INDIANAPOLIS — Fresh off of their bye week, the Indianapolis Colts will prepare for their second division matchup of the season as they play host to the 2018 regular season AFC South champion Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium in Week 7.
These teams traded blows last season as the Texans got the best of the Colts last year in Indianapolis in Week 4, but then the Colts responded by beating the Texans twice in Houston — once in Week 14 and again in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs.
This has the makings of the rivalry that might just shape the AFC South Division for years to come. Let's take a look at the next chapter.
- Sunday, Oct. 20 at 1 p.m. ET
- Indianapolis; Lucas Oil Stadium
- TV: CBS
- 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
- Battle for First? — In this, the sixth game of the Colts' season and the seventh of the Texans', the division race should start to take shape. Without discounting the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars, the Colts and Texans could very well be battling for the top spot in the division standings in this matchup.
- Defend Your Home Turf — As previously mentioned, the Colts lost to the Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium last season. With the importance of gaining homefield advantage in the playoffs, the Colts will be looking to secure all eight home victories in 2019, this one coming with a little added motivation.
- Houston' Offensive Line Configuration — Houston has a new-look offensive line, but where everyone will line up is anyone's guess at this point with training camp still to be worked out. At tackle, Julie'n Davenport, Seantrel Henderson, Howard, Kalil and Scharping should be battling for the two tackle spots. Zach Fulton, Senio Kelemete, Martinas Rankin and Scharping appear to be the prime candidates at guard while Nick Martin should have center nailed down.
- Rookie Roles — By most accounts (and my own personal opinion), these two teams both had really nice drafts. For the Colts, we could see rookies Ben Banogu, Parris Campbell, Bobby Okereke and Rock Ya-Sin playing big roles by this point while the same could be said for Texans rookies Howard, Johnson Jr., Charles Omenihu, Scharping and Kahale Warring.
- Colts WR T.Y. Hilton vs. Texans CB Johnathan Joseph — These two go 'round and round all the time, most recently culminating with Hilton responding to some of Joseph's verbal pre-game barbs by showing up to NRG Stadium with a clown mask on and promptly torching him for 63 yards on the opening drive. The two also got very heated with each other in a game in 2017. Will we see any fireworks this year?
- Colts OTs Anthony Castonzo/Braden Smith vs. Texans EDs J.J. Watt/Jadeveon Clowney — This has turned out to be a fun pair of matchups to watch as well since Smith took over as the Colts' right tackle. While Watt has had his wins, Smith has had his fair share as well. Clowney and Watt are one of the most destructive pair of defenders in the league, but Castonzo and Smith have proven capable of battling them.
- Colts CB Pierre Desir vs. Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins — Many people consider Hopkins to be one of the top, if not the top, receiver in the game, but Desir has shown up to answer the call against him. In the three meetings last year when Desir was matched up with Hopkins, he has held him to six receptions (11 targets) for 99 yards, intercepting one pass attempt and breaking up two others. Seventy-three of those yards were achieved just in the first game.
- Favorite: Colts (-4.0)
- Over/Under: N/A
- 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)