The Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans met for the third time this season on Saturday, this time it was the playoffs. The Texans won the first battle, but the Colts won the second, so this playoff game amounted to what was a rubber match for these two teams. And in that rubber match, the Colts proved too strong, dominating the Texan 21-7 in in Houston. As it stands right now, the Colts are the hottest team in the NFL and getting it done in all phases. And the best thing for the Colts right now is they are doing all this without really having to rely on Andrew Luck to be Superman.
In the past, the Colts’ success lived or died on the strength of Andrew Luck playing well. If he bombed or played average, the team would not win, but if he shined, then they dominated. These days, all he has to do is be the quarterback of the Colts and not a superstar with superstar performances all the time. One big reason he has been able to do so is the play of running back Marlon Mack. The second-year running back out of South Florida was not highly sought after he ended the draft in 2017. And in his first year, he wasn’t really making a name for himself. In his second season though, he has definitely vaulted himself into being the main back for the Colts. He finished the season with 906 yards rushing, but what is more impressive is what he has done in the last four games. Of those last four games including Saturday’s playoff game, he has ran for over 100 yards three times including two times he has ran for over 130 yards. The addition of the running game is huge for Luck because he doesn’t have to drop back and throw the football a ton of times every single game and all the pressure isn’t on his right arm anymore.
Along with the strong play from Mack at running back, the defense has been strong this year for the Colts. Coming into this season, the Colts were known for their atrocious defense. In 2016 and 2017, they ranked 30th in the NFL in total defense, which is horrible. This season, however, things have changed. The Colts total rank went from 30th in the NFL in 2017 to 11th overall in the 2018 season. Where they were most impressive this season is against the run. Last season, they were 26th against the run, allowing teams to run it any time they wanted. This season, the Colts are actually Top 10 defensively against the run, giving teams fits. The perfect example of their dominance defensively was in how they handled the Texans on Saturday. They only allowed seven points and those seven points were scored in the fourth quarter. They kept Deshaun Watson in check all game long and just would not allow the Texans to get in any kind of offensive rhythm.
The Colts showed what has made them one of the best teams in the playoffs on Saturday evening and going forward, they have to be a team to watch. After all, they did this with Andrew Luck not even having an outstanding game.
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