For their final game of the 2017 NFL season, the rival Houston Texans come to town. Besides the Colts, the Texans may be one of the most injury plagued teams in the NFL. Last week, the Texans had to play Taylor Heinicke, who was apparently only slightly better than a certain music icon in high school. The Colts are locked into the third pick, and can only rise with a loss and a Giant win. So once again, the boys in blue are playing for nothing more than pride. Last week, they showed heart, and fought against a Ravens team vying for a playoff bid. Chuck Pagano is 5-0 in season finales (go figure); this should be a good one.
(Colts have not released any official injury statuses as of now)
Denzelle Good, T – Knee
Johnathan Hankins, DT – Ankle
Jason Vander Laan, TE – Concussion
Donte Moncrief, WR – Ankle
DeAndre Hopkins, WR – Calf
Kareem Jackson, CB – Foot
Jadeveon Clowney, DE – Knee
Xavier Su’a-Filo, G – Groin
Joel Heath, DE – Knee
Latroy Lewis, LB – Shoulder
Kendall Lamm, T – Concussion
Jeff Allen, G – Concussion
Kevin Johnson, CB – Knee
Jordan Todman, RB – Shoulder
Key Matchups To Watch
Texans’ Quarterback vs The Colts’ Secondary
Wether it be T.J. Yates, Taylor Heinicke, or some random guy they pick up off of the street, the Texans’ starting quarterback needs to perform for Houston to win. Last week, with Yates and Heinicke at the helm, the Steelers battered the Texans, 34-6. Heinicke threw only one pass for 10 yards, and Yates threw for 83 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. The Texans amassed a measly 227 yards, which won’t win you many NFL games. The Steelers rank fourth in the NFL in total yards by opponents; it gets easier against the Colts defense, which ranks 30th in that category, giving up 377.6 yards per game.
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Last week, Joe Flacco threw all over the Colts’ defense. To make matters worse, the Colts’ top corner, Rashaan Melvin, was placed on IR. On the bright side, star wide out DeAndre Hopkins is also out. The Colts will rely on the likes of Pierre Desir, Quincy Wilson, and Nate Hairston to defend Will Fuller, Braxton Miller, and Chris Thompson. Whoever wins this battle most likely will win the game.
Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue vs The Colts’ Front Seven
Despite the domination that the Texans faced last week, the run game, led by Alfred Blue and Lamar Miller, had a very solid outing. Blue touted the rock 16 times for 108 yards, and Miller ran 10 times for 55. Considering that the Steelers rank 10th in rush defense, giving up 106.1 YPG, and the state of the Texans’ offensive line, last week was an impressive feat.
The Colts’ run defense, although improved, is still towards the bottom of the NFL, and injuries certainly have not helped. The Colts rank 27th in the NFL in opponent rushing yards per game, with 122.8. Two weeks ago, C.J. Anderson ran all over the Colts’ defense, but last week, the Colts held Alex Collins and Javorius Allen to 88 total yards. Holding Lamar Miller and Blue in check will be a major key to a Colt victory.
Anthony Castonzo vs Jadeveon Clowney
Anthony Castonzo has been a lone bright spot on the Colts’ offensive line this season, which otherwise has been awful. He is the 13th ranked tackle in the NFL per PFF, with an above average 81.8 season grade. Over the season, Castonzo has a 95.2 pass blocking efficiency. which ranks 24th among his position.
The former number one pick, Clowney has been good this season for Houston. This year, Clowney has 92 tackles, nine sacks, two passes deflected, and 61 total pressures. Jacoby Brissett is the most sacked quarterback in the NFL this season by long mark, and will have to rely on Castonzo and Co. if he wants to stay off of his back all day.
Colts vs Texans Prediction
The Colts hold whoever starts at quarterback in check, Jacoby Brissett has a great day, and Chuck Pagano moves to 6-0 in season finales to spite the Colts’ number two pick dreams.
Ben Pfeifer is the Managing Editor of the Colts for Full Press Coverage, and the AFC South Division Editor. Want to continue the discussion? Contact Ben Pfeifer on Twitter @Ben_Pfeifer_ and @FPC_Colts.