Sitting at 1-2, the Colts have a chance to reach .500 for the first time in quite a while. Standing in their way is the 0-3 Houston Texans, a team in complete panic mode. Many projected Houston to make the playoffs or even win the division but they’ve faltered early. DeShaun Watson doesn’t look like the superstar we saw last season, the offensive line is a trainwreck, and the secondary can’t cover anyone. The Texans, though, are very talented and are going to be hungry. The Colts need to lock in if they want to secure their first home win of the season.
OT Anthony Castonzo (Hamstring)
TE Jack Doyle (Hip)
T/G Joe Haeg (Ankle)
DT Hassan Ridgeway (Calf)
CB Quincy Wilson (Concussion)
S Clayton Geathers (Knee)
RB Marlon Mack (Foot/Hamstring)
LB Anthony Walker (Groin)
DT/DE Denico Autry (Ankle)
DE Tarell Basham (Not Injury Related)
TE Eric Ebron (Shoulder/Knee)
S Malik Hooker (Hip Groin)
QB Andrew Luck (Groin)
DT Al Woods (Quadricep)
WR DeAndre Hopkins (Thumb/Ankle/Hamstring)
CB Kayvon Webster (Not Injury Related)
CB Shareece Wright (Shoulder)
WR Sammie Coates Jr. (Hamstring)
WR Keke Coutee (Hamstring)
WR Will Fuller V (Hamstring)
G Senio Kelemete (Knee)
T Martinas Rankin (Knee)
DE J.J. Watt (Thigh)
Colts’ Defensive Line vs Texans’ Offensive Line
One of the main factors that have held the Texans down is their offensive line. They’ve allowed ten sacks and rank last in pressure rate 41.1%. DeShaun Watson has had no help from his protectors and his play has suffered for it. Conversely, the Colts’ defensive front has surprisingly been one of the best in football over the first three weeks of the NFL season.
The trio of Al Woods, Margus Hunt, and Jabaal Sheard has been a major factor in the Colts only allowing three touchdowns in their last eight quarters of play. Woods has been one of the best nose tackles in football, Jabaal Sheard has been a consistent presence and Hunt has simply been a revelation. Over their last two games, the Colts have faced two of the best lines in the NFL in Philadelphia and Washington. Facing one of the worst units in the NFL this year, the Colts’ defensive line could single-handedly control this game.
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Denzelle Good vs J.J. Watt
The Colts’ offensive line has simply not been able to avoid the injury bug in 2018. To their credit, they’ve surpassed expectations this season, only allowing five sacks in three games. However, when both of your starting tackles are out, containing pressure will be an immense struggle. Denzelle Good and Le’Raven Clark have played well this season but have a monumental task on Sunday.
After an injury-riddled 2017, it is safe to say that J.J. Watt is back. The freakish defensive lineman dominated the Giants for three sacks last week. He is one of the greatest defensive linemen of all time and has the potential to wreck any game by himself. Denzelle Good at least containing Watt is imperative for an Indianapolis victory.
Malik Hooker vs DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller
No matter how much they struggle on offense, the Houston Texans will always have the deep ball. At any moment, DeShaun Watson can uncork a demoralizing long ball, putting them in position to win. Watson has a cannon arm and two of the best vertical receivers in the NFL in DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller. Fuller has been electric this season, eclipsing 100 yards in both of his games, averaging 16.5 yards per catch. Hopkins has 274 on the season and is averaging 13.7 yards per catch.
The Colts have been solid at limiting the deep pass this season and the cardinal reason for that is the play of Malik Hooker. Hooker is a true center fielder, using his elite speed, range, and ball skills to limit opposing passing games. He will need to be on top of his game to hold Fuller and Hopkins in check.
Spotlight Player of the Week: Andrew Luck
Week 3 presented more questions than answers for Andrew Luck. The Colts elected to have Jacoby Brissett throw the hail mary as opposed to Luck. His play against the Eagles was unspectacular but it was in the rain and against an elite defense. Many fans have reacted harshly to this and fear Luck’s arm will never be the same. On the other hand, the Colts could have put Brissett because he has an absolute howitzer. Facing a weak Houston secondary, he’ll have a chance to answer to the skeptics.
The Houston Texans are an incredibly talented roster and will be playing in desperation mode. Still, the Colts are the better team and will pick up their first home win in the Frank Reich era.
Ben Pfeifer is the Managing Editor of the Colts for Full Press Coverage, the AFC South Division Editor, and head NBA editor. Want to continue the discussion? Contact Ben Pfeifer on Twitter @Ben_Pfeifer_, @FPC_NBA and @FPC_Colts.