Rise and Shine: Star Gazing Monday Edition

The best players usually rise to the occasion for the biggest games. Tonight shouldn't be any different. Here are predictions for the players that will shine the brightest under the national spotlight. 

Indianapolis


Offense:

Peyton Manning - No real surprise here. Peyton Manning saves his best for night games and will do it again. With the injuries mounting, the Colts are counting on him more than ever. Expect another huge game from number 18. 

Pierre Garcon. - Reggie Wayne must love playing against the Texans. But with Austin Collie and Dallas Clark both out, expect the Texans to key on Wayne and limit his productivity. Instead Peyton will target the speedy Garcon. He might not make another circus highlight reel catch like last week against the Redskins, but expect at least a half dozen plus catches and 1 TD. 

Sleeper.
Mike Hart - Downhill Donald Brown will get the start, but lookout for Mike Hart, who will finish with a touchdown and more yards than his backfield mate. 

Defense:

Dwight Freney - Again, did you really expect anyone else? Held without a sack in his last 4 games, Freeney will be chomping at the bit to get one tonight. If the Colts' offense can force the Texans into throwing more, expect for the dry spell to be end in a big way.

Gary Bracket - The rookie Pat Angerer filled in quite admirably in Bracket's absence but the captain's return will give the defense a big boost.  A pick in Texans territory will spark an offensive score.

Sleeper.
Eric Foster - The other Foster might steal the attention and have another good game running the ball, but Eric Foster will make one or two high-energy momentum-swinging tackles that really gets the defense, and crowd, going.

Houston

Offense:

Vonta Leach - Its strange to lead off with a fullback as a possible star of the game, but that is how much of a difference maker Vonta Leach can be. His effort won't show up in the stat sheet, but Wheeler, Bracket and Session will certainly feel his impact, as will Arian Foster who will be grateful to have such a strong lead blocker.

Matt Schaub - Not quite in the upper echelon of elite quarterbacks just yet, nevertheless Schaub is still one of the better Qb's in the league. The Redskins will second that after giving up 497 yards to Schaub back in week 2. While he won't match those numbers, expect Schaub to throw at least a couple touchdowns as the Colts force the Texans to throw more to keep pace.

Sleeper. 
Owen Daniels - Coming off season highs in catches and yards, Owen Daniels is finally mostly healthy again, which could spell bad news for the Colts down inside their own red zone. One of the Schaub touchdown passes could be coming his way.

Defense:

Amobi Okoye - A big quick powerful tackle, Okoye will bust up at least a few runs in the backfield. He might not make the tackle but disrupting the play enough for his teammates to finish the play is often just as good. Anticipate a few quarterback hurries just as well.

Mario Williams - Mario Williams has one sack on Peyton already this season and you know he will be coming after him again all game long. He would like nothing more than to show up fellow AFC pro-bowl teammate Dwight Freeney.

Sleeper.

No one. The Texans just don't have enough playmakers on defense. You could argue for Brian Cushing in his new role as captain of the defense at Middle Linebacker, but he is too good of a player to be a sleeper. Plus even though he has had two weeks to prepare, switching positions for the first time against Peyton Manning is not an easy task. Other than Cushing, there really isn't a player that stands out. It is more likely that it's going to be a long night for the unit than somebody steps up and comes to the rescue.  

Whether it's a shootout or a blowout the stars of the Colts will shine brighter tonight at home.     

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