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Colts look to disrupt playoff chase against Houston

NFL: Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The last time the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts faced off was in week four, and the Texans were in a much different place. Beginning the season 0-3, Houston edged the Colts 37-34 and haven’t lost a game since.

“We are locked in on Houston, ready to go, Colts head coach Frank Reich said on Wednesday. “This is a hot team, we will be in a hostile environment against a team that’s playing very good football.”

Houston will feature a fully healthy J.J. Watt, who is currently tied for fourth in the league for sacks. “He is definitely all the way back,” Reich said. “He’s disruptive, he’s consistent – all the things that are indicative of his play are there on tape. He’s definitely a force to be reckoned with.”

Today’s game is a critical matchup because it could ultimately decide the fate of the AFC South. The Tennessee Titans beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 30-9 on Thursday night, and in order to clinch the division the Texans needed a Titans loss and a win against the Colts.

The Texans will look to heavily pressure quarterback Andrew Luck and suppress the Colts’ run game, J.J. Watt and linebacker Jadaveon Clowney will lend a hand in that.

The Colts have forced at least one turnover in every game this season and should work to slow down a high-powered Texans offense led by quarterback Desaun Watson and star receiver DeAndre Hopkins. The Texans have allowed the fourth most sacks and the third most quarterback hits this season, so the Colts’ pass rush will be key defensively.

While the Colts are the underdog in this divisional matchup, if they are able to contain Watson in the pocket, force turnovers and play on the strengths of the defense, there is a chance a Colts win could disrupt the playoff chase in the entire division.

“Houston presents a great challenge,” Luck said. “Division games on the road, huge challenge so very excited, very excited for this team.”