2020 Colts Preview: Colts/Texans, Week 15

For the second time in three weeks, the Indianapolis Colts (9-4) on Sunday take on the Houston Texans (4-9), this time at Lucas Oil Stadium in Week 15 action. Check out the official game preview.

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INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts' late-season playoff push continues.

And for the second time in three weeks, the Colts (9-4) on Sunday get set to do battle against their AFC South Division rival Houston Texans (4-9), this time at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Kickoff is at 1 p.m. ET.

These two teams did battle just two weeks ago at NRG Stadium in Houston, where the Colts were able to escape with a 26-20 road victory. The two teams scored 24 and 20 points, respectively, in the first half, but a fourth quarter safety forced by Colts defensive end Justin Houston would be the only points put on the board by either team over the final two quarters. In the end, however, the Texans looked poised to possibly steal a last-minute win, as they faced 2nd and Goal from the 2-yard line with just more than a minute left; but quarterback Deshaun Watson couldn't handle a low snap from center Nick Martin, and linebacker Anthony Walker fell on the loose ball to secure the Indy win.

These two teams would go on to have two very different results last Sunday.

The Colts, again on the road, went to Las Vegas and dominated the Raiders, 44-27. Las Vegas hung around in the first half — Indy led 20-14 going into the halftime break — but Indianapolis, thanks to 89 rushing yards and two touchdowns from Jonathan Taylor and an opportunistic defense that caused two turnovers, ran away with the win. Quarterback Philip Rivers completed 19-of-28 passes for 244 yards with two touchdowns; Taylor had a career day with 20 carries for 150 yards and a touchdown; while T.Y. Hilton hauled in five receptions for 86 yards and two scores. Defensively, cornerback Kenny Moore II had a terrific performance, and would eventually be named AFC Defensive Player of the Week; he had a sensational one-handed interception in the end zone and also forced a Raiders fumble. Safety Khari Willis also added his first-career pick-six.

The Texans, meanwhile, were destroyed by the Chicago Bears, 36-7, last Sunday at Soldier Field. Houston cut Chicago's lead to 14-7 midway through the second quarter, but it was all Bears from there, as they went on a 22-0 run to close out the rest of the ballgame. Chicago had 410 yards of total offense on the day, including 241 through the air and 169 on the ground; the Bears averaged 7.3 yards per carry in all. The Texans' offense, meanwhile, could only muster 263 total yards and turned the ball over twice. Watson completed 21-of-30 passes for 219 yards and a touchdown, while safety Eric Murray had 11 total tackles and two sacks for the Houston defense.

So what all should we be looking for when this thing kicks off? Here is the official game preview.r

BROADCAST INFORMATION

  • Sunday, Dec. 20, at 1 p.m. ET
  • Indianapolis; Lucas Oil Stadium
  • TV: CBS — Greg Gumbel (play-by-play), Rich Gannon (color) and Jay Feely (sideline)
  • Other radio: ESPN Radio — Roxy Bernstein (play-by-play) and Ben Hartsock (color)
  • Colts Official App (*Geographic and device restrictions apply. Local & primetime games only. Data charges may apply.)
  • Colts.com mobile website (Safari browser ONLY)
  • Yahoo! Sports mobile browser or app
  • Click here for MORE WAYS TO WATCH.
  • To find out what games will be on in your area, click here.
  • Local radio: Colts games can be heard in Indianapolis on 93.5, 107.5 and 1070 The Fan and 97.1 HANK FM, plus the desktop version of Colts.com with Matt Taylor (play-by-play), Rick Venturi (color), Larra Overton (sideline) and Bill Brooks (pregame/postgame analyst) on the call.
  • National radio: Fans can listen to the live local call on Colts.com (desktop only) and NFL Game Pass. Get your free seven-day trial by clicking here.

*Please check your local TV listing to confirm availability. iOS mobile web and app users should "Allow Location Access" (via Settings > Privacy > Location Services > Safari).

ALL-TIME SERIES

  • Colts lead, 29-9; Colts are 15-3 all-time against the Texans at home.
  • Last game — Week 13 of 2020; Colts won, 26-20, at NRG Stadium in Houston.

COACHING STAFF

Colts:

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

Texans:

  • HC Romeo Crennel (interim)
  • OC Tim Kelly
  • DC Anthony Weaver
  • STC Tracy Smith

LAST WEEK

Colts:

  • Won at Las Vegas Raiders (7-7), 44-27

Texans:

  • Lost at Chicago Bears (6-7), 36-7

See the best images from Allegiant Stadium as the Indianapolis Colts defeated the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 14.

INJURY UPDATE

Colts:

  • OUT — N/A
  • DOUBTFUL — N/A
  • QUESTIONABLE — TE Mo Alie-Cox (knee), DT DeForest Buckner (ankle), T Anthony Castonzo (knee)

Click here to read more on the injury report for Sunday's game.

Texans:

  • OUT — N/A
  • DOUBTFUL — N/A
  • QUESTIONABLE — CB Phillip Gaines (knee), RB Duke Johnson (neck), S Lonnie Johnson Jr. (knee), RB C.J. Prosise (ankle), CB John Reid (neck)

STORYLINES/THINGS TO WATCH

  • Second matchup in three weeks —As mentioned, the Colts and Texans on Sunday are facing off for the second time in just three weeks. Indy is hoping to avoid the same quick rematch result it faced earlier this season against another division rival in the Tennessee Titans; the Colts went into Nashville and properly disposed of the Titans, 34-17, back in Week 10, but 17 days later it was Tennessee leaving Lucas Oil Stadium with a 45-26 Week 12 win. In terms of Sunday's game against the Texans, there are some notable changes from their game just two weeks ago, particularly when it comes to injured players and who is — and isn't — going to be available. The Colts were without four key contributors in that Week 13 matchup in Houston — left tackle Anthony Castonzo, linebacker Bobby Okereke, safety Khari Willis and punter Rigoberto Sanchez — all of whom are on track to play in this week's game (Castonzo is questionable with a knee injury, but was able to practice this week). The Texans, meanwhile, will be without two starting members of their defense that played in that Week 13 game: safety Justin Reid and defensive tackle Brandon Dunn. Personnel-wise, those are all positive developments for the Colts.
  • Keep offensive momentum going —The Colts' offense has started to ascend down the stretch as the team makes a playoff run — and hopes to keep the momentum going on Sunday against the Texans. In their Week 13 matchup, the Colts came out on fire, scoring 24 first-half points and finding a ton of success through the air, particularly to T.Y. Hilton. The second half was a different story, however, as Indy's offense was held scoreless over the final two quarters (the team did get two points from a Justin Houston sack). The Colts were able to put it all together for most of the game last Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders, however; Indy scored 10, 10, 7 and 17 points, respectively, in each quarter of its 44-27 road win, and had 456 yards of total offense, including 244 through the air and 212 on the ground, led by a career-best 150 rushing yards and two touchdowns from rookie running back Jonathan Taylor. If Taylor and Hilton can keep putting up the production of elite No. 1 players at their positions, and if Philip Rivers can keep playing nearly mistake-free football at the quarterback position, then there's no reason why the Colts can't have their way Sunday against a depleted Texans defense.
  • Playoff implications for Colts —The Colts continue to be in the driver's seat when it comes to their playoff hopes now that three games remain in the regular season. As of this moment, according to fivethirtyeight.com, Indy, currently the sixth seed in the AFC, has a 90-percent chance of making the playoffs. With a win over the Texans on Sunday, that percentage jumps to 96 percent. A loss? And the postseason chances drop to 69 percent. Those figures, of course, aren't factoring in the results from across the league and the conference, but it's a good general idea where the team stands. When looking at the AFC South standings, the Colts and Titans are currently tied atop the division at 9-4, but the Titans at this point would get the division title — and the home playoff game that goes with it — due to tiebreakers. If the Colts were to win on Sunday and the Titans were to lose to the Detroit Lions, however, Indy's odds of winning the division jump from 39 percent to 85 percent; an Indy loss on Sunday and a Tennessee win, however, and the Colts' AFC South title hopes are a measly 10 percent with two games left to play. Long story short: just take care of your own business and worry about everyone else later.
  • In Greg's memory —One bonus item to look for on Sunday: the Colts will be honoring the life of Greg Hylton, the team's longtime vice president of premium seating and ticket sales who last week lost his battle with cancer. Colts players will wear a "For Greg" ribbon helmet decal, while coaches and staff will wear a "For Greg" ribbon lapel pin. What's more, players, coaches, cheerleaders and staff will wear special tribute T-shirts at different points before and during the game. Team mascot "Blue" will also wear a "HYLTON" nameplate and "For Greg" patch, while, the team will honor Greg with a pregame video and a tribute in The Scout, the team's gameday publication. A Brownsburg, Ind., native, Greg spent the past 23 years with the Colts organization and was responsible for building the franchise's first premium seating and sales program. As vice president, he oversaw a staff that built partnerships with local businesses, organizations and individuals through Lucas Oil Stadium suites, club seats and other premium seating. A terrific family man, Greg is survived by his wife, Terri, and his daughters, Taylor and Brynn. He is also survived by parents, Anna and Larry Hylton; brother, Eric Hylton (Mercy); nieces and nephews, Rachel, Sebastian and Nathaniel Hylton; Danielle (Smock) Myers and husband Sam; Alyssa, Alexandra and Samantha Smock; Joley, Wyatt, Callie and Remi Clodfelter, as well as many cousins, aunts and uncles and his mother-in-law. Greg's wish was that Colts supporters would consider giving to Sheltering Wings to make a lasting impact on the lives of domestic violence victims in our community. To donate, click here, or, checks can be mailed to Sheltering Wings, PO Box 92, Danville, IN 46122.

INTRIGUING MATCHUPS

  • Colts LT Anthony Castonzo vs. Texans DE J.J. Watt: While Watt, for the most part, primarily lines up on the left side of the defensive line opposite the right tackle and guard, the future Hall of Famer had plenty of success two weeks ago rushing off the right edge against Indy's left tackles, who were filling in for an injured Castonzo. Although Castonzo is officially questionable heading into today's game, if he's able to go for a second straight week, one has to imagine the Texans won't be as apt to move Watt over to his side. Castonzo this season has allowed just 18 total pressures, according to Pro Football Focus, including just two sacks and three quarterback hits. When Watt lines up opposite Colts right tackle Braden Smith, meanwhile, he'll be facing one of the best up-and-coming offensive linemen in the league; Smith this season has allowed 21 quarterback pressures, but zero sacks and just one hit. Watt's simply going to get his plays throughout any ballgame, but if the Colts are at full strength up front on Sunday, that should help tremendously.
  • Colts WR T.Y. Hilton vs. Texans CB Vernon Hargreaves III: It's really "T.Y. Hilton vs. [insert Texans player in coverage here]," because, let's be honest, The Ghost just continues to haunt this poor Texans franchise. Two weeks ago, Hilton had eight receptions for a season-best 110 yards and a touchdown, continuing his dominance against the Texans in Houston. But Hilton also has had plenty of notable performance against the Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium, and after another huge performance last Sunday against the Raiders that included five receptions for 86 yards and two touchdowns, No. 13 is red hot. Hargreaves III, meanwhile, continues to struggle as Houston's top cornerback; his 110.0 NFL QB rating allowed is the third-worst among all qualifying corners, according to PFF, as he has allowed 49 receptions for 639 yards and four touchdowns to one interception while in coverage this season.
  • Colts DE Justin Houston vs. Texans QB Deshaun Watson: It's no secret that the Houston offense starts and ends with its talented quarterback. I mean, there's a reason why those in Indy have started calling Watson the "Magic Man," as he just seems to have this innate ability to make spectacular plays no matter what the supporting cast is around him. In their Week 13 matchup, the Colts had their best pass rushing performance of the season, which included three sacks and a safety forced by Justin Houston, and five sacks total, and still, Watson — who completed 26-of-38 passes for 341 yards and was picked once, and also had seven rushing attempts for 38 yards and a touchdown — put his team in a position to win late. Now, we all know how the game ended: a Watson couldn't handle a low, hot snap from center Nick Martin on a 2nd and Goal play from the 2-yard line, and Anthony Walker fell on the football to secure a six-point win, 26-20, so one has to imagine that Watson will be trying to exact revenge on Sunday in Indy. It'll be up to Justin Houston & Co. to keep applying pressure and ensure that does not happen.
  • Colts CB Kenny Moore II vs. Texans WR Keke Coutee: We all know T.Y. Hilton's uncanny ability to have his best performances against the Texans, but, for whatever reason, Coutee has been able to do the same to the Colts — just with a much smaller sample size. Two weeks ago in Houston, Coutee hauled in eight receptions for 141 yards, for an average of 17.6 yards per catch; in three games against the Colts, Coutee has now averaged just fewer than 10 targets with about seven receptions for 92 yards. With Coutee primarily lining up in the slot, he'll once again mostly be the responsibility of Moore II, the reigning AFC Defensive Player of the Week after his insane one-handed interception in the end zone and forced fumble last Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders. If the Colts' defense can lock Coutee down in the open field, as well as limit Deshaun Watson's ability to escape the pocket and find someone, anyone, down the field for a big chunk, then it should be a favorable result for Indy on Sunday.

REFEREE ASSIGNMENT

BETTING LINE

REGULAR SEASON LEADERS

Colts:

  • Passing — QB Philip Rivers (3,507 yards)
  • Rushing — RB Jonathan Taylor (759 yards)
  • Receiving — WR T.Y. Hilton (604 yards)
  • Touchdowns — RB Nyheim Hines, RB Jonathan Taylor (7 each)
  • Tackles — LB Darius Leonard (91)
  • Sacks — Justin Houston (7.5)
  • Interceptions — CB Kenny Moore II (4)

Texans:

  • Passing — QB Deshaun Watson (3,761 yards)
  • Rushing — RB David Johnson (452 yards)
  • Receiving — WR Will Fuller V (879 yards)
  • Touchdowns — WR Will Fuller V (8)
  • Tackles — LB Zach Cunningham (118)
  • Sacks — DE J.J. Watt (5.5)
  • Interceptions — CB Vernon Hargreaves III, CB Bradley Roby, DE J.J. Watt (1 each)

COMPARING 2020 STATS

Colts:

  • Total offense — 9th (376.7 YPG)
  • Scoring — 5th (28.6 PPG)
  • Passing offense — 8th (263.7 YPG)
  • Sack percentage allowed — 4th (3.25)
  • Rushing offense — 15th (113.0 YPG)
  • Third down offense — 24th (39.26 percent)
  • Red zone offense — Tied-20th (57.14 percent)
  • Total defense — 6th (327.1 YPG)
  • Scoring defense — 12th (23.1 PPG)
  • Passing defense — 13th (227.8 YPG)
  • Sacks — Tied-17th (28)
  • Rushing defense — 5th (99.2 YPG)
  • Third down defense — 21st (42.59 percent)
  • Red zone defense — 19th (62.79 percent)
  • Time of possession — 10th (30:51)
  • Turnover differential — Tied-2nd (+10)

Texans:

  • Total offense — 18th (356.5 YPG)
  • Scoring — 23rd (22.7 PPG)
  • Passing offense — 5th (270.2 YPG)
  • Sack percentage allowed — 30th (9.26)
  • Rushing offense — 32nd (86.2 YPG)
  • Third down offense — 15th (42.04 percent)
  • Red zone offense — 19th (57.89 percent)
  • Total defense — 31st (406.6 YPG)
  • Scoring defense — 25th (27.6 PPG)
  • Passing defense — 24th (254.3 YPG)
  • Sacks — Tied-14th (31)
  • Rushing defense — 31st (152.3 YPG)
  • Third down defense — 25th (45.83 percent)
  • Red zone defense — 20th (62.00 percent)
  • Time of possession — 31st (27:03)
  • Turnover differential — Tied-25th (-6)

NOTES AND QUOTES

Kicker Rodrigo Blankenship

  • With one field goal made, he will pass Mike Vanderjagt (27) for the second-most field goals made by a rookie in franchise history.
  • With three field goals made, he will tie Raul Allegre (30) for the most field goals made by a rookie in franchise history.
  • With four field goals made, he will pass Raul Allegre (30) for the most field goals made by a rookie in franchise history.
  • With one extra point made, he will tie Jim O'Brien (36) for the most extra points made by a rookie in franchise history.
  • With two extra points made, he will pass Jim O'Brien (36) for the most extra points made by a rookie in franchise history.

Cornerback T.J. Carrie

  • With one defensive or special teams return for a touchdown, he will tie Ray Buchanan and Terrence Wilkins (three) for the most such touchdowns in single-season franchise history.

Cornerback T.J. Carrie, cornerback Kenny Moore II, cornerback Xavier Rhodes, safety Khari Willis

  • With one interception returned for a touchdown, they will tie numerous players for the second-most interceptions returned for a touchdown (two) in single-season franchise history.

Tight end Jack Doyle

  • With four receptions, he will tie Ken Dilger (261) for the fourth-most receptions by a tight end in team history.

Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton

  • With two receptions, he will reach 600 career receptions.
  • With one touchdown, he will pass Jimmy Orr (50) and tie Marshall Faulk (51) for the eighth-most total touchdowns in team history.
  • With one receiving touchdown, he will tie Jimmy Orr (50) for the fourth-most receiving touchdowns in team history.
  • With two receiving touchdowns, he will pass Jimmy Orr (50) for the fourth-most receiving touchdowns in team history.
  • With 18 yards from scrimmage, he will tie Raymond Berry (9,275) for the fifth-most scrimmage yards in team history.
  • With 19 yards from scrimmage, he will pass Raymond Berry (9,275) for the fifth-most scrimmage yards in team history.
  • With 73 receiving yards, he will tie Raymond Berry (9,275) for the third-most receiving yards in team history.
  • With 74 receiving yards, he will pass Raymond Berry (9,275) for the third-most receiving yards in team history.
  • With one game with 10+ receptions, he will pass Don McCauley, Lydell Mitchell, Joe Washington, Anthony Johnson and Dallas Clark, all with three, for the third-most games with 10+ receptions in team history.

Defensive end Justin Houston

  • Needs 3.0 sacks to reach 100.0 for his career. He would become the 35th player in NFL history to reach that plateau since sacks became an official statistic in 1982.
  • With one safety, he will pass Ted Hendricks, Doug English and Jared Allen (four) for the most safeties in NFL history.

Linebacker Darius Leonard

  • With three tackles, he will reach 100 total tackles this season for the third consecutive season. Since 2000, he would be just the fourth player in franchise history to accomplish that feat and the only one to do so in their first three seasons in the league.

Cornerback Xavier Rhodes

  • With one tackle, he will reach 400 career tackles.

Quarterback Philip Rivers

  • With one game with three-or-more touchdown passes, he will tie Dan Marino (62) for the sixth-most games of three-or-more touchdown passes in NFL history.
  • With one game with 400+ passing yards, he will tie Ben Roethlisberger (12) for the fourth-most games with 400+ passing yards in NFL history.
  • With one game started, he will tie Tony Gonzalez (238) for the eighth-most games started in NFL history.
  • With three touchdown passes, he will tie Dan Marino (420) for the fifth-most touchdown passes in NFL history.
  • With four touchdown passes, he will pass Dan Marino (420) for the fifth-most touchdown passes in NFL history.

"From a physical standpoint, it's his accuracy and anticipation. They're elite, they are as good as anybody. Then from the mental side of it, he is just a complete master of the game – the run game, pass game, screen game. The things that he sees out on the field before they happen in coverages and pressures – we'll be watching the film and we'll say, 'How did he know that was going to happen?' We're sitting here as coaches watching the tape 50 times and he sees something or feels something out on the field that nobody else felt except for him. He is a special player like that." — Colts head coach Frank Reich, asked what specifically has impressed him about quarterback Philip Rivers this season.

"He's just been special since he's been here, just to be frank. He's a great young man, he has high character. He brings energy and enthusiasm on the practice field. He's very serious about his business, meaning that he's a true pro. When he comes in tomorrow and he's already been studying the opponent the last couple days and he'll be taking notes and asking questions and helping other guys understand the game plan. He's just a pro through and through. We're so excited to have him. Our scouting department did a great job finding a young man like him and the character that he has. He's a good player. That's the one thing you have to be. He's quick and explosive. He's a good tackler and plays well in space. We've been having him primarily as the guy that drops down for us, that covers guys and fits the run game, but he can play in the deep part of the field too. He does a lot of things well for us, but I would say the main thing is the way he practices and the way he prepares and his energy and enthusiasm all the way through the week and into the game time. He's pretty impressive." — Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, asked about his impressions of second-year safety Khari Willis.

"I think a little bit of everything that you just said, right? It's a little bit of the scheme – the emphasis of getting him the football, which we always have the emphasis of getting it to him. A little bit of the defense and a little bit that he is just getting better with each week of the season as the season goes. What I do know is this, when he has the football and when we're getting him the football, I know it's good for our offense and good for our team as a whole." — Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni on what has led to wide receiver T.Y. Hilton's resurgence the last three games.

"Not many unless I intentionally drove to it or flew to a place – a location where we were hoping to get snow. It was little bit Christmas Eve-ish. I say that and I haven't had a lot of Christmas Eves where it was going to snow on Christmas, but everybody was little excited last night at our house asking if there is going to be snow in the morning and what time was it going to start. You've never heard children talk about the weather and when the snow was going to start so much, I bet in any house. They were all fired up this morning. There were a bunch of picture texts I got in general just of the kids being excited seeing snow this morning." — Colts quarterback Philip Rivers, asked how many times he had woken up to snow prior to Wednesday in Indianapolis.

"It's great to see everybody. I wanted to start off by saying that I'm just happy to be here talking to you guys. I want to start off by thanking the Irsay family, the Colts organization, Coach (Frank) Reich, (Chris) Ballard, the list goes on and on – the team, the Colts fan base, idols that texted me from around the league that are punters and kickers. It was unbelievable. My wife obviously was there throughout the whole process. I was overwhelmed throughout this crazy process of ups and downs mentally and all of it but it helped out so much having everybody by my side – family members reaching out, friends, you name it. I could go on for hours of the amount of support that I received throughout this whole process. I know you guys might be curious of what type of cancer I had, but I'm going to keep that personal if that's OK with you guys. I'm just so thankful that they caught it early and it didn't spread anywhere around my body. I'm just so grateful for the doctors here in the Colts locker room and in Indiana as well. It's incredible how things pan out sometimes. I could have gone to any other team and Indiana is like where it's at for medicine. I'm just so grateful to be here with you guys and it's amazing to be back." — Colts punter Rigoberto Sanchez's opening remarks to reporters on Wednesday, just a couple weeks after having a cancerous tumor surgically removed from his body. Sanchez is set to make his return to game action on Sunday vs. the Texans.

50/50 RAFFLE

  • The Indianapolis Colts Foundation's 50/50 Raffle will be ACTIVE for the Colts vs. Texans game on Dec. 20. During the 2020 season, all Colts games including the 50/50 Raffle will be cashless. Debit cards are the only form of payment that will be accepted to purchase a 50/50 Raffle ticket. Reverse ATM machines are available for fans who need to exchange their cash for pre-paid debit cards. These machines are located outside of sections 116 and 153. For more information on the Indianapolis Colts Foundation's 50/50 Raffle, visit www.colts.com/5050.

CATCH BEFORE THE GAME

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