INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts will look for their 10th straight AFC South win on Thursday night in a trip to Houston.
The co-leaders of the AFC South will meet for an 8:25 p.m. EST kickoff at NRG Stadium.
What should fans be looking for when the Colts travel to Houston on Thursday Night Football?
1. AFC South Supremacy
-The Colts will wrap up their three-game divisional stretch in four weeks on Thursday night. A win would give the Colts an early one-game divisional lead and move them to 3-0 in the AFC South. That would be key considering the Colts play just one divisional game between Weeks 7-14 of the regular season (a Week 12 matchup vs. Jacksonville).
2. Dealing With A Short Week
-All week long the Colts have heard about the difficulty of preparing for a Thursday night game, especially from a road standpoint. Playing a divisional game on Thursday is supposed to alleviate some of that challenge in regards to familiarity but the Texans have a new coaching staff in 2014. The Colts are 2-0 under Chuck Pagano in short weeks, with a blowout win vs. Jacksonville in 2012 and a two-score comeback victory in Tennessee last year.
3. Stopping Arian Foster
-When healthy, Foster has been a workhorse for the Texans this year. He's had at least 23 carries and 103 rushing yards in the three games he's been healthy. Foster was limited to eight carries and six rushing yards in Week Four but still contributed seven catches for 55 yards. Foster had 157 rushing yards last week and ranks third in the NFL in rushing yards despite missing an entire game due to injury.
4. J.J. Watt's Presence
-It might be a short week, but J.J. Watt has the Colts full attention. The disruptive defensive end leads the NFL with 16 quarterback hits and has even recorded a pick six, and caught a touchdown pass on offense in 2014. The Colts have quieted the NFL's best defensive player in the teams' last three meetings with Watt only recording one sack in those contests.
*5. Fast Start *
-Playing away from home, the importance of getting off to a fast start is cranked up a notch. The Colts remember all too well digging themselves an 18-point hole in Houston last year before Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton hooked up for three touchdowns in the game's final 16 minutes. The Colts will play three of their next four games on the road in later time slots, so taking those visiting crowds out of the game early would be a bonus.
6. Red Zone Efficiency
-A week after playing the top red zone defense in the NFL, the Colts will face the third best such unit in Houston. Against the Ravens, the Colts got to the Baltimore 35-yard line eight times but only came away with 20 points. The Texans have come up with nine red zone turnovers, which is a major reason why their defense finds itself near the top of the NFL inside the 20-yard line.
*7. Ball Security *
-Last year, Houston ranked last in the NFL with 11 takeaways. The Texans already have 12 this year and, like mentioned above, the timeliness of those turnovers have been critical. The Colts have nine giveaways in 2014, a relatively high number for how productive the offense has been this year.