INDIANAPOLIS –For the third time in the past month, the Colts face a tall order on the road with an opposing offense.
Indianapolis had to contend with New England and Detroit in its last two road games away from home and in earning a 1-1 mark in those outings, the Colts defense was put to the test.
The unit allowed a combined 897 net yards, 46 first downs (35 via the pass), a 4.7 rushing average (126.5 yards per game), 51 completions in 81 attempts for 644 yards and five touchdowns, while not producing a sack and forcing one turnover.
The Patriots offense scored 38 of the team's points in a 59-24 win, while the Colts clipped Detroit at the end, 35-33.
Houston is next for the Colts with an offense that features a talented trio.
Matt Schaub has hit 64 percent of his passes for 3,294 yards and 21 touchdowns, while running back Arian Foster has 1,148 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. Wide receiver Andre Johnson has 82 receptions for 1,209 yards and three scores.
Houston joins New England and Tampa Bay as the only NFL offenses to have a quarterback surpass 3,000 yards and with rushers and receivers topping 1,000.
"Every week every team's got a great running back and receiver and a quarterback," said Interim Head Coach Bruce Arians. "There's just another battle this week. It's going to be a great challenge."
Ranked sixth, Houston has one of the NFL's top offenses, like New England (first) and Detroit (second).
After playing three straight on the road, Houston is back in a venue where it is 5-1 and holds a 33.2 scoring average. The Texans have topped 30 points in four of six home games.
The 11-2 Texans are operating on a short week after a 42-14 loss at New England on Monday.
In falling behind quickly and eventually 28-0, the offense did not have its usual chance to impact the game.
It was the first time in 14 outings without the unit controlling the ball for more than 30 minutes.
The 42-5 won-loss template under Head Coach Gary Kubiak for rushing the ball at least 30 times was not met, and a pattern of leading at the half in nine of 12 previous games was reversed with a 21-0 deficit.
The team's third-down shortcomings (30.5 percent in the last six games) are cited by Kubiak as lingering issues for his attack.
"It's always a focus," said Kubiak. "If you're making third downs, you're staying on the field. You've got possession time. You're helping your defense. We've been pretty good at it for about nine weeks. We have not been very good at that the last three or four weeks. You've got to make those plays. It's going to have to get a lot better if we're going to play better here down the stretch."
Houston is looking to clinch a second straight division title. The game features teams that have not lost consecutive games all year. The Texans responded from a 42-24 home loss to Green Bay by drilling Baltimore, 43-13.
Indianapolis has won seven-of-eight and still can win the South. It is looking for its first win in Houston since 2009.
"It's the most important game of the year because it is the next game," said Arians. "This just happens to be a huge division game. It will have a lot of implications one way or the other, like they all do. We have an opportunity to do something special. We still haven't done anything yet."