I don’t know what kind of voodoo is going on in Indianapolis but any team that is on the Colts schedule for the rest of the season better shut down their best players early. The run of games Indianapolis has played with their opponents missing key players or having players play through an injury is staggering.
We’ve done this before but as the streak continues, we’re going to go over it again.
Week 1 Rams: Aaron Donald (holdout)
Week 2 Cardinals: David Johnson (wrist IR), John Brown (quad)
Week 3 Browns: Myles Garrett (ankle), Jamie Collins (concussion)
Week 4 Seahawks: Doug Baldwin (groin) played but Indianapolis made up for it when rookie running back Chris Carson suffered a gruesome leg injury that cost him the remainder of his season.
Week 5 49ers: Reuben Foster (ankle)
Week 6: Marcus Mariota (hamstring) played but was limited to the pocket. Corey Davis (hamstring)
Week 7: Leonard Fournette (ankle)
Week 8: Kevin Minter (elbow), Tyler Eifer (IR)
Week 9 : Deshaun Watson (ACL IR), J.J. Watt (leg IR), Whitney Mercilus (pectoral IR)
Whether this run of bad luck is just the Football Gods giving an injured Colts team a break or not is hard to figure out. At this point, the Colts have QB Andrew Luck (shoulder), first round rookie S Malik Hooker (knee), G Jack Mewhort (knee), RB Robert Turbin (elbow), TE Erik Swoope (knee), LB Edwin Jackson, and T/G Denzelle Good (wrist) on their injured reserve. Even S Clayton Geathers (neck) has yet to play after starting the year on the physically unable to perform list.
No matter what efforts the Football Gods have made to even the playing field, it hasn’t been enough. Maybe that will change this week and the Indianapolis will be able exploit a under-prepared Texans team starting Tom Savage at quarterback?
If injuries of the season-ending variety aren’t enough to make the game challenging, Indianapolis announced today that starters John Simon (neck) and Vontae Davis (non-injury) will be inactive today. We’ve already reported that Davis did not travel with the team. Running back Matt Jones (ankle) and rookie corner Quincy Wilson (knee) will also be inactive.
In this week’s opponent scouting report, Chris Shepherd illustrated that the Texans defense is vulnerable. This could be a great opportunity for rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett to get the Colts offense going. It will require a great effort from the offensive line as Houston still has a very good defensive line — even without J.J. Watt — but the Texans have given up points all year.
Can the Colts defense have a repeat performance from last week’s contest against the Bengals? If so, Indianapolis could capitalize on a reeling Houston team without its star rookie quarterback.
5 Keys to the Game
- Defensive coordinator Ted Monachino was able to scheme his way into putting some pressure on Andy Dalton pretty consistently throughout last week’s contest. At no point did it appear that Dalton felt he could simply stand in the pocket and take his time scanning the field. If Barkevious Mingo, Tarrell Basham, Jabaal Sheard and the Colts defensive line can put pressure in Tom Savage’s face it could result in short offensive possessions and turnovers. One has to think that the Texans will have a hard time overcoming turnovers or having their defense on the field for long stretches due to an ineffective offense.
- The Colts secondary has to step up against DeAndre Hopkins and touchdown hawk Will Fuller without veteran Vontae Davis. Will Rashaan Melvin be able to pick up where he left off? He was having the best season of his career and is quietly having one of the better defensive performances by a QB in the NFL this year. Additionally, Pierre Desir had a strong game against the Bengals and helped keep A.J. Green from getting anything going.
- As with last week, the Colts must stay balanced in this game by using Frank Gore and Marlon Mack as a healthy part of the offensive game plan. Getting Mack in space to make big plays with his legs, as he has regularly done this season, could punish a Texans defensive line who sells out to punish Jacoby Brissett.
- T.Y. Hilton has to make his presence felt for the first time in three weeks. He has a history of playing well against the Texans and needs to build on that this week. No matter how Rob Chudzinski has to do it, he better have a plan that includes getting Hilton involved as a regular facet of the offense. Bonus: remember that Chester Rogers had a pretty good game against the Texans last year as well.
- In general, the Colts cannot afford drops. Kamar Aiken had a huge impact on the loss last week by dropping three passes, including one that could have gone for a touchdown. Jack Doyle has played a big role in some early losses this season with drops and fumbles. Even T.Y. Hilton has dropped passes across the middle and fumbled by trying to stretch the ball for extra yards. This team cannot afford to blow easy opportunities. The silly mistakes need to be coached out of them at this point. If they can limit the drops and stop giving the ball away, they can win.
1:00 PM ET on Sunday, November 5, 2017
NRG Stadium — Houston, TX
CBS — Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Jamie Erdahl (sideline)
WFNI (107.5FM/1070 The Fan) and WLHK (Country 97.1 Hank FM) — Bob Lamey, Jim Sorgi, Matt Taylor (sideline)
ESPN Radio — Adam Amin, Bill Polian
TV National Broadcast Map
See which games will be shown in your area, from 506Sports.com.
(Retractable roof stadium) High-80’s, partly cloudy, 20% chance precipitation, wind S 12 mph
John Parry. He is in his 18th year of NFL officiating.
Over/Under: 45.5 | Spread: Texans (-6.5) (topbet)