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Know Your Foe: Indianapolis Colts

The overall record certainly doesn't tell the whole story, but the Texans-Colts, as Texans head coach Bill O'Brien noted this week, is certainly a rivalry in the AFC South. Think of it this way, since 2009, either the Colts or Texans have won the AFC South.

2009 - Colts (Colts 2-0)
2010 - Colts (1-1)
2011 - Texans (1-1)
2012 - Texans (1-1)
2013 - Colts (Colts 0-2)
2014 - Colts (Colts 0-2)
2015 - Texans (1-1)
2016 - Texans (Texans 2-0)

This year, though, things are tough in Indianapolis without the Franchise leading the way - Andrew Luck. The former Stratford High School star underwent surgery on his right throwing shoulder in the offseason and has not seen the field as a result. He started practicing on a limited basis four or five weeks ago, but he suffered a setback along the way and has not been back to practice or throwing since. Just today, the Colts placed Luck on injured reserve, ending his 2017 season.

Enter Jacoby Brissett. The Texans know all about the former New England Patriot quarterback, traded to Indianapolis early this season. Brissett was at the helm last year on a Thursday night in a 27-0 dominating win over the Texans. Ultimately, it's been a bumpy ride for Brissett, especially the past two weeks. He was sacked ten times by Jacksonville in a brutal 27-0 loss to Jacksonville two weeks ago, while in a loss to the Bengals last week, he threw a backbreaking pick six that cost the Colts a win in Cincinnati.

It's been a tough year to say the least, but a win over the Texans on the road could change everything for Indianapolis. It'll be jacked up to get the two-time AFC South champs and ruin their season in the process. So, let's get to know this year's version of the Indianapolis Colts.

TEAM 2-6 (0-2 v. AFC South in 2017)
L, 46-9 Los Angeles Rams
L, 16-13 Arizona Cardinals
W, 31-28 Cleveland Browns
L, 46-18 Seattle Seahawks
W, 26-23 San Francisco 49ers
L, 36-22 Tennessee Titans
L, 27-0 Jacksonville Jaguars
L, 24-23 Cincinnati Bengals

2017 Team Profile (8 games)
Rush offense - 99.5 ypg (19th in the league)
Passing offense - 196.8 ypg (27th)
Total offense - 296.2 ypg (28th)
Scoring - 17.8 ppg (25th)
3rd Down Percentage conversion - 39.1% (13th)
Giveaways - 10 - 6 INT and 4 Fumbles (T16th in most giveaways in NFL)

This is the Colts projected starting lineup for Sunday against the Texans:
WR - T.Y. Hilton
LT - Anthony Castonzo
LG - Jeremy Vujnovich
C - Ryan Kelly
RG - LeRaven Clark
RT - Joe Haeg
TE - Jack Doyle
QB - Jacoby Brissett
WR - Brandon Williams
RB - Frank Gore

Key Offensive non-starters
RB - Marlon Mack
WR - Donte Moncrief

What's the biggest concern for the TEXANS defense facing the INDIANAPOLIS offense?
Let's start with the Ghost. Without Andrew Luck in tow, T.Y. Hilton has not been near as productive, but he still averages over 18 yards per catch. With Jacoby Brissett being a downfield thrower, Hilton doesn't need seven or eight catches to make a significant impact on this, or any, game, if left all alone behind the defense.

Then, there's Brissett. He didn't light the world on fire last year against the Texans, doing just enough in the passing game to move the sticks consistently. However, he destroyed them on the ground with 48 yards on eight carries and one 27-yard touchdown. He's a lot like Blake Bortles, size/build and asset/liability-wise, so nothing is out of the realm of possibility with Brissett, running or throwing.

The Texans have yielded some big days to opposing quarterbacks in three losses to New England, Kansas City and Seattle. Now, Brissett gets his shot at the Texans defense/secondary.

What's the biggest concern for the COLTS offense facing the HOUSTON defense?
Jadeveon Clowney. Point blank, end of story.

Offensive X-Factor
Tight End Jack Doyle - Maybe he's too good at this point to be an X-Factor, but the focus will be squarely on Hilton on the perimeter. Doyle is the team's leading receiver and is a difficult matchup for anyone in a Texans' uniform.

2017 Team Profile (8 games)
Rush defense - 116.4 ypg (19th in the league)
Passing defense - 290.4 ypg (31st)
Total defense - 406.8 ypg (31st)
Scoring Allowed - 30.8 ppg (32nd)
3rd Down Percentage conversion allowed - 44.0% (27th best)
Takeaways - 12 - 7 INT, 5 Recoveries (T10th most takeaways in NFL)

This is the Colts projected starting lineup for Sunday against the Texans:
DE - Henry Anderson
NT - Al Woods
DT - Johnathan Hankins
OLB - Barkevious Mingo
ILB - Antonio Morrison
ILB - Jon Bostic
OLB - Jabaal Sheard
CB - Pierre Desir/Quincy Wilson/Rashaan Melvin
S - Matthias Farley
S - T.J. Green
CB - Vontae Davis

Key Defensive non-starters
DT/DE - Hassan Ridgeway
DE - Margus Hunt

What's the biggest concern for the TEXANS offense facing this INDIANAPOLIS defense?
The Colts front is much better than the numbers suggest. Henry Anderson, Johnathan Hankins and Jabaal Sheard can be ultra-disruptive. Sheard, in particular, was a thorn in the side of the Texans when he was a member of the Patriots (similar to Brissett). The offensive line has its hands full with that trio.

Defensive X-Factor
Defensive lineman Johnathan Hankins - his size and power can create issues in the middle of the defense for the Texans running game.

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