By Jay Betsill
Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans
Sunday – December 14 – 12:00 pm
Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis
The Indianapolis Colts (9-4) are looking to lock up their second straight AFC South title when they host the Houston Texans (7-6) this week at Lucas Oil Stadium. This game is a rematch from Week 6 when the Colts were in Houston for a NFL Network Thursday Night Football contest that saw them get out to a 24-0 first quarter lead and hold on to win 33-28.
“You give a team a 24-point lead right out the gate, you’re going to have a difficult time,” Texans MVP candidate J.J. Watt said, following the loss.
While he was very vocal in his disdain for Thursday Night Football leading up to the game, Texans running back Arian Foster led the way with 109 yards rushing and two touchdowns as Houston fought back only to fall victim to late fumbles by quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and wide receiver Andre Johnson. Foster has averaged 143.5 yards on 22 carries with eight touchdowns in six career games against the Colts.
While Foster has had his way with the Colts, Indianapolis wide receiver T.Y. Hilton has experienced similar success against Houston. In Week 6, he had 223 yards on nine catches and a touchdown while he has averaged 122.2 yards per game with six touchdowns.
The Colts are looking to become the fourth team in NFL history to win their first 13 home games against an opponent as they have dominated the Texans in winning 21 of 25 games including all 12 in Indianapolis. However, they have had turnover issues the past three weeks with a minus-4 turnover margin that includes four turnovers in last week’s 25-24 victory at Cleveland.
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck leads the NFL in passing with 4,305 yards this season that includes 370 yards and three touchdowns against Houston in Week 6. If Houston has any hopes of slowing Luck down, it will rest on the shoulders of Watt, who has 14.5 sacks in and 33 quarterback hits this season.
“You need to keep great pass rush lane integrity,” Watt told HoustonTexans.com. “Our guys know and understand what the situation is and we need to make sure we keep him contained. You do a great job with coverage down the field, but I mean it all starts with just doing your job.”
Injuries of note include a pair of veteran receivers with the Texans Andre Johnson possibly out due to a concussion and the Colts Reggie Wayne playing with torn left triceps. The Texans will also be without the services of No. 1 overall draft pick Jadeveon Clowney for the remainder of the season after he underwent microfracture surgery on his right knee Tuesday.
With the Colts playing their final regular season home game and the opportunity to clinch the division, Indianapolis will win a close game 31-27.