Peyton Manning and the 10-0 Colts come to Houston for a Week 12 showdown with the Texans
The Texans (5-5) host Indianapolis for a Week 12 rumble with the undefeated Colts (10-0). Kickoff is 12 p.m. CT at Reliant Stadium.
In Week 11, the Colts went on the road to Baltimore and beat the Ravens, 17-15, picking off a Joe Flacco fourth quarter pass in the red zone to seal the victory. Indianapolis outlasted the Texans in Week 9, triumphing 20-17.
Rookie head coach Jim Caldwell has been with the Colts since 2002, when he was hired as the club's quarterbacks coach. In 2005, he was named assistant head coach and was promoted to associate head coach with the club prior to the 2008 season.
The Colts' offense has been prolific enough during Caldwell's tenure to allow the club to earn an NFL-best seven consecutive playoff appearances. Caldwell joined the Colts after serving as quarterbacks coach with Tampa Bay in 2001. He has more than 20 years of collegiate coaching experience. He spent 1993-2000 as head coach at Wake Forest.
OFFENSE Quarterback: Against Baltimore, perennial All-Pro Peyton Manning completed 22-of 31 pass attempts for 299 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. So far in 2009, he's tossed 21 touchdown passes and nine interceptions. He's completed 69.9 percent of his passes for 3,171 yards, but has thrown five interceptions in the last three contests.
The future Hall of Famer is in year number 12 of NFL play, and during his sterling career, Manning guided the 2006 Colts to a Super Bowl title. Last season, he started 16 games for 11th consecutive season and earned his ninth career Pro Bowl selection. Manning has completed more passes and thrown for more yards and touchdowns in a career-opening 11-year span than any NFL player.
He also ranks fourth in NFL career touchdown passes and holds Colts records in completions, attempts, yards and touchdowns. In 2008, he earned his third career Associated Press Most Valuable Player honor, joining Brett Favre (1995-97) as the only players in NFL history to win the award three times.
Running back: Joseph Addai was limited to 3.9 yards a carry against the Ravens defense, carrying the ball 19 times for 74 yards and scoring a touchdown.
So far this season, Addai has averaged 3.5 yards a carry, running 145 times for 514 yards. He's rushed for seven touchdowns and also caught three more. Addai is an integral part of the passing attack for the Colts, as he's caught 37 passes for 243 yards.
The 2007 Pro Bowler had a tough 2008, carrying the ball 155 times for just 544 yards and scoring five times. He started 12 games and caught 25 passes for 206 yards and a pair of scores. Addai cracked the 1,000-yard rushing mark in both 2006 and 2007.
At fullback/H-back, Gijon Robinson is primarily a blocker. He hasn't recorded any carries in 2009 but has six catches for 48 yards. He missed the Ravens game because of a concussion. His best performance came in a Week 7 victory over St. Louis, when he finished with three receptions for 38 yards.
Wide receiver: Every year since 2004, Reggie Wayne has finished with more than 1,000 yards receiving. He's on pace to pass that mark again in 2009, with 968 yards through ten contests. Wayne has caught 76 passes, eight of which have been touchdowns, and finished with seven receptions for 89 yards at Baltimore.
Anthony Gonzalez has missed every game since Week 2 with a knee injury, and his absence has meant more playing time for some younger members of the Colts receiving corps.
Second-year receiver Pierre Garcon has been explosive in 2009, and led the way against the Ravens with six receptions for 108 yards. He's averaging 16 yards a catch and has caught a pass for 26-plus yards in seven of ten games. Garcon has three touchdown receptions to go with his 32 total catches for 511 yards. Garcon played sparingly in 2008, catching just four passes for 23 yards.
Austin Collie caught just one ball for 12 yards against the Ravens. On the year, he has 39 receptions for 413 yards and four scores. The rookie from BYU recorded his best game of the season when he snared eight passes for 97 yards a pair of touchdowns in the Week 5 victory at Tennessee.
Tight end: Dallas Clark was limited to one touchdown catch for three yards against Baltimore, but on the whole 2009, he has been productive. Clark has 771 receiving yards on 65 receptions and has found the end zone four times. Clark turned in a career year in 2008, as he eclipsed the 800-yard receiving mark, finishing with 848 yards on 77 receptions, and scored six times.
Second-year tight end Tom Santi had the finest week of his young career against the Ravens, catching six passes for 80 yards in his only action of the season.
Offensive line: The Colts' offensive front is one of the main reasons Manning and company are still undefeated through ten games. In pass protection, they've allowed Manning to get sacked just eight times, and three of those came against the 49ers. The veteran crew has struggled to break things open in the ground game, however, as the Colts are averaging 3.8 yards a carry.
Eleven-year veteran Jeff Saturday, a former Pro Bowler, starts at center and is the longest-tenured starter up front for Indianapolis. Right tackle Ryan Diem has been a steady presence for the last nine seasons. Charlie Johnson has started at left tackle after a 2008 that saw him start four games in that spot and 12 others at left tackle.
DEFENSE Defensive line: The headliner up front for Indianapolis is the incomparable Dwight Freeney. The All-Pro defensive end is off to a fast start through the season's first ten games, as he's already tallied 9.5 sacks. The picture of consistency, Freeney has recorded a sack in every game this season but the last two, as he's been hobbled by a hip injury.
In 2008, he sacked the quarterback 10.5 times, the fifth 10-plus sack season of his career.
Freeney's backup is the versatile Keyunta Dawson, who has 15 tackles in the season's first ten games. The former Texas Tech standout started 12 games at left defensive tackle last year and finished with 42 tackles.
Robert Mathis, the left defensive end, also is off to an impressive start. With 8.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and 34 tackles, Mathis has proven to be a disruptive force for the Colts' defense.
Mathis and Freeney have been one of the most productive defensive end duos in the NFL, as Mathis finished with 11.5 sacks last season, which was the third year in his seven-season career to crack the 10-plus sack mark.
Left defensive end backup Raheem Brock has chipped in with 15 tackles and 1.5 sacks this year, and he's coming off a 2008 that saw him record three-and-a-half sacks and force a pair of fumbles.
On the inside, starting left defensive tackle Antonio Johnson is coming off a four tackle performance against Baltimore. He has 22 total tackles on the year. In eight regular season contests last year, Johnson finished with 31 total tackles.
The starter at right defensive tackle is Daniel Muir, who has 27 total stops in 2009. His most productive game came in the Week 7 win at St. Louis when he tallied 0.5 sacks and seven total tackles.
Linebacker: Starting left linebacker Phillip Wheeler has 24 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble after taking over for the injured Tyjuan Hagler. He logged four total stops against the Ravens.
In the middle, starter Gary Brackett is a seven-year vet who has eclipsed the 100-tackle mark in each of the four previous seasons. Brackett had nine stops and an interception against the Ravens.
The starter at right linebacker is Clint Session. The third-year pro from Pittsgburgh has accumulated a team-best 72 total stops in 2009 after a 2008 in which he finished with 99 total tackles and two forced fumbles.
Secondary: Strong safety Bob Sanders is done for the year because of an injury and had just three tackles in 2009. He was only able to start six games in 2008 but still intercepted a pass and finished with 48 total stops. His finest season was in 2007, when he became the first Colts player in franchise history to win the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award.
In his place, the Colts have relied upon former Texas A&M Aggie Melvin Bullitt, and he's responded with 47 tackles and an interception. He logged four stops against the Ravens.
Free safety Antoine Bethea has 68 total tackles this season, and he registered four stops against the 49ers. The 2007 Pro Bowler finished 2008 with 126 total tackles.
At right cornerback, rookie Jerraud Powers has 50 stops. He finished with eight total tackles in Week 3 at Arizona and has teamed up with left corner Kelvin Hayden on the edges for the Colts.
Special teams: Kicker Matt Stover has filled in nicely for Adam Vinatieri, connecting on all seven of his field goal attempts. He's a perfect 15-for-15 on point after tries and his season long was a 40-yarder versus San Francisco. Vinatieri is expected to return from his knee injury in December.
Rookie Pat McAfee is averaging better than 44 yards a punt, and 13 of his 39 punts have been inside the 20.
Chad Simpson is the primary kickoff returner, and he's averaging 22 yards per return with a long of 39 yards. T.J. Rushing has taken back 12 punts for 67 yards and has broken loose for a 22 yarder this season.