This weekend our Indianapolis Colts are in Texas to take on the Houston Texans, (DraftKings Sportsbook has the Texans as 7.5 point underdogs) with those festivities in mind I sat down with Scott Barzilla aka VBallRetired of Battle Red Blog, SB Nation’s Houston Texans blog. We swapped questions and answers about both the Texans and the Colts and what follows is what I’ve learned about this week's enemy.
- What are your expectations for the Texans this season?
Scott: I think 2022 will be a fascinating season in one sense. I think we are definitely a better football team than we were last season. Plus, those looking from afar just have no idea what a train wreck David Culley was. However, we also have a much tougher schedule on paper. Jacksonville shouldn’t be a dumpster fire with Pederson and key additions. I think we end up with a similar record as last season but look a whole lot better doing it.
- Who are some unsung or unheralded players that we should know about this year?
Scott: Dameon Pierce could be a monster. He never had a huge workload in college so he was unheralded and unproven. These things usually cut both ways. The good news is that there is far less tread on those tires. The bad news is you don’t see many part-time backs in college become consistent 20-carry guys like you guys have over there in Taylor. On defense, Jalen Pitre could be a Pro Bowler now. The second-round pick has a nose for the football and loves playing up in the box. He could end up being a Swiss Army knife for the Lovie Smith defense.
- What are the keys for a Texans victory over the Colts in Week One?
Scott: The Smith defense was opportunistic last season, and they’ll have to be again. Simply put, we don’t quite stack up yet against most teams, the Colts included. If the Texans can win the turnover battle and sustain a running game, they have a shot. Otherwise, it could be a long day.
- What do the Colts look like to someone from the outside looking in?
Scott: I honestly don’t know how you didn’t win the division last year. The offense is better than the Titans' offense. The defense was better. While Wentz crumbled down the stretch, the overall numbers looked pretty good. I see this as a make-it-or-break-it year for Frank Reich. You have more talent than any team in the division. They should run away with it. Now, where they stack up with the Bills, Chiefs, and whoever else will depend on what Ryan has left.
Writer’s note: numbers can be very deceiving.
- A million years ago the Colts traded away Jerry Hughes for a bag of balls, he went on to have a solid career with the Bills, and this offseason he signed with Houston. Has he looked like he has much left in the tank, and is he slated to play a big role this season?
Scott: Caserio has really praised Hughes’ leadership. I’m a Horned Frog alum, so I’m biased there. He actually had really good PFF numbers last season despite a lack of sacks, so we are hopeful he can at least be a rotational player.
- The Texans took cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. with the third overall pick; how has he looked so far?
Scott: Stingley looks good. He did get to shake off a little rust in the preseason, but I imagine he will look much better in the second half of the season. He might not pay immediate dividends like Pitre, but I think he will be a perennial all-pro.
- If you had to guess, how many wins do the Texans have this season?
Scott: I’m going to go 5-12 this year. Playing the AFC West will be brutal for all of us, and there are some other tough games on that schedule too.
- Any unpopular opinions about the Texans you’re willing to share?
Scott: I’m not a Davis Mills guy which makes me unpopular with the readers. I think he can be similar to Andy Dalton which is actually a compliment if you look at Dalton’s numbers. Plus, I’m a Horned Frog. I love Andy Dalton. I just think we are better off going after Young, Stroud, or whoever the top guy is in the next draft.
Scott seems like a good guy even though he roots for the Texans and writes for Battle Red. You can find him on Twitter @SBarzilla. I hope you have enjoyed this week's Q&A and will join me next week when I sit down with Big Cat Country to talk about Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
DraftKings Sportsbook has the Colts -7 as of this writing. Find updated lines at DraftKings Sportsbook.