The Indianapolis Colts (2-3) will face the Houston Texans (3-2) this Sunday for a primetime matchup, and it will be for first place in the AFC South.
Sure, it’s only week six, but this game is a big one in the division race. It’s likely that the division will come down to a race between the Colts and the Texans once again this year, so it’s definitely worth learning more about this year’s Houston team. To do just that, we asked five questions to Brett Kollmann from Battle Red Blog about the Texans and this Sunday’s matchup. Our questions are in bold and Brett’s answers follow:
1. The biggest move the Texans made this offseason was going out and signing Brock Osweiler to a big deal, but so far it doesn't seem to have worked out as well as they'd hoped. How has Osweiler done so far with the Texans, and what's the expectation for him going forward from Texans fans?
Osweiler has been very up and down thus far. Despite generally having a great connection with rookie Will Fuller on deep balls, Brock's chemistry with DeAndre Hopkins has been lacking in these first five games. They simply have been unable to get on the same page when it comes to timing and ball placement, which predictably has led to no fewer than four of Osweiler's interceptions. If they can finally get their relationship on the right track (and that's a big "if" at this point), then I am rather confident in Osweiler going forward. If Brock still can't find a way to use his best weapon by the sixth week of the season, however, we may have a big problem over here in Houston.
2. The Texans also added a playmaking wide receiver alongside DeAndre Hopkins in Will Fuller. How big has that addition been to the offense?
Like I mentioned earlier, Fuller has been a revelation so far in his young career. He has had his fair share of drops, of course, but his speed, elusiveness, and versatility have given this offense an (occasional) element of dynamism that wasn't here for the last several years. Hell, one could argue that this team has really only been successful on offense this year when Fuller has been heavily involved, which is about as high of praise as I could possibly give him.
3. Obviously when you lose a player like J.J. Watt it's a huge deal, but how has the defense done in filling in for him? And how is the defense looking overall, considering their star player is now out?
Jadeveon Clowney has been doing his best J.J. Watt impersonation so far this year, which has lessened the sting just a little bit. After finally going through a full offseason of activities without any major medical setbacks, Clowney is at long last starting to live up to his first overall pick status. If he plays like this for the rest of the season, Watt's absence might not be as devastating as originally thought. As for the rest of the unit, they have played well overall - though perhaps not as consistent as most Texans fans were expecting. There is no shortage of talent to work with at every single level of the unit, but mental lapses have resulted in too many big plays at inconvenient times this year. Considering that Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton have made their careers off of capitalizing on mental lapses, I'm about worried about them this Sunday night.
4. Fans have now had the chance to see five games so far, so what's the feeling about the Texans? What do fans expect from this season?
Honestly? I expect them to win the AFC South, secure the fourth seed in the AFC, and then lose in the wildcard round to whoever comes in second in the AFC West. If Brock Osweiler turns his season around and the offensive line gets their heads out of their collective asses, maybe the Texans could get further than that. For now, however, that wildcard game is probably their ceiling.
5. Knowing what you do of the Texans, how would you attack them if you were the Colts' offensive and defensive coordinator?
You can limit the Texans offense by taking away the deep ball and trusting your front seven to stop the run with a light box. Houston can't run the ball to save their life, so even a not-so-elite front seven like Indianapolis might be able to get some penetration against the Texans' woeful offensive line. As soon as Fuller and Hopkins are taken away by bracket coverage, this team has consistently been unable to move the ball, so there's your blueprint.
As far as attacking Houston's defense, historically all the Colts have had to do in order to score was throw it to T.Y. Hilton and watch him magically break 30 tackles on his way to the end zone. I'm assuming that this strategy will work again this Sunday because it's never not worked, so if I'm Andrew Luck I'll be looking Hilton's way early and often (especially because Donte Moncrief is still injured).