The Indianapolis Colts head into their matchup with the Houston Texans fighting for the worst level of bragging rights imaginable, the distinction of being “not the worst team in the AFC South.” Should the Colts win they’ll share a 4-12 record with the Texans, but will own the tie-breaker to jump ahead of them within the division.
This wouldn’t be the ideal scenario for the Colts draft position in April, however, that’s not what’s going through the heads of the players involved. The Colts have played in 9 one-score games this season (3-6) and with the Texans being just as bad throughout their roster with a journeyman quarterback under center it doesn’t exactly look to be a high-scoring affair Sunday.
But, no matter how bad this game has the potential to be, it’s still going to be played and the Colts could really use an excellent showing despite the hope for selecting one spot higher outside the building. As we’ve mentioned before, a lot of these players have a ton to play for. Making a splash in the final game of the season is the best ‘what have you done for me lately’ you can do at this point, and there are several movable pieces who could greatly benefit from that.
With that, here are 3 predictions for the Colts season finale against the Texans.
Colts Earn First 3-Touchdown Game Since Week 3
Yes, the fact that this is even a prediction is pathetic. But, looking back on their season of only getting in the end zone 3 times once this season, this matchup appears to be the perfect fit for their second of the season. There’s very little statistical reinforcement for this being possible for the Colts offense, however, it’s the Texans defense that makes this a possibility.
The only team to allow more points than the Colts this season is the Texans yielding more than 27 points per game. Since these two got together in Week 9, the Texans have been especially bad allowing 29.4 points per game. The Colts, on the other hand, have knocked off nearly 9 points per game from their first 8 game average of 30.75 points allowed per game to giving up 21.83 in their last 6 games.
The other side of the ball, though, is even more disgusting for both of these teams. Neither team is averaging 2 scores per game since their last meeting with the Texans putting up 13.7 points per game, and the Colts earning only 13.2 points with the ball in their hands.
So, we’re going purely on blind assumption that the Colts skill-position players will show up. Between Jacoby Brissett offering at least one score in some capacity, and either Marlon Mack or Frank Gore collectively finding a way into the end zone for a score on the ground, in order to put up a third would likely have to come from something ‘special’ occurring such as one of the following instances.
Marlon Mack Earns First Career 100-yard, Multi-Touchdown Game
This would indeed be special, not only in terms of looking ahead to the talent in the backfield, but for his rookie finale in general. Many argue that a player is often ‘what they’ll be’ within their first 3 seasons in the league, but running backs especially have to make it happen as close to immediately as possible.
Backs don’t have a great shelf-life in the league (2.57 years) and a breakout game allowing Mack to bring it all together in one outing would be massive for him. He’s been billed as the big-play threat, and has shown some flashes of what the Colts saw in him through the draft process. He’s yet to be able to put both aspects of his game together along with protecting, or he stops getting touches once he gets on a roll.
Mack’s season high of 14 touches in Week 8 hasn’t been repeated since. In fact, Mack’s high ever since has been 9 touches (3 times). If Mack can break off another explosive play, then get on a roll in his next few touches he could easily attain, both, the 100 yards rushing and a pair of scores.
Colts Get First Special Teams Touchdown of the Year
This year’s Colts defense has been better against the pass in terms of forcing turnovers and the quarterback’s completion rate they’ve given up. The Colts improved from 8 (29th) interceptions in 2016 to 12 (T-16) this year, and are two full percentage points better in completion rate, from 64.% (T-26) a year ago to 62.9% (18th) this season.
Yet this season the Colts only have a single defensive touchdown (John Simon Week 8 pick-6), and nothing to show for points on special teams. This lack of points from all 3 facets of the game, to each their own, have likely been one of the larger issues in losing so many close games.
It’s possible that the Colts could put up some defensive points in this one, they certainly have more opportunities to make a big play, but I think Tom McMahon’s crew finally hits one after getting so close in a couple instances this season. The Colts special teams are without question a top-third unit in the league, but just haven’t made any big plays which have resulted in points.
They’ve been pretty good at getting pressure on kickers with the displayed ability to get their hands on the kick/punt as well. In this matchup, with these two teams, a special teams score could put either team on ice even if just to make it a two-score game at the time.
Since 2012 (last 11 meetings), the Texans have had 4 non-offensive touchdowns against the Colts whereas the Colts have only managed 1 via a kickoff return in December of 2012. I’d say the Colts are overdue.