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Week Nine: Texans at Colts Preview

The 5-3 Houston Texans are off to their best start in franchise history, and while it has been nice to see the team many of us here always thought would eventually get good, I can't say I'm surprised that more than a few Texans fans have reacted to their team's early success by acting like a bunch of drunken frat boys.

Personally, I'm glad I give some Texans fans someone to hate, make fun of, toss verbal insults to, whatever. And I admit, I enjoy the attention. I really do. But, I learned long ago that when a band of mindless "fans" get an idea into their head that their team is magnificent and your team sucks, you aren't going to be able to change their minds with reason. You can't make logical arguments to sharks when someone throws chum in the water. You can't reason with zombies when someone throws a screaming cheerleader into a stadium full of them. And, you can't convince a group of silly Texans fans that this Sunday's game is not a good match-up for their team when they have finally been given a taste of "the nuts of competitiveness."

Texans fans don't care that I've always praised their teams, talked well about them to other bloggers, and taken untold buckets of crap from those same bloggers when (at the end of the year) the Texans are usually the worst team in the AFC South. None of these olive branches matter to them. With me, Texans fans see a Hoosier born Colts fan who has spent a lot of time in New York, and whose mentality is very much "Yeah, we own you. Do somethin' about it! Oh what's  that? You can't? Then shuddap already!"

Now that the Texans fans have tasted "the nuts," their arrogant posturing before games has gotten more nauseating. It's like what we saw from the Titans last year, and what we saw for years from Jaguars fans. Not so strangely, both those fanbases are pretty silent this season. I guess Texans fans are trying to pick up the slack for the other AFC South teams.

Texans fans' posturing is why, after the Colts kick the utter crap out of the Texans again this Sunday, I'll sit back and laugh at these silly little Houston fans who think they can "trash talk" a fanbase whose team has a 13-1 record against them.

Yeah, I thought you'd be disappointed by enjoy that opening to our weekly preview. After the jump, we get to the really good stuff.

OK, all silly mock-posturing by me aside, this is a great game between two of the better teams in the AFC. Though, from a match-up standpoint, the Colts have several advantages heading into the contest.

The Colts sports the #8 scoring offense in football and the #1 scoring defense. They are attacking the pocket (#5 in sacks) and are throwing the football with deadly efficiency (completion percentage: 71.2%). The Colts sport one of the best pass defenses in football with a secondary featuring one of the best free safeties in the game (Antoine Bethea) and a different maker in Bob Sanders. Players like Jacob Lacey and Jerraud Powers have stepped up to give this secondary some significant depth.

We don't know the injury situation with stalwarts Kelvin Hayden and Marlin Jackson, but the convention wisdom is that both could play this Sunday.

With Larry Coyer's new twists on the Tampa-2, Indy has gotten more pressure from the defensive tackles and linebackers to go with the demons on the ends, Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. With well-designed blitzes and mixes in coverage, teams can no longer play the Colts with three-step drops, doubling the ends, and hitting receivers in the soft zone areas. Indy has also improved their run defense, ranked 32nd last year and now ranked 17th. This season, Indy has shut down runners like Chris Johnson and contained runners like Steven Jackson, Frank Gore, and Maurice Jones-Drew.

This does not bode well for the Texans.

Houston does not run the ball very well. Their 3.3 yards per carry is worse than the Colts (3.7). Steve Slaton (who has killed me in a fantasy league I'm in) has fumbled the ball 7 times already this season. He was benched against the Buffalo Bills last weekend after (you guessed it) another key fumble. Ryan Moats, a castoff from the Philadelphia Eagles, replaced him and ran all over the Bills.

With the running game so inconsistent and turnover prone, this puts added pressure on Texans quarterback Matt Schaub, who has been marvelous throwing the football in 2009. Schaub's success this year is certainly not surprising, but it is long overdue. His issues were never accuracy, decision-making, or ability. Schaub could just never stay healthy, and for a starting QB in this league, you must ALWAYS play. There's a reason why guys like Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, and Drew Brees are considered the upper teir and earn the big contracts. They never miss games.

The match-up advantage with the Colts defense over the Texans offense will hopefully translate into the Colts shutting down the Texans' run game, forcing Schaub to throw more than he should. With Schaub dropping back, this means more opportunities for Freeney, Mathis, and the pass rush to pressure him into mistakes. Bob Sanders' return to the lineup has already generated an INT, and the Colts pass defense has only allowed one meaningful TD in regulation in seven games. They've also snatched 7 INTs total and are holding opponents to 180 total passing yards a game.

For the Colts offense, the formula is simple: Run the ball. The Texans have surrendered 11 rushing TDs already in 2009, and give up an average of 4.7 yards a carry. They have played much better in recent weeks, but their struggles stopping the run and the pass (9 passing TDs, only 11 sacks generated) give the Colts offense an advantage they must exploit.

It will be interesting to see if the Colts use Kyle DeVan more at RG on the offensive line after yet another bad performance by Mike Pollak. Donald Brown practiced on Wednesday, and if he is good to go that adds more speed and quickness to Indy's running game.

When all is said and done, the game should be a tough contest. The Texans were always tough, even when their overall record wasn't good. The Colts seem to have more advantages over the Texans, and in terms of match-ups, they have the pieces in place to best them again. I know that is is utterly SHOCKING that I, a Colts fan, have come to that conclusion, but top to bottom the Colts are the better team. They have also never taken the Texans lightly, and will certainly not do so this weekend. Colts coach Jim Caldwell has stressed all week how the Texans have gotten hot at the right time, and that teams as explosive as the Texans are formidable opponents.

Oh course, I don't expect the Texans frat boy fans to take any of this in. They just simply hate the Colts and, probably by extension, me. To that I say: Good. Wouldn't want it any other way. I will agree with them on one thing: Their team is very good this year, and I'm happy for them.

And I'm fairly certain I'll get insulted for saying that.