For the first time in franchise history, the Texans will play a team for a third time in a single season. The Indianapolis Colts come to Houston less than a month after ending the Texans nine-game winning streak. That win for the Colts was one of the nine they had in the last 10 weeks of the year. After losing 6-0 to Jacksonville in Duval County, the Colts went to work, disposing of the Texans, Cowboys and Giants before winning a "winner takes the wild card" game in Nashville against the Titans.
Having won nine out of 10, the Colts come to NRG Stadium with loads of confidence and the belief that they're playing with house money. Not many expected them to be in this position when they started the year and even fewer expected it when they started 1-5. But, they found their groove and didn't stop winning. The lone blemish was that shutout loss to Jacksonville. If there's anything to take from that Jacksonville game it's that the Jaguars found a way to limit the great T.Y. Hilton. Sure, he had eight catches, but they came on 13 targets and for only 77 yards and no touchdowns. He'll get his targets and make his catches, but they just can't be for big yardage. Over his seven year career, he's had plays of…
2018 - 60, 34, 29 and 28 yards
2017 - 80, 45 and 30 yards
2016 - 31 yards
2015 - 43 yards
2014 - 49, 40, 37 and 33 yards
2013 - 58 yards
2012 - 61 yards
...in THIS building. That's 15 plays of 28 yards or more against the Texans in Houston. It's why he said after the game that this was his "second home". He said he loves playing here, so let's see what the Texans can do to make his trip "home" an ugly one.
Without further ado, let's get to know Sunday's foe - the 2018 Indianapolis Colts, again.
Schedule - Record (10-6)
L, 34-23 v. Cincinnati Bengals
W, 21-9 @ Washington Redskins
L, 20-16 @ Philadelphia Eagles
L, 37-34 v. Houston Texans
L, 38-24 @ New England Patriots
L, 42-34 @ New York Jets
W, 37-5 v. Buffalo Bills
W, 42-28 @ Oakland Raiders
W, 29-26 v. Jacksonville Jaguars
W, 38-10 v. Tennessee Titans
W, 27-24 v. Miami Dolphins
L, 6-0 @ Jacksonville Jaguars
W, 24-21 @ Houston Texans
W, 23-0 v. Dallas Cowboys
W, 28-27 v. New York Giants
W, 33-17 @ Tennessee Titans
Rushing yards per game - 107.4 ypg (20th in the NFL)
Passing yards Per game - 278.8 ypg (6th)
Total offense per game - 386.2 ypg (7th)
Turnovers lost - 19 (15 INT, 9 fumbles lost) - Colts are +2 (T-13th in the NFL)
Colts Starting Offense Last Sunday vs. Tennessee:
QB - Andrew Luck
RB - Marlon Mack
WR - T.Y. Hilton
WR - ZACH PASCAL
WR - Chester Rogers
LT - Anthony Castonzo
LG - QUENTON NELSON (rookie)
C - EVAN BOEHM (starting C Ryan Kelly missed the game)
RG - Mark Glowinski
RT - BRADEN SMITH (rookie)
TE - ERIC EBRON
Other Key Offensive Pieces:
RB - JORDAN WILKINS (rookie)
RB - NYHEIM HINES (rookie)
WR - DONTRELLE INMAN
**All caps indicates a 2018 addition
Keys to Stopping the Colts Offense:
1. T.Y. MUST STAY IN FRONT! Same as it was in 2012, 2013, 2014... You get the point. Keep in mind, the only year since 2013 that the Texans beat the Colts here at NRG Stadium was 2016 when Hilton had his worst game in Houston (3 receptions for 49 yards). It's no coincidence that the Texans won that night.
2. Give Andrew Luck different pictures as much as possible. Change fronts, change rushers, disguise coverages. That won't just impact Luck, but the offensive line, backs and receivers will have to adjust as well. Keep in mind that there are still two rookies starting on the OL. Furthermore, Hines and Wilkins are rookies at running back too.
3. Eliminate ANY running game with sure tackling on Marlon Mack. He just had one of his best games of the season at Tennessee (119 yards on 25 carries and a touchdown) and can keep drives alive with his hard charging style.
4. The safeties/nickels will need some help on Eric Ebron, but they also have to be concerned with helping on T.Y. Hilton too. That's a tough combination to stop, but the Texans must find a way to limit the big plays those two Pro Bowlers can create.
5. Follow No. 56 to the ball. Rookie guard Quenton Nelson pulls in front of runs to the right side or they'll run right behind him on the left side.
6. TACKLE. WRAP UP... on Luck, in particular. The Texans got hands on him a number of times in the last meeting but couldn't get him to the ground. Then, he created big plays. Bring him down. Easier said than done, but that's one sure way to slow this offense down.
7. Get off the field on third down. The Colts have been just a shade under 50 percent third down conversion rate against the Texans this year. The Eagles converted 13 of 16 third/fourth downs. The Jets converted over 50 percent of their third down conversions. It's time to get off the field on third down.
Rushing yards allowed per game - 101.6 ypg (8th in the NFL)
Passing yards allowed per game - 237.8 ypg (16th)
Total offense allowed per game - 339.4 ypg (11th)
Turnovers generated - 26 (15 INT, 11 Fumbles recovered)
Colts Starting Defense Last Sunday vs. Tennessee:
DE - TYQUAN LEWIS (rookie)
NT - Margus Hunt
DT - DENICO AUTRY
DE - Jabaal Sheard
WLB - DARIUS LEONARD (rookie)
MLB - Anthony Walker
CB - Pierre Desir
Nickel - Kenny Moore
S - Malik Hooker
S - Clayton Geathers
CB - Quincy Wilson
Other Key Defensive Pieces:
LB - STEVEN ADAMS (rookie)
DE - KEMOKO TURAY (rookie)
DT - Hassan Ridgeway
DT - Grover Stewart
**All caps indicates a 2018 addition
Keys to Winning vs. the Colts Defense:
1. Find a way to control Denico Autry and Margus Hunt. Those two jump into the A gaps together and penetrate straight up field. They're relentless to the ball so they're difficult to block all the way to the whistle and that's a problem.
2. Know where Malik Hooker is lurking in the middle of the field at all times.
3. Must get a hat on Darius Leonard, like every single play. He must not be given free rein to run to the football unabated.
4. Please block Jabaal Sheard and do not let him wreck the game (he has done that in NRG Stadium a few times before, whether with the Patriots or Colts). It might have to be a team effort with tight ends and backs and such, but slowing him down is paramount to having adequate time to throw the rock.
5. Establish the line of scrimmage early and keep pounding them at the point of attack. The last time these two met, the Texans generated NO running game. Now, the Titans did pick up 5.8 yards per carry last week but had to abandon the run relatively early because they fell behind. Get a lead, then pound on this line to soften them up and keep Luck on the sideline.
6. Take the profit, not the hits. Three or four yard checkdowns are just fine against the Colts against their zone coverage. Take it, all day long. Get in manageable third down situations and keep moving the chain.
Check out the best Week 17 images from Texans team photographer Zach Tarrant. Presented by Houston Methodist.