INDIANAPOLIS – It's a different feel inside the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center this week.
The Colts (6-6) have returned to work during a shorter week of prep for the Houston Texans (6-6).
With three teams tied atop the division going into the final quarter of the season, the "Game Seven" description T.Y. Hilton is applying to Sunday's matchup holds true.
Here is the Wednesday notebook with a look at potentially several different defensive bodies working into the lineup/rotation this week:
- S-Clayton Geathers (neck): It's a week-to-week update for the team's starting safety, alongside Mike Adams. That timetable means it's unlikely the Colts will have the physical Geathers for a team in Houston that wants to run the football.
- OG-Denzelle Good (concussion): The team's starting right guard left Monday's game with a concussion and remains in the protocol.
- DT-Zach Kerr (concussion): The Colts had two players not feel well following Monday's game. Kerr was one of them. The reserve defensive lineman is in the concussion protocol.
- OLB-Curt Maggitt (concussion): Just like Kerr, Maggitt did not feel his best on Tuesday. So now the Colts have two of their front seven reserves in the concussion protocol.
- OLB-Robert Mathis (bicep): Chuck Pagano is listing Mathis at "day-to-day." Mathis updated his minor bicep tear on his Tuesday night radio show. Mathis expects to practice at some point this week.
- CB-Patrick Robinson (groin): Pagano says Robinson is getting better, after the team's starting cornerback missed all of last week.
Chuck Pagano on looking back at the first meeting with the Colts and Texans, 26-23 overtime loss:
"I remember us playing well and being up 23-9 with five minutes to go, three minutes to go.
"Then an artery opened up and blood started gushing and we didn't have gauze to stop the bleeding. That's momentum. We got a fire and we didn't do anything about it."
Bowen's Analysis: Chuck Pagano provided quite the visual for how things flipped rapidly when these teams met in Houston on Oct. 16. When the Colts look back on the first half of 2016, the losses to the Lions and Texans most frequently come up as ones that got away. Dwayne Allen said the difference in those two was the Detroit game was back and forth. The Houston loss was a dominant first three quarters for the Colts, before it all went for naught in the fourth. The latter one truly stings.
Pagano says the Colts are a better football team some two months later. Three straight victories with Andrew Luck under center would indicate just that. On Monday night, the Colts had a chance to put the Jets away early. They did just that in a convincing manner that we didn't see earlier this season.T.Y. Hilton on Sunday's game with the 6-6 Texans:
"It's Game Seven."
Bowen's Analysis: Leave it to the basketball fan in Hilton to describe what is at stake on Sunday. Hilton's teammates liked how Hilton labeled the importance of Colts/Texans in Week 14. By definition, it's not a must-win, but the playoff odds for the Colts will decrease substantially if they lose on Sunday.
The Texans come into this week having won eight straight divisional contests. They are looking for their first season sweep of the Colts in franchise history (Houston had lost 13 straight in Indy before winning there last December). On the other hand, Andrew Luck has won his last eight divisional home games, with just one home AFC South loss in his five-year career.
Dwayne Allen on the play of Andrew Luck as of late:
"He's definitely playing under control.
"He understands his game and our playmakers on offense. He's not forcing things."
Bowen's Analysis: The hardware came on Wednesday for Andrew Luck. His AFC Offensive Player of the Week honor came after a career-high passer rating that was nearly 100 points higher than his rating in last year's loss to the Jets.
Luck is efficient and the Colts and are finishing off drives with him at quarterback. That is a deadly weapon for this offense, which saw the line play arguably its best game of the season on Monday. The recent offensive output is the sort of unit we thought we would see in 2016. It's also getting the production Jim Irsay said was needed back in November for this team to find its way into the postseason.**
Here is Wednesday's injury report:
-DNP: S-Clayton Geathers (neck), OG-Denzelle Good (concussion), RB-Frank Gore (rest), DT-Zach Kerr (concussion), OLB-Robert Mathis (bicep), OLB-Curt Maggitt (concussion)
-LIMITED: QB-Andrew Luck (right shoulder), CB-Patrick Robinson (groin)*
On Wednesday, the Colts elevated inside linebacker Luke Rhodes to the 53-man roster from the practice squad and signed safety Stefan McClure to the practice squad.
Rhodes, 6-2, 242 pounds, had been on the Colts practice squad since signing with the team on Oct. 5. He was a 2016 undrafted free agent out of William & Mary and signed by the Buccaneers in May.