Will the Texans apply a tourniquet in time or will they continue to bleed out and stumble into the playoffs as the third seed without a bye? Its clear cut, win and they'll be the number one seed and be in a great situation to reach the Super Bowl, lose and they'll have to play in the wildcard round and go on the road in round two like last year; a serious blow to their chances to make a deep playoff run. There are possible scenarios in which they could lose on Sunday and still end up as the first or second seed, but that seems extremely unlikely considering they'd need the Denver Broncos and/or New England Patriots to lose and those two teams are playing the Chiefs and Dolphins (both home games). Either way as the first seed or the third seed, I think the Texans will only win one playoff game. I just don't like their chances against Denver or New England right now with the way they can spread out the defense and attack the Texans holes. However, if that one win is in the 2nd round as the top seed, then they'll be in a one game scenario at home with a puncher's chance that something weird or lucky could happen and send them to the Super Bowl. If they're the third seed, no way can they win back to back road games at Denver and New England.
Despite winning their first matchup by 12, the Texans didn't dominate that game. They led by only six going into the fourth quarter and benefited from costly mistakes from the Colts. Had Mewelde Moore held on to the ball at the one yard line and Bryan Braman not come through untouched, the Colts win that game 24-22. I believe the Texans are the better team, but the better team doesn't always win. They needed help from the Colts to win the last game, I wouldn't count on getting help again with this matchup in Indianapolis and the added emotional boost from Chuck Pagano returning to the team.
What should we make of the Texans? Are they the team that beat Baltimore by 30 points or the team that looked pathetic at home against an average Vikings team? There seems to be a trend in their three losses. Not that this will shock you, but in their three losses the running game and more specifically Arian Foster has struggled and Matt Schaub has failed to pick up the slack. In those three losses, Foster has averaged 30 yards on 2.14 yards per carry while Schaub has thrown for an average of 214 yards with a combined zero touchdown passes to three interceptions.
Packers - 17 carries for 29 yards
Patriots - 15 carries for 46 yards
Vikings - 10 carries for 15 yards
Packers - 232 yards, 0 TD/2 INT
Patriots - 232 yards, 0 TD/1 INT
Vikings - 178 yards, 0 TD/0 INT
Texans Offense vs. Colts Defense
The Texans will need another big game from Arian Foster who ran for a season high 165 yards in their last meeting. The Texans not only depend on the run to pick up yards, but their passing game tends to fall apart without help from the running game to set up their playaction, bootleg passing attack. A week after giving up the big game to Foster, the Colts allowed the Chiefs to run for 352 yards on eight yards per carry including 226 from pro bowl back Jamaal Charles. The Colts rank 30th in the league in rushing yards allowed, the Texans need to dominate on the ground early to set up their passing game and quiet the crowd. In four career games against the Colts, Arian Foster is averaging 164 rushing yards per game on 6.6 yards per carry with five touchdowns; they need another monster game from him this week. They'll have opportunities to make plays in the passing game, but their success will come down to how well they run the ball.
Texans Defense vs. Colts Offense
The Texans shouldn't expect to and don't need to shut down the Colts offense. They held Reggie Wayne to 14 yards receiving and Andrew Luck completed less than 50 percent of his passes in their last game, but Vick Ballard ran for over 100 yards against them and the Colts had the ball in the 4th quarter with a chance to take the lead. The Texans don't need to shut out the Colts, just hold them at or under 20 points and that should be good enough for a win. Ballard ran the ball well in their last game, but having Brooks Reed back should help because Whitney Mercilus has struggled against the run. Luck has played better at home this season, but has completed less than 50 percent of his passes in four straight games and has averaged just 195 yards passing in his last three games. He's played well for a rookie, but I don't believe he's capable yet of the type of consistency it takes to win a big game like this. He's led several comebacks, but part of that is because he's played poorly in the first half and put his team in a hole.
Texans Win If
- Arian Foster runs for over 115+ yards on 4.5 YPC or better
- J.J. Watt dominates the Colts offensive line again
- Matt Schaub avoids big mistakes
Colts Win If
- Andrew Luck throws for 300+ yards, 2 or more touchdowns, and completes 60% or better
- Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis get to Schaub and combine for three or more sacks
- Limit Arian Foster to under four yards per carry