INDIANAPOLIS – To say some things have changed since the last time the Colts/Texans met would be an understatement.
In Week Five, the Colts went down to Houston on a short week and really controlled the bulk of a 27-20 victory.
That win is why the Colts hold the current tiebreaker over the Texans.
What has changed for both teams since the two met on Oct. 8?
-Sick Matt Hasselbeck: The 40-year-old Hasselbeck couldn't even speak at the team's offensive meetings on Wednesday night. Riding to the stadium before the game, Hasselbeck was unsure if he could start, let alone play 60 minutes. Hasselbeck lasted the entire game, completing 18-of-29 passes for 213 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. It was Hasselbeck's second win in five days.
-Quiet J.J. Watt: Zero solo tackles. Zero sacks. J.J. Watt's name is almost never associated with such a stat line. That happened though back in Week Five. The Colts used a variety of methods on Watt (tight end help, Anthony Castonzo flipping over to make an unbalanced line, etc.). Joe Reitz, playing at his normal right tackle spot, deserves plenty of credit for neutralizing the NFL's best defensive player.
-More Gore: Frank Gore's most productive game in 2015 came when the Colts needed him the most. Playing on the road, on a short week, with a bed-ridden quarterback, Gore piled up 98 rushing yards on 22 carries against the Texans.
-Andre's Return: The Week Five win over the Texans was about the Colts veterans not showing their age. Johnson caught six balls (in seven targets) for 77 yards and two touchdowns. The variety of Johnson's catches made this easily his best performance with the Colts.
-Mallett Leaves: A roughing the passer penalty from Colts linebacker Sio Moore sent then Texans starting quarterback Ryan Mallett to the sideline of this Week Five contest. Brian Hoyer entered and led the Texans to 20 points in two and a half quarters of work. The Colts won't see either of those guys on Sunday. T.J. Yates will be Texans starting quarterback.
-No Answer For Hopkins: To say the Texans force-fed DeAndre Hopkins the ball back in Week Five would be an understatement. The Pro Bowler receiver delivered with 11 catches for 169 yards. Vontae Davis, who was dealing with an ankle injury and played after being a true game-time decision, did not shadow Hopkins.
-Stat Outliers: Looking at the box score of the Colts 27-20 victory and some glaring stats stick out. Third-down conversions (Colts: 3-of-11, Texans: 8-of-16), yards gained (Texans: 444, Colts 323), penalties (Texans: 13-125, Colts: 7-65), red zone (Colts: 3-of-4, Texans 1-of-3). The last two stats were the difference in the Colts leaving Houston with their third straight win.
-Thursday Prep: Perhaps the biggest difference from these two teams meeting this season falls on the day of the week. Both teams will obviously have a full week of preparation this time around with the stakes incredibly high. Lose on Sunday and your hopes at the playoff are miniscule at best.
-Colts Personnel Changes: The Colts "healthy" quarterbacks who dressed in Week Five were Matt Hasselbeck and Josh Johnson, so let's put the uncertain quarterback position aside and concentrate elsewhere. The Colts didn't have Jerrell Freeman back in Houston. Besides that, the personnel is very similar, minus Henry Anderson.
-Texans Personnel Changes: The Texans will have a very new look on the offensive side of the ball. T.J. Yates is the expected starter (wasn't with the team back in October). Houston won't have Arian Foster at running back (now a committee of three/four running backs). The Texans will have their No. 2 and 3 wideouts this time around (Cecil Shorts and Nate Washington).
Highlights from the Colts win over the Texans!