INDIANAPOLIS — This week, the Indianapolis Colts (1-2) partake in their first divisional matchup when they host the winless Houston Texans (0-3) at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Colts were unable to hold onto their brief lead against the Philadelphia Eagles last week, falling 20-16, so they will look to get back to their winning ways. However, this is all about this week's matchup.
Let's take a quick look about the Deshaun Watson-led Texans.
The Texans hosted their first home game of the season Sunday, losing to the New York Giants, 27-22. The loss was their third straight to begin the season — by an average margin of five points — and their ninth consecutive dating back to last November.
The Giants forged a 17-point lead with a minute remaining in the first half before Houston began chipping away, cutting the lead to five points by about halfway through the fourth quarter.
However, running back Lamar Miller would lose a fumble and Watson threw an interception — both in the second half. The turnovers, coupled with New York's final touchdown near the two-minute warning, set the game just out of reach.
The Texans got some solid performances from their studs as Watson threw for 385 yards and two touchdowns. His top targets, DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller, combined for 11 receptions for 187 yards and a touchdown.
On the defensive side of the ball, defensive end J.J. Watt had a vintage J.J. Watt day. He totaled eight tackles (five for loss), three sacks, five total quarterback hits and a forced fumble. Back and leg injuries robbed him of much of the last two seasons, so it was refreshing to see him return to his old ways. In total, the Texans sacked Giants quarterback Eli Manning four times.
The Giants obviously had a productive day in their win, with Manning throwing for 297 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers, and the duo of running back Saquon Barkley (82 rushing yards, touchdown; 35 receiving yards) and Odell Beckham Jr. (109 receiving yards) combining for 226 total yards and a touchdown.
On the Texans' injury front, wide receiver Bruce Ellington (hamstring) and offensive guard Senior Kelemete (knee) both left the game and did not return. Wide receivers Sammie Coates (hamstring) and Keke Coutee (hamstring) and cornerback Kayvon Webster (Achilles) did not play.
After getting off to an astronomical start to his rookie campaign, Watson unfortunately suffered a season-ending ACL injury before ever facing the Colts in 2017. Instead, the Colts faced Tom Savage and T.J. Yates in their two 2017 matchups, both Colts wins. This time, it's finally Watson.
The Colts' defense at home in front of an energized crowd should be a good matchup for the second-year star and his playmakers.
Pro Football Focus rates the Texans as the No. 29 offense in pass protection. The Colts, meanwhile, have the third-most sacks in the NFL with 10.
Two weapons who have given the Colts issues in the past are Miller and Hopkins. In the two Colts-Texans matchups in 2016, Miller totaled 49 touches for 300 yards and two touchdowns. Hopkins averages 5.3 catches for 72.0 yards in nine games against the Colts and is one of the league's premier players.
Watson has to be monitored throughout the play as well, as he's chipping in 40 yards per game on the ground in 2018.
The Texans also have quite a bit of talent defensively, with Watt leading a group that also features Jadeveon Clowney, Whitney Mercilus and Tyrann Mathieu.
Although both teams have players to make this a high-powered affair on offense, the defense has been just as apt this year. In fact, in their six matchups since 2015, the winner averages 22.2 points per game while the loser averages 16.2 — not what you would consider a "barn burner."
2018 KEY STATS
- Tied 3rd in fourth-down percentage (67%)
- 6th in pass plays of 20-plus yards (14)
- 6th in yards per carry (4.7)
- 22nd in penalties (24)
- 28th in red zone scoring in away games (33.3%)
- 5th in penalties (17)
- 27th in passing yards per attempt (8.5)
- 28th in fourth downs allowed (3-for-3, 100%)
- 31st in passer rating (119.9)
- 31st in carries against (30.7)