COLTS (2-6) VS. TEXANS (3-4)
SUNDAY, 1 P.M. ET, NRG STADIUM, HOUSTON TV: CBS, DIRECTV 706
Announcers: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Jamie Erdahl
About the Colts: With victory in their sights, the Colts found another way to lose and continue their miserable 2017 season when QB Jacoby Brissett threw a late pick-six to cough up a 24-23 loss in Cincinnati. Brissett had played one of his best games of the season, throwing two touchdown passes and keeping Indy ahead for much of the game until his costly interception. The loss was just another kick to the gut for the Colts following more bad news of Andrew Luck’s sluggish return from shoulder surgery and lingering soreness preventing his comeback anytime soon. In brighter news, Adam Vinatieri could move into second place on the NFL’s al-time scoring list. He’s tied with Gary Anderson at 2,434 points, trailing only Morten Andersen’s 2,544 points. The Colts take their three-game skid to Houston, where they have won in three of their last four trips. About the Texans: After their 41-38 shootout loss in Seattle, Texans fans made their loudest clamor for coach Bill O’Brien’s immediate firing following several questionable decisions that led to the loss. It was a hectic week for O’Brien and the Texans after owner Bob McNair’s comments nearly led to a player walkout. Against Seattle, rookie QB Deshaun Watson threw for 402 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions, rushing for 67 yards while being sacked five times. WR DeAndre Hopkins had eight catches for 224 yards and a touchdown, and Will Fuller V added 125 yards and two touchdowns on five catches. The Texans will try to pick up the pieces and move on.
Matchup to watch: Colts WR T.Y. Hil
ton vs. Texans CB Kareem Jackson. Hilton definitely has missed having Luck pelting him with targets, but regardless of the quarterback, he always has been monstrous against the Texans. In 10 career games, Hilton has averaged 5.5 catches for 94.2 yards and has seven career touchdowns. He has topped 100 yards in four of those games, including one 223-yard doozy in 2014. Player to watch: Colts TE Jack Doyle. The massive tight end broke through for 12 catches and 121 yards in Week 8, including a 13-yard touchdown. Considering Seattle TE Jimmy Graham had two touchdown receptions against Houston, including the go-ahead touchdown with 21 seconds left, don’t be surprised if Doyle has another big game.
Number crunching: 500. The Texans had 509 yards against Seattle in Week 8 and still lost. Entering the game, the Texans were 5-0 all-time when amassing more than 500 yards.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Ground control: Houston’s rush defense absolutely limited Seattle to 33 rushing yards on 21 attempts, the Seahawks’ lowest rushing output at home since 2010.
2. Clowney on the prowl: Texans DE Jadeveon Clowney was menacing in Seattle, frequently chasing QB Russell Wilson and getting four tackles, two tackles for loss and one sack. With J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus out, the Colts must stop Clowney.
3. Late interceptions: Both Brissett and Watson threw costly interceptions late in their Week 8 losses that eventually led to their defeat. Brissett’s came on a pass tipped by a defensive lineman, while Watson’s came deep in the secondary. Fourth-quarter ball control in the passing game is huge. 4. Red-zone opportunities: The Colts are 3-for-13 in red-zone trips over the last four games, a major factor in their three-game losing streak. They were 7-for-10 in red-zone trips in its first four games.
Colts’ T.Y. Hilton