By Jay Betsill
Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans
Thursday – October 9 – 7:25 pm
NRG Stadium – Houston
The Houston Texans (3-2) return home to NRG Stadium to face the Indianapolis Colts (3-2) on Thursday Night Football in a game that will break the current first place tie in the AFC South. Houston is coming off a 20-17 overtime loss to the Dallas Cowboys, while the Colts come to town on a three-game winning streak after defeating the Baltimore Ravens, 20-13.
In the loss at AT&T Stadium, Texans receiver Andre Johnson became the second-fastest receiver to 950 catches by finishing with five for 954 after 159 games. Johnson will likely cross the 13,000 yard mark against the Colts as he goes into the game needing only 19 yards to eclipse it.
Texans running back Arian Foster rebounded from a down game against the Buffalo Bills to shred the Cowboys defense for 157 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries for a 6.8 yards per carry average. Foster is averaging 150.4 yards a game in five career meetings with the Colts, but has made a lot of news this week with his criticism of Thursday night NFL games.
“They emphasize concussions when they start getting hit with lawsuits and they care about the players’ safety, but ‘Thursday Night Football’ is putting every player on the football field in danger,” Foster told The Houston Chronicle.
“I don’t know a player that likes it,” Foster continued. “I really don’t know a fan that likes it, either. I think it’s just the league’s way of trying to generate more revenue.”
In three career Thursday night games, Foster has fared very well, scoring four touchdowns with an average 114.3 yards rushing. The Colts run defense, which has improved from 26th last season to 11th this year, will try to slow down Foster and force quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to beat them through the air.
As for the Texans defense, J.J. Watt will lead the attack to contain Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. Watt leads the NFL with 16 quarterback hits and was the AFC Defensive Player of the Month for September. Meanwhile, Luck, who attended Stratford High School in Houston, is 3-1 in his career against the Texans.
“He’s a freak,” Luck said about Watt. “He’s big, he’s fast, he makes plays. Obviously, he made one heck of an interception return for touchdown. He does a lot of things very, very well. At the same time, I think we have a bunch of good players up front that are up for the challenge and ready to go against him but we do have the utmost respect for how he plays football.”
On offense, the Texans notables include running back Arian Foster (hamstring), wide receiver Andre Johnson (ankle), quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (calf) and wide receiver Damaris Johnson (foot). The defensive side includes defensive end Tim Jamison (groin), cornerback Johnathan Joseph, nose tackle Ryan Pickett (knee), safety Eddie Pleasant (ankle), and defensive end J.J. Watt (thigh). Linebacker Jadeveon Clowney is out.
The Colts have ruled cornerback Darius Butler (ankle), guard Jack Mewhort (ankle), defensive tackle Arthur Jones (ankle) and guard Hugh Thornton (back) out for Thursday night’s game. Linebacker Bjoern Werner (ankle) is listed as probable.
The Texans are looking to bounce back from the loss to the Cowboys, but this will not be the game that it happens. Look for the Colts, who have won 20 of 24 games between the two teams, to win a close contest, 27-21.