2019 Colts Preview: Colts/Texans, Week 7

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INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts (3-2) on Sunday play host to the Houston Texans (4-2) in one of the more meaningful matchups of the Week 7 NFL calendar.

With both teams battling for the top spot in the AFC South Division, as well as positioning for placement in the AFC playoff race, there is a lot on the line already in this Week 7 showdown in Lucas Oil Stadium. Even though the Colts have won four out of the last five games against the Texans, can they exact a little revenge for Houston's overtime victory in their house last season?

Here's everything you need to know about this week's matchup.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

  • Sunday, Oct. 20, at 1 p.m. ET
  • Indianapolis; Lucas Oil Stadium
  • TV: CBS — Greg Gumbel (play-by-play), Trent Green (color) and Melanie Collins (sideline)
  • Watch the Colts on Yahoo Sports or the Colts app, free on your phone or tablet. Geographic and device restrictions apply. Local & primetime games only. Data charges may apply._ Click here for more ways to watch.
  • To find out what games will be on in your area, check here
  • Radio: WFNI “1070 The Fan” and WLHK “HANK FM” — Matt Taylor (play-by-play), Jim Sorgi (color) and Larra Overton (sideline) | ESPN Radio — Adam Amin (play-by-play), Jack Del Rio (color) and Ben Hartsock (sideline)

ALL-TIME SERIES

  • 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.

COACHING STAFF

Colts:

  • HC Frank Reich
  • OC Nick Sirianni
  • DC Matt Eberflus
  • STC Bubba Ventrone

Texans:

  • HC Bill O'Brien
  • OC Tim Kelly
  • DC Romeo Crennel
  • STC Brad Seely

LAST WEEK

Colts:

  • BYE; Week 5 — Won @ Kansas City Chiefs (5-2), 19-13

Texans:

  • Won @ Kansas City Chiefs (5-2), 31-24

INJURY UPDATE

Colts:

  • OUT — WR Parris Campbell (abdominal), DL Tyquan Lewis (ankle), CB Kenny Moore II (knee)
  • DOUBTFUL — S Malik Hooker (knee)
  • QUESTIONABLE — CB Pierre Desir (hamstring), DE Justin Houston (calf), G Quenton Nelson (hip)

Texans:

  • OUT — OL Tytus Howard (knee), OL Greg Mancz (concussion)
  • DOUBTFUL — N/A
  • QUESTIONABLE — S Tashaun Gipson Sr. (hip/wrist), CB Johnathan Joseph (hamstring), CB Bradley Roby (hamstring)

EARLY STORYLINES/THINGS TO WATCH

  • Darius Leonard's Return — Colts linebacker Darius Leonard no longer carries an injury designation as he sat out the last three games with a concussion. The Colts' leader on defense now returns for a contest in which he is very much needed, as he has quite a bit of experience against Houston's electric quarterback, Deshaun Watson. Colts head coach Frank Reich commented this week on the impact of Leonard's return: “I mean, well, especially a game like this – this team is so talented on offense, right? This team has some really talented players on offense. They are smart players. You can tell that they have smart football players and physically talented players. So we need to have as many of those guys as well. Darius is one of those guys that can – when Deshaun Watson gets in the open field, Darius can make it interesting and not many guys can. So you need guys like Darius that can make it interesting.”
  • "Run The Damn Ball" — The Colts are 10-2 since 2018 (including playoffs) in games in which they run for at least 100 yards. Their offensive front with running back Marlon Mack running behind it has become one of the NFL's dominant units, and that includes the last time they played the Texans. In the Wild Card round of the AFC playoffs last season, the Colts went into Houston and put 200 rushing yards on them, which was the most rushing yards the Texans allowed all season. Mack was also the first player to run for 100 yards on them. It's pretty simple this week: break the Texans' defense down again like you did in January and you likely come out with a victory.
  • Keep Deshaun Watson Uncomfortable — Houston has a new-look offensive line, but it's had little consistency in its lineup due to injuries. That continues as starting right tackle Tytus Howard and backup interior lineman Greg Mancz are both out this week with injuries. Watson was sacked 18 times in Houston's first four games, but they've kept him clean two games in a row now. The Colts sacked him 15 times in three matchups last year, winning two of the three, while the third was an overtime loss. They know they have to keep pressuring him if they are to come out on top. With Colts defensive end Kemoko Turay landing on season-ending Injured Reserve this week with a broken ankle, the Colts will be looking at guys like rookie Ben Banogu and Al-Quadin Muhammad to fill the void left by Turay's absence.
  • Win The Money Downs — The Colts and Texans have a couple of statistical advantages against each other when it comes to some crucial moments of the game. The Colts' offense ranks eighth on third downs and is tied for first on fourth downs while Houston's defense ranks tied for 26th on third downs and 31st on fourth downs. On the flip side, Houston's offense is first in the red zone while the Colts' defense is 30th. With Leonard back in the fold, will the Colts hold up better in the red zone, defensively?
  • Defend Your Home Turf — As previously mentioned, the Colts lost in overtime to the Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium last season. With the importance of gaining home-field advantage in the playoffs, the Colts will be looking to secure as many home victories as possible in 2019, this one coming with a little added motivation.
  • Battle For First — In this, the sixth game of the Colts' season and the seventh of the Texans', the division race is taking shape. The Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans are both 2-4 and struggling to get back on the right track while the Colts and Texans have plenty to be happy with. With the second half of the season rapidly approaching, each game counts, this one holding a little more weight than many of the others. Reich commented this week on how he addresses the impact of division games with his team: “Yeah, we do. I mean we are like every other team. We make an emphasis of division games. I mean there is only so much you can say. I think players are smart, they get it. They know that these games are weighted a little bit heavier. So we certainly did bring that to their attention.”
  • Jacoby Brissett: MVP Candidate? — This is about the time of the season that the NFL MVP discussion starts to gain steam, and to this point Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett has been discussed as a deep dark horse candidate. If the Colts pull out this victory with Brissett keeping up his solid play then he could become more than a side note moving forward. Brissett and the Colts handed reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs their first loss of the season two weeks ago, plus a victory over a popular MVP candidate in Watson on Sunday would put the Colts atop their division and inside the top four teams in the AFC. So, why not? Mahomes suffered a knee injury Thursday night that is expected to keep him out for some time, so there is extra room for Brissett to move up in the discussion.

INTRIGUING MATCHUPS

  • 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 pregame barbs by showing up to NRG Stadium before the Wild Card matchup with a clown mask on, and promptly torching Joseph 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/Whitney Mercilus — 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. Mercilus and Watt are one of the most destructive pairs of defenders in the league, but Castonzo and Smith have proven capable of battling them in the past.
  • Colts CBs vs. Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins — We can't really designate this another Pierre Desir vs. DeAndre Hopkins matchup due to Desir's injury status, so we'll see if guys like Quincy Wilson and rookie Rock Ya-Sin can step up to the challenge for the Colts. It would, however, be beneficial for Desir to be active for the Colts with his past successes against 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; 73 of those yards were achieved just in the first game.

REFEREE ASSIGNMENT

BETTING LINE

REGULAR SEASON LEADERS

Colts:

  • Passing — QB Jacoby Brissett (1,062 yards)
  • Rushing — RB Marlon MAck (470 yards)
  • Receiving — WR T.Y. Hilton (232 yards)
  • Touchdowns — WR T.Y. Hilton (4)
  • Tackles — LB Anthony Walker (36)
  • Sacks — DL Denico Autry (2.5)
  • Interceptions — S Clayton Geathers, S Malik Hooker (1)

Texans:

  • Passing — QB Deshaun Watson (1,644 yards)
  • Rushing — RB Carlos Hyde (426 yards)
  • Receiving — WR Will Fuller V (444 yards)
  • Touchdowns — QB Deshaun Watson (5)
  • Tackles — LB Zach Cunningham (46)
  • Sacks — ED Whitney Mercilus (5.0)
  • Interceptions — S Tashaun Gipson (2)

COMPARING 2019 STATS

Colts:

  • Total offense — 23rd (344.0 YPG)
  • Scoring — 15th (22.6 PPG)
  • Passing offense — 27th (202.0 YPG)
  • Sacks allowed — Tied-2nd (6)
  • Running offense — 4th (142.0 YPG)
  • Third down offense — 8th (46%)
  • Red zone offense — 15th (57.9%)
  • Total defense — 16th (355.2 YPG)
  • Scoring defense — 17th (23.0 PPG)
  • Passing defense — 18th (242.0 YPG)
  • Sacks — Tied-19th (13)
  • Running defense — 19th (113.2 YPG)
  • Third down defense — Tied-26th (46%)
  • Red zone defense — 30th (66.7%)
  • Time of possession — 8th (31:48)
  • Turnover differential — 16th (0)

Texans:

  • Total offense — 6th (396.8 YPG)
  • Scoring — 8th (27.0 PPG)
  • Passing offense — 10th (257.0 YPG)
  • Sacks allowed — 25th (18)
  • Running offense — 5th (139.8 YPG)
  • Third down offense — 1st (51%)
  • Red zone offense — 1st (71.4%)
  • Total defense — 18th (356.0 YPG)
  • Scoring defense — 16th (22.3 PPG)
  • Passing defense — 24th (268.0 YPG)
  • Sacks — Tied-13th (16)
  • Running defense — 8th (88.0 YPG)
  • Third down defense — Tied-26th (46%)
  • Red zone defense — 23rd (61.1%)
  • Time of possession — 11th (31:21)
  • Turnover differential — 15th (+1)

NOTES AND QUOTES

  • Mack needs one 100-yard rushing game to tie Alan Ameche (seven) for the sixth-most such games in Colts franchise history.
  • Colts running back Nyheim Hines needs one reception to pass Joseph Addai (81) for the third-most receptions by a Colts running back in their first two seasons in the NFL.
  • Hilton needs two touchdowns to pass Dallas Clark (46) for the 11th-most total touchdowns in franchise history, and would also tie Clark for the sixth-most receiving touchdowns in franchise history. Also, with one game with 10-plus receptions, Hilton will pass Don McCauley, Lydell Mitchell, Joe Washington, Anthony Johnson and Clark, all with three, for the third-most such games in franchise history.
  • Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri needs one game played to pass Eugene Daniel (198) for the fourth-most games played in franchise history.
  • Reich on what he'll take away from the Colts' two wins against the Texans in 2018: “It matters a little bit. We factor all of it in. We’re always progressing and moving on and feel like we’re getting better. Really our DNA, it starts with who we want to be. On offense, it starts up front running the football. On defense, the same thing, stopping the run. Those are areas of emphasis, they’ll always be areas of emphasis. In our games against Houston last year, I think those were big, big stats.”
  • Texans head coach Bill O'Brien on the difference between the Colts' offense last year with Andrew Luck at quarterback versus it with Brissett this year: “I think that they are a game-plan offense. So I think when you look from week-to-week, if they feel like they can run the ball, they are going to try to run the ball. I think they try to stay balanced from what I’ve seen on tape. I think they do a great job. I mean they are a very well-coached team. They don’t make a lot of mistakes. They are a very physical team. They do a good job both in the run and the pass. I think Jacoby does a great job of getting them into the right play and he’s a very, very good quarterback.”
  • The Colts made the following roster moves this week: Signed free agent defensive tackle Carl Davis and placed defensive end Kemoko Turay on the Injured Reserve list.

NEXT WEEK

Colts:

  • Denver Broncos (home)

Texans:

  • Oakland Raiders (home)

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