This Sunday the Colts begin their final push going into the playoffs against the Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium. As I stated in my last article, the Colts have yet to provide any insight into what we can expect to see on the field on a regular basis from them. Last week in Cincinnati, the offense did give most of us something to look forward to as Luck and company were pretty brilliant in the second half. Recently activated Da’Rick Rogers and Lavon Brazill both grabbed two touchdowns apiece, and showed that they could be relied upon to take some of the pressure off of Luck, and help take some attention away from T.Y. Hilton as well. Trent Richardson also showed that he can be a formidable weapon in the passing game and showed spurts of running more decisively. The offensive line kept Andrew Luck clean and we can only wonder if this type of play from all of the above can continue, as it will need to if the Colts are to be competitive come playoff time.
The defense is in the same boat. They have looked stellar at times, shutting down big plays and proving they have the potential to be as dominant as they want to be. They are also guilty of taking games off. With 2 former pro-bowlers in the secondary, they have no excuse to be getting shredded by career back-ups, but that is exactly what they have done at times this season. So how will this up-and-down Colts team change all that? Can they change it? They better, or we’ll be one and done in the playoffs again this year, regardless of what matchup they receive in the Wild Card round. This is exactly what makes Sunday such a pivotal game for this team, as they will need to catch fire to gain confidence and momentum with the “second season” right around the corner.
What our defense can expect:
The Texans’ offense has been about as predictable as our own in the past few weeks. Houston is coming in losing twice to the Jaguars in three weeks, where in the first matchup they didn’t score a touchdown at all, and could merely muster two field goals. In the second game they put it in the endzone twice but also threw two interceptions. You sandwich those around a game in which the Texans took New England to the wire and put the ball in the endzone in all four quarters, and you really can only assume that their offense will indeed be on the field. If the past few weeks and the last clash between these two are any indication, we know that they will target Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins as much as possible through the air and will try to get Ben Tate going early on the ground.
The real question to be asked is this: Can our defense stop them this go ’round? Case Keenum has been right around 50% completion in the last several weeks; and has only one touchdown in the last 14 quarters he’s played in. It’s fair to say that the Colts’ rushing defense should be getting a lot of focus this week from the coaches. They simply must stop the ground game to be succesful this Sunday, and limit the big plays through the air. The Texans getting chunk yardage again in this one may leave the Colts unable to make enough plays to stop their playmakers from taking over this game. That being said, I do look for our defense to have success stopping the Texans’ offense this time. As poorly as our secondary has played this season, and given the end of season push that is so greatly needed, I think we will see them come out more focused than they have in quite some time and take control of the Texans’ offense.
Does the offense build off of last week?
I think they absolutely do! Regardless of all the injuries to key positions and players, this offense is still very talented. I think that Pep has finally realized that this offense is far more successful with Luck throwing early in the game and on 1st and 2nd downs of possessions. However, I believe the gameplan rides on whether or not Brazill plays, as he has sat out of practice the entire week. The good news is that both he and Pep expect him to play. If he can’t go, look for Whalen to be in his place and for the offense to somewhat dial it back from last week’s aerial attack. With some possible line adjustments due to Satele being out, they will need to play as a unit like they did last week to keep J.J. Watt and the Texans linebackers off of Luck to allow him to make plays.
Luck will also have to do his part in getting himself into a rhythm. If the Colts are going to move the ball effectively, Luck will need to get them into manageable 3rd down plays, as they have been just awful converting them in the past several weeks. I look for the offense to have a big day, actually. I cringe as I say that; but knowing the Colts understand that they have big business to take care of in these next few weeks, I think they will put a full game together on all fronts and give us a lot to hope for finishing up this season.
Key Team Matchups:
Colts Pass Off: 231ypg(18), 19td’s(T-17), 9int’s(T-7) VS Texans pass Def: 183ypga(2), 23tda(T-11), 5int’s(32)
Texans Rush Off: 114ypg(17), 4.4 ypc(T-7) VS Colts Rush Def: 130.6ypga(29), 4.4ypca(T-24)
Key Personnel Matchups:
Coby Fleener VS HOU Linebackers
J.J. Watt VS IND O-Line
HOU Recievers VS IND DB’s
IND Recievers VS HOU DB’s
Pep Hamilton VS Wade Phillips
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Matt Danely @The_Blue_Shoe