The Colts are one game back from the Titans for the lead of the AFC South. With only five games remaining, each one is crucial if the Colts plan to catch up.
This Sunday, the Colts head down to Houston to play the 4-7 Texans. The Texans are clearly having a down year, but they are an AFC South rival which Indy can not take for granted.
Here are the players I think will be key to winning this game:
Jonathan Taylor (RB)
As badly as I wanted to pick T.Y. Hilton this week, I have to go with Jonathan Taylor and the run game.
The Texans have struggled all season long on defense, and run defense especially. Houston is giving up over 150 rushing yards per game, which is 31st in the league. The only team they are better than is Dallas.
Ryan Kelly should be back on Sunday for the Colts offensive line, but it looks like Anthony Castonzo will not. Castonzo has been a vital piece to the offensive line since the early days of Andrew Luck, and not having him on the field has proved to be a struggle for the Colts.
The good news, I suppose, is the Colts haven't considered putting LT Anthony Castonzo on IR, which would sideline him a minimum of three weeks. Reich vows Castonzo is making good progress. He'll miss his first game with the sprained MCL Sunday in Houston.— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) December 4, 2020
With Castonzo out, that likely means Le’Raven Clark will be on the field for Indy in his place. This will give Philip Rivers less time to pass the ball and likely the Colts will have to rely on the running backs to break free for some big runs.
Taylor missed last week’s game against the Titans because he was on the COVID-19 reserve list. He should be all rested up for this game, and prepared to go.
Taylor is entering this Sunday’s game with 4 rushing touchdowns and 518 rushing yards on his 135 attempts. He is averaging 3.8 yards per carry.
Look out for number 28 on Sunday.
DeForest Buckner (DT)
I am picking Buckner this week for multiple reasons, but I think last week spoke for itself on just how important this man is to the team.
The Colts have had a top defense all season long, and even dominated the Titans in their first game against each other. However, last week it was the TItans that got the best of the Colts in embarrassing fashion.
Derrick Henry ran for 178 yards and three touchdowns. Interestingly enough, two of the Colt’s best defensive linemen were missing from that game. Denico Autry and DeForest Buckner.
Both men had to miss the game because they, like Taylor, were on the COVID-19 list. The Colts were clearly missing the physical presence that the two of them provide and they couldn’t overcome it.
On Friday, Buckner was activated from the COVID-19 list and should be good to go for Sunday.
Buckner is such a big body on the field, and he is feared by all opponents. These opponents give so much attention to Buckner that if he can’t disrupt a play, it makes it easier for the rest of the team to do so.
Buckner will be a beast on Sunday, and the Colts are going to need him.