outside pass rush with Jabaal Sheard, Tarell Basham, John Simon, Kemoko Turay and Chris McCain.
  • Colts CB Quincy Wilson and S Malik Hooker vs. Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller — While throwing to receivers Hopkins and Fuller last year, Watson was deadly. Will Colts second-year defensive backs Wilson and Hooker be able to help contain the Texans duo down the field?

RETURNING LEADERS

Colts:

  • Passing — QB Jacoby Brissett (3,098 yards)
  • Rushing — RB Marlon Mack (358 yards)
  • Receiving — WR T.Y. Hilton (966 yards)
  • Touchdowns — QB Jacoby Brissett, WR T.Y. Hilton, TE Jack Doyle (4)
  • Tackles — LB Antonio Morrison (108 total)
  • Sacks — DE Jabaal Sheard (5.5)
  • Interceptions — S Malik Hooker (3)

Texans:

  • Passing — QB Deshaun Watson (1,699 yards)
  • Rushing — RB Lamar Miller (888 yards)
  • Receiving — WR DeAndre Hopkins (1,378 yards)
  • Touchdowns — WR DeAndre Hopkins (13)
  • Tackles — ILB Benardrick McKinney (95)
  • Sacks — DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney (9.5)
  • Interceptions — S Andre Hal (3)

COMPARING 2017 STATS

Colts:

  • Total offense — 31st (284.8 YPG)
  • Scoring offense — 30th (16.4 PPG)
  • Passing offense — 30th (180.8 YPG)
  • Running offense — 22nd (103.8 YPG)
  • Total defense — 30th (367.1 YPG)
  • Scoring defense — 30th (25.2 PPG)
  • Passing defense — 28th (246.6 YPG)
  • Sacks — 31st (25)
  • Running defense — 26th (120.4 YPG)
  • Time of possession — 22nd (29:41)
  • Turnover margin — 13th (+5)

Texans:

  • Total offense — 20th (320.0 YPG)
  • Scoring offense — 17th (21.2 PPG)
  • Passing offense — 21st (204.9 YPG)
  • Running offense — 14th (115.1 YPG)
  • Total defense — 20th (346.6 YPG)
  • Scoring defense — 32nd (27.2 PPG)
  • Passing defense — 24th (237.4 YPG)
  • Sacks — 23rd (32)
  • Running defense — 13th (109.2 YPG)
  • Time of possession — 15th (30:07)
  • Turnover margin — 28th (-12)

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