INDIANAPOLIS — This Thursday night in front of a national television audience, it's the Indianapolis Colts (6-4) and Houston Texans (6-4) for the outright AFC South Division lead down at NRG Stadium.
These two teams have been battling back and forth for the division all season and are going into their second and final matchup of the regular season after the Colts defeated the Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium back in Week 7. This contest should come with a little added attitude for the home team since the Colts have won the last three matchups between the two sides, and the Texans are coming off of a lopsided loss last week to the Baltimore Ravens.
"We don't like them, and they don't like us," Colts running back Nyheim Hines told reporters about this rivalry last week. Let's analyze this matchup.
- Thursday, Nov. 21, at 8:20 p.m. ET
- Houston; NRG Stadium
- TV: FOX/NFL Network (Thursday Night Football) — Joe Buck (play-by-play), Troy Aikman (color), Erin Andrews and Kristina Pink (sideline) | Amazon Prime Video — Hannah Storm (play-by-play) and Andrea Kremer (color)/Derek Rae (play-by-play) and Tommy Smyth (color) (British English)
- 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) | Westwood One — Tom MCCarthy (play-by-play) and Tony Boselli (color)
- Colts lead, 27-8 (1-0 in the playoffs), and have won five of the last six games dating back to 2017.
- Last game — Week 7 of 2019. Colts won, 30-23.
- 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
- Won vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-6), 33-13
- Lost @ Baltimore Ravens (8-2), 41-7
- OUT — WR Parris Campbell (hand), RB Marlon Mack (hand), CB Shakial Taylor (ankle), S Khari Willis (concussion)
- DOUBTFUL — N/A
- QUESTIONABLE — TE Mo Alie-Cox (thumb), TE Eric Ebron (ankle), WR T.Y. Hilton (calf), CB Rock Ya-Sin (ankle)
- OUT — S Mike Adams (concussion), CB Lonnie Johnson Jr. (ankle), S Justin Reid (concussion/shoulder)
- DOUBTFUL — N/A
- QUESTIONABLE — WR Will Fuller V (hamstring), S Tashaun Gipson Sr. (back), CB Bradley Roby (hamstring)
STORYLINES/THINGS TO WATCH
- Colts' Success In Houston — The two games the Colts won against the Texans in 2018 both came in Houston, including one in the playoffs. 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. It's fitting that Hilton could be making his return from injury in this matchup after missing the last three games.
- Colts' Pass Rush — In four games since last year, the Colts have brutalized Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, sacking him 18 times and hitting him 33 times. The Colts have 16 sacks in their last six games, led by defensive end Justin Houston's six-game sack streak. He has seven sacks during that span, and eight on the season.
- Next Man Up — Thursday games are never a good reflection of your team's actual health, so naturally there are key players out for both teams this week. With Parris Campbell, Marlon Mack, Shakial Taylor and Khari Willis all out for the Colts as well as four others questionable, they'll need guys like Jordan Wilkins, Jonathan Williams, Rolan Milligan and perhaps Quincy Wilson to step up to the challenge and take on an increased role.
- AFC South Standings — With six games remaining in the regular season, the AFC South race has taken shape. The Colts and Texans have been trading shots all season to put themselves in position for the division crown, but this is their final opportunity to make their case, face-to-face, in the regular season. When the Colts won in Week 7, it gave them the lead in the division before relinquishing the lead shortly thereafter back to Houston. The Colts finally regained it last Sunday when they defeated the Jaguars and the Texans lost to the Ravens. This game carries a ton of weight in the final division standings, but it may also determine playoff seeding, a potential first-round bye and how many games the teams may host in the postseason.
- Colts OT Anthony Castonzo vs. Texans ED Whitney Mercilus — It's not a common sight for the Colts to oppose a Texans team without pass rushers Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt. With Clowney now out in Seattle with the Seahawks and Watt out for the year with a pectoral injury, it's Mercilus and Brennan Scarlett bringing the pass rush for Houston. Mercilus has been one of the NFL's most well-rounded edge defenders during his career, and Scarlett got the Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett for a sack back in Week 7.
- Colts DE Justin Houston vs. Texans OT Laremy Tunsil — As mentioned, Houston has been on a tear lately, but Tunsil is one of the league's best, young tackles. Can the Texans' blindside protector end Houston's sack streak?
- Colts CB Pierre Desir vs. Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins — This is an outstanding time for Desir to make his return from a hamstring injury that kept him out for four games. He has had success in the past against Hopkins, blanketing him especially in the second half of last season. Desir's size and physicality are a good matchup against arguably the league's best receiver.
- (Retractable roof stadium) Cloudy, 15-percent chance of precipitation, temperature in the low-70s°F, wind from the SSE at 10 mph.
- Head referee: Ron Torbert (10 years). Click here to see all referee assignments for Week 12.
- Favorite: Texans (-3.5)
- Over/Under: 45.5
REGULAR SEASON LEADERS
- Passing — QB Jacoby Brissett (1,797 yards)
- Rushing — RB Marlon Mack (862 yards)
- Receiving — WR Zach Pascal (364 yards)
- Touchdowns — WR T.Y. Hilton (5)
- Tackles — LB Darius Leonard (65)
- Sacks — DE Justin Houston (8.0)
- Interceptions — LB Darius Leonard (2)
- Passing — QB Deshaun Watson (2,601 yards)
- Rushing — RB Carlos Hyde (769 yards)
- Receiving — WR DeAndre Hopkins (745 yards)
- Touchdowns — TE Darren Fells (6)
- Tackles — LB Zach Cunningham (79)
- Sacks — ED Whitney Mercilus (5.0)
- Interceptions — S Tashaun Gipson Sr. (2)
COMPARING 2019 STATS
- Total offense — 21st (343.8 YPG)
- Scoring — 16th (22.7 PPG)
- Passing offense — 14th (239.5 YPG)
- Sacks allowed — Tied-9th (20)
- Running offense — 4th (141.1 YPG)
- Third down offense — 12th (43%)
- Red zone offense — 8th (63.2%)
- Total defense — 11th (325.6 YPG)
- Scoring defense — 15th (20.6 PPG)
- Passing defense — 11th (228.8 YPG)
- Sacks — Tied-15th (25)
- Running defense — 9th (96.8 YPG)
- Third down defense — 18th (39%)
- Red zone defense — 10th (51.7%)
- Time of possession — 7th (31:24)
- Turnover differential — 24th (-3)
- Total offense — 7th (380.2 YPG)
- Scoring — 10th (24.5 PPG)
- Passing offense — 28th (202.7 YPG)
- Sacks allowed — Tied-22nd (32)
- Running offense — 5th (140.7 YPG)
- Third down offense — 7th (45%)
- Red zone offense — 6th (65.7%)
- Total defense — 25th (374.4 YPG)
- Scoring defense — 19th (23.2 PPG)
- Passing defense — 29th (272.4 YPG)
- Sacks — Tied-26th (22)
- Running defense — 13th (102.0 YPG)
- Third down defense — 28th (46%)
- Red zone defense — 30th (65.5%)
- Time of possession — 11th (30:44)
- Turnover differential — 14th (+1)
NOTES AND QUOTES
- Hilton needs one touchdown to pass Dallas Clark (46) for the 11th-most total touchdowns in Colts franchise history, and one receiving touchdown to tie Clark (46) for the sixth-most receiving touchdowns in franchise history. Hilton also needs one game with 10-plus receptions to pass Don McCauley, Lydell Mitchell, Joe Washington, Anthony Johnson and Clark, all with three, for the third-most games with 10-plus receptions in franchise history.
- Doyle needs one receiving touchdown to pass Coby Fleener (17) and tie Ken Dilger (18) for the sixth-most receiving touchdowns by a tight end in Colts franchise history.
- Ebron needs one receiving touchdown to tie Doyle and Fleener (17) for the seventh-most receiving touchdowns by a tight end in franchise history.
- Colts head coach Frank Reich on how the Colts' running game will be divvied up with Mack out: "Yeah, that is more than likely how it will play out. Jonathan and Jordan will kind of split that role. But we love Nyheim running the ball as well. You guys have seen, we are not afraid to leave him in there on first and second down. There are times that we do that and there are certain runs we want him in there on. So that is kind of a week-to-week play-by-play situation. We will miss Marlon obviously. He is having a great year, but I feel very confident in all three of those guys."
- Reich on the development of Colts rookie cornerback Marvell Tell III: "Yeah, he just looks more and more comfortable. I want to say more confident, but I think he has always been pretty confident. You can see he has a natural skillset for the position. I really saw that as a former quarterback and now as an offensive coach and watching corners all the time from a competitive standpoint. I saw lots of things early on with Marvell that I would say to Chris (Ballard), 'This guy is going to be good. This guy is going to be a good corner.' You could see it on one-on-ones. You could see it in some natural body movements. You could feel that he has the swagger that if he gets beat, it doesn't phase him. Then he has length, he has length that can be a big advantage as a corner."
- Colts linebacker Anthony Walker on facing Watson: "You have to be smart, you have to be disciplined and that's pretty much it. You have to be very, very disciplined in the way you rush him. Again, I know everybody wants to get to the quarterback and everybody wants to be the guy, but again at this point it's about all 11 guys working to get the one play that we need. That's getting the sack, the third-down stop or the fourth-down stop. We have to keep him in the pocket, don't give him the B-gap escape lane to step up and throw the ball or step up and run. It's going to come down to that and the DBs and the linebackers covering in the back end. He's going to make some plays, we know that. You can't say he's not going to get out the pocket. So when he does we have to make sure we're connected to the receivers and the running backs – just have to do a good job, all 11 guys."
- Texans head coach Bill O'Brien on how the Colts have responded with their change of quarterback since the beginning of the season: "From top to bottom they have great people in that organization. Frank Reich and Chris Ballard (are) really good football guys. They know what type of team they want. They've done a good job of putting together a really good team with a very, very good offensive line, a really good defense, a disciplined defense, a team that can run the ball and a team that plays really solidly and disciplined on special teams. They're a team. So when one guy retires, the team is bigger than one guy. They're a team – that's the way they play and that's the way they coach. We have a lot of respect for them."
- O'Brien on Justin Houston: "We've gone against him in Kansas City and now in Indianapolis. He's a tough guy to go against. It's very difficult to block him one-on-one. He's very strong, he's very explosive and (he's) got good instincts. So he's a guy you have to understand, 'Hey where is this guy on every single play?' And make sure you're ready for what he's doing – basically his technique, but also how they're using him in the defense. He's a very difficult guy to get ready for."
- This week, the Colts made the following roster moves: X
CATCH BEFORE THE GAME
- Colts' Injuries Mounting With Short Week, Division Lead On Line
- Colts Release Week 12 Unofficial Depth Chart For Texans Matchup
- Marlon Mack, Khari Willis Will Not Play Thursday Against Texans
- Colts Daily Notebook: Pierre Desir, Parris Campbell Return To Practice
- Colts Quick Scouting Report: Week 12 Vs. Houston Texans
- Colts Daily Notebook: T.Y. Hilton, Pierre Desir Hope To Be Gametime Decisions Thursday
- Four Colts Ruled Out, Four Questionable Against Texans
- Tennessee Titans (home)
- New England Patriots (home)