Date: Sunday, October 16, 2016
Start Time: 8:30 p.m. ET (5:30 p.m. PT)
Location: Houston, TX
TV Channel: NBC
It is Week 6, and the Indianapolis Colts (2-3) are in the thick of the AFC South division race. They would claim at least a share of the top spot with a win over the Houston Texans (3-2) Sunday evening.
Last Sunday’s win adds more intrigue to their divisional matchup with the Texans, who just lost to the Minnesota Vikings 31-13. The winner of this showdown could gain a stranglehold of the division as both sides head into the meat of their schedules.
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Even though the Colts won, they are still nowhere close to solving their season-long issues. The team is still struggling to move the ball offensively, it cannot adequately protect Luck from sacks, and it still cannot pressure an opposing quarterback consistently.
The Texans are also an inconsistent football team. They have held opponents below 20 points in their wins, but have allowed at least 27 points in their losses. Plus, their offensive leader Brock Osweiler is the only QB who has thrown at least one interception in every game this season.
The Texans play well against the weaker NFL teams, but get absolutely throttled by the league’s elite. The Colts are playing like one of the weaker teams in the league, so there is a good chance the Texans will play well Sunday.
The Colts split the season series with the Texans last year. They won first meeting 27-20 thanks to Matt Hasselbeck. However, they lost the second meeting 16-10; a game that ended up deciding the winner of the AFC South division that year.
There was a key figure missing in both those showdowns last year: Andrew Luck. He missed both games with two different injuries. Luck is 5-1 in his career against the Texans as the Colts’ starting quarterback.
This division rivalry usually has implications on who wins the AFC South. This year’s Week 6 matchup will be no different; even though, both sides are far from perfect and still trying to find their team identities.
The key battle to watch when these two teams square off Sunday is the Colts’s pass offense vs. the Texans pass defense. Nearly 75% of the Colts’ total yardage comes through the air. The Texans have the fourth best pass defense, in terms of passing yards allowed.
If the Texans hold the Colts below 300 passing yards, Houston has a very good shot at winning. Unfortunately for Indianapolis, it appears that T.Y. Hilton is the only receiver who consistently gets open. Phillip Dorsett needs to finally show up and draw some attention away from Hilton.
The Texans should be able to feast on the Colts offensively and defensively. Not only should they be able to contain all of Indianapolis’ receivers, they should also be able to generate a pass rush consistently.
They may not have J.J. Watt (on IR with back injury). However, the Colts have allowed a league-high 20 sacks this season. Whitney Mercilus and Benardrick McKinney should be able to torment Indianapolis’ offensive line.
Meanwhile, the Colts are 29th in passing yards allowed and 20th in rushing yards allowed. The Texans have the players to attack both weaknesses. Osweiler may turn the ball over, but he can torch weak secondaries. Also, running back Lamar Miller is very good.
Strangely, most Vegas odd-makers only see the Texans as 3-point favorites at home. Basically, that is a pick’em game. The low point spread is most likely correlated with the unpredictability with both teams.
It is a division game so the old cliché “anything can happen in a rivalry” applies in this scenario. Games between these two teams usually end up being close no matter how each side is playing coming in. However, the Colts’ vulnerabilities will cost them in the end.
Prediction: Texans 24, Colts 20