INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts travel south to take on the Houston Texans for the second time in the regular season in Week 12, and this time it's in the bright lights of Thursday Night Football.
The two teams tangled three times last season, including the Wild Card Round of the playoffs, with the Colts winning two of the three games. However, the Texans won the regular season AFC Division title in 2018 although the Colts came out on top in the win-loss column.
Looking ahead to this matchup, a game at this stage of the season could be a big deciding factor in the 2019 AFC South race.
- Thursday, Nov. 21 at 8:20 p.m. ET
- Houston; NRG Stadium
- TV: FOX/NFL Network (Thursday Night Football)
- Colts lead, 26-8 (1-0 in the playoffs), and have won four of the last five games dating back to 2017.
- Last game — Wild Card Round of 2018-19 NFL Playoffs. Colts won, 21-7.
- HC Frank Reich
- OC Nick Sirianni
- DC Matt Eberflus
- STC Bubba Ventrone
- HC Bill O'Brien
- OC Tim Kelly
- DC Romeo Crennel
- STC Brad Seely
KEY NEW FACES
- DE/LB Ben Banogu
- WR Parris Campbell
- WR Devin Funchess
- DE Justin Houston
- CB Rock Ya-Sin
- S Jahleel Addae/Tashaun Gipson
- OL Tytus Howard/Matt Kalil/Max Scharping
- CB Lonnie Johnson Jr./Bradley Roby
- DL Charles Omenihu
- TE Kahale Warring
OTHER SIGNIFICANT CHANGES
- Overall, this was a pretty quiet offseason for the Colts for a change. It was about building onto and shaping the current roster rather than shaking things up or making sweeping changes. Former starting receivers Ryan Grant and Dontrelle Inman both departed in free agency, and veterans Mike Mitchell and Al Woods also were not re-signed by the team. Offensive lineman Matt Slauson retired following a 10-year career.
- The Texans very much needed to address their offensive line after Deshaun Watson was the league's most-sacked quarterback in 2018. They did so by adding experienced left tackle Matt Kalil in free agency along with rookie draft picks Tytus Howard and Max Scharping.
- They also addressed their secondary by adding Tashaun Gipson and Jahleel Addae to replace Tyrann Mathieu, who they lost in free agency, and Andre Hal, who retired following the season. At corner, Bradley Roby and Lonnie Johnson Jr. will be a couple of welcomed additions with Johnathan Joseph reaching the twilight of his career and Kareem Jackson leaving in free agency.
- The Texans will benefit by having a healthy pair of Will Fuller and Keke Coutee at receiver to complement DeAndre Hopkins. Fuller had a torn ACL that ended his 2019 season, and Coutee battled hamstring issues throughout the season.
EARLY STORYLINES/THINGS TO WATCH
- AFC South Standings — With six games remaining in the regular season, the AFC South race should really be taking shape. While all four teams in the division could make a case for the crown, the Colts and Texans are the popular favorites. After playing first in Week 7, the two teams will square off again in Week 12. Both game carry huge weight, but this one especially.
- Colts' Success In Houston — The two games the Colts won against the Texans last year both came in Houston. The Colts have been comfortable at NRG Stadium for quite some time, winning six of the last seven games in Houston, so this isn't as much of a disadvantage for the Colts as a typical road game would be.
- TYH Stadium? — At this point, the name for NRG Stadium could be changed to TYH Stadium because Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton is flat-out dominant within its confines. In eight career games in Houston (a half-season) he has 46 receptions for 1,018 yards (22.1 avg) and seven touchdowns. That comes out to an average of 5.8 receptions for 127.3 yards and 0.9 touchdowns per game.
- Colts' Pass Rush — In three games last year, the Colts brutalized Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, sacking him 15 times and hitting him 27 times. The Texans brought in a few new faces on the line, hopefully (for them) leading to a more cohesive, effective unit. On the flip side, the Colts brought in All-Pro defensive end Justin Houston and rookie Ben Banogu, and should have further development from guys like Kemoko Turay, Tyquan Lewis and Al-Quadin Muhammad. Will they still be able to ratchet up the pressure?
- Colts LB Darius Leonard/S Malik Hooker vs. Texans' TEs — By now, the Texans' talented, young tight end trio of Jordan Akins, Jordan Thomas and Kahale Warring should be developing nicely. They are a fast, athletic group that can make plays after the catch and stretch the field. For the Colts, Leonard and Hooker will be two of the biggest pieces against defending Houston's tight ends. Last year, Houston's Akins, Thomas and Ryan Griffin combined for 17 receptions for 201 yards in the three games and had several key catches.
*In the Week 7 preview, we also highlighted the matchups between Hilton against Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph, Colts offensive tackles Anthony Castonzo and Braden Smith against Texans pass rushers J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney, and Colts cornerback Pierre Desir against Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
- Favorite: Texans (-2.0)
- Over/Under: 47.5
- Passing — QB Andrew Luck (4,593 yards)
- Rushing — RB Marlon Mack (908 yards)
- Receiving — WR T.Y. Hilton (1,270 yards)
- Touchdowns — TE Eric Ebron (14)
- Tackles — LB Darius Leonard (163)
- Sacks — DL Denico Autry (9.0)
- Interceptions — CB Kenny Moore II (3)
- Passing — QB Deshaun Watson (4,165 yards)
- Rushing — RB Lamar Miller (973 yards)
- Receiving — WR DeAndre Hopkins (1,572 yards)
- Touchdowns — WR DeAndre Hopkins (11)
- Tackles — LB Zach Cunningham (107)
- Sacks — DL J.J. Watt (16.0)
- Interceptions — S Justin Reid (3)
COMPARING 2018 STATS
- Total offense — 7th (386.2 YPG)
- Scoring offense — 5th (27.1 PPG)
- Passing offense — 6th (278.8 YPG)
- Sacks allowed — 1st (18)
- Running offense — 20th (107.4 YPG)
- Third down offense — 1st (48.6%)
- Red zone offense — 5th (67.1%)
- Total defense — 11th (339.4 YPG)
- Scoring defense — 10th (21.5 PPG)
- Passing defense — 16th (237.8 YPG)
- Sacks — Tied-19th (38)
- Running defense — 8th (101.6 YPG)
- Third down defense — 23rd (41%)
- Red zone defense — 11th (55.1%)
- Time of possession — 18th (30:05)
- Turnover differential — Tied-13th (2)
- Total offense — 15th (362.6 YPG)
- Scoring offense — 11th (25.1 PPG)
- Passing offense — 17th (236.3 YPG)
- Sacks allowed — 32nd (62)
- Running offense — 8th (126.3 YPG)
- Third down offense — 20th (37%)
- Red zone offense — 29th (50%)
- Total defense — 12th (343.1 YPG)
- Scoring defense — 4th (19.8 PPG)
- Passing defense — 28th (260.4 YPG)
- Sacks — Tied-11th (43)
- Running defense — 3rd (82.7 YPG)
- Third down defense — 20th (40%)
- Red zone defense — 31st (71.1%)
- Time of possession — 11th (30:46)
- Turnover differential — 2nd (+13)