The Indianapolis Colts are not only AFC South rivals this year, but they will be AFC Wildcard weekend opponents as the Texans host the Colts on Saturday. The young quarterback, bone-crushing defense and amazing individual efforts will all be on display in an effort to survive and advance. Unfortunately, only one team will have what it takes to win this game, but which one will it be? Let’s take a look at the determining factors that could alter this game. Let’s start with the Houston Texans.
1) Don’t be Superman Deshaun Watson
The Houston Texans need Watson to play well. Occasionally he needs to make that spectacular play that makes everyone’s mouth drop, but he has to be precise and special throwing the football and do the simple things. The more he has to make those special plays that are otherworldly, the more the offense will get away from getting other things involve and throw too much on the shoulders of the young phenom. Balance is key. The Texans need Watson to play well but he does not need to be Superman to win. This is a team game. Oh and that Superman play could lead to turnovers too, so he has to be careful there.
2) The Law firm of Watt and Clowney
Both Clowney and Watt are a fearsome twosome when they are rolling. The Colts interior offensive line has been strong this year, but on the ends is where they can be had, especially with Colts offensive tackle Anthony Constanzo out there playing. Look for the Texans to attack the perimeter of the Colts offensive line and try to make Luck stay in the pocket. The more he has to stay in the pocket and has pressure around him, the more he will be susceptible to making a mistake like he did against the Titans throwing that inexplicable pick six. The Clowney/Watt connection, especially if the Colts get in third and predictable passing situations, could be a huge determining factor in this game.
3) Who run it?
The Colts have been stellar against the run this season, ranking eighth in the NFL. The Texans can have respect for that, but they have to make the Colts respect their running game. The combination of running backs the Texans have can definitely give the Colts fits like Derrick Henry did at spots against the Colts last week. The big thing will be consistency though, as the Titans lacked that in the running game. The better they are able to run the football, the more they can keep Andrew Luck on the sideline and that will limit his chance and potentially have him pressing all game long.
The Texans have a lot of things that could go their way, but so do the Colts. Here are three things that could lead them to victory.
1) Protect the franchise
The franchise is Andrew Luck and everyone knows that. What everyone else does not know is they have one of the best interior lines in the NFL. They must play up to par in this game if they want to win because they can help spark the Colts running game. If that happens, then the Texans have a whole new set of problems outside of Andrew Luck. The return of Ryan Kelly should make them even stronger inside this week.
2) Can the Colts defense continue to be punishing?
Quiet as it’s kept, the Indianapolis Colts have the 11th ranked defense in the NFL. What is even more amazing is you really cannot name more than two of their starters without looking at the program. This group of no-names have made an impact on this team and have taken some pressure off the Indy offense. They have a tremendous task this week going against the high-powered Texans offense, led by Deshaun Watson. If they can force them into predictable downs and distances, they will increase their chances of winning in hostile territory.
3) Special teams
We know about Andrew Luck and the no-name defense, but let’s talk about one of the greatest kickers in NFL history, Adam Vinatieri. He may have aged, but he is still a weapon for them. The Texans may want to be aware of that and keep the Colts out of reach from scoring as best they can. With Vinatieri though, it will be hard to do that because even at his age, he can still kick some deep field goals. And with the roof close more than likely in Houston, that means he can kick it from even further. He could potentially be the difference in the game should the Colts win this one.
The Colts and Texans are both teams that got extremely hot during the season and both can be lethal offensively. The biggest denominator in this game could be turnovers and who wins that battle, but these six points could also determine who survives and advances.
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