The Indianapolis Colts clinched their ninth division title on Sunday after defeating the Houston Texans, 17-10. The win keeps the Colts in the third spot for the playoffs with an outside shot at a bye.
The Colts managed to keep the Texans winless in Indianapolis and earning another AFC South banner. The offense struggled once again and the defense was forced to carry the team for most of the afternoon.
Here’s what stood out on Sunday:
- Offensive Issues. For the second straight week, the Colts struggled on offense and turned the ball over for a touchdown in the first quarter. The Colts had the top ranked offense in the NFL heading into the week, but recent struggles have seen their strength become a weakness.
- Andrew Luck had a rough week. The interception was on Coby Fleener as much as it was Luck, but he still managed to miss a number of wide open players (like Dwayne Allen on the first drive). He also made some unreal throws (like the touchdown to Allen) but if the Colts are going to have any hope in the playoffs Luck will have to play at an MVP level and carry this team.
- Dan Herron is better than Trent Richardson and it isn’t even close. Arguments are being made that Richardson is the better blocker and should stay in for that reason. But that hardly matters if opponents don’t fear the Colts run game whatsoever. Herron is the better runner and being the closer at the end of the game proved it. Running Richardson is basically donating downs to the opponents and the Colts spent most of the day operating out of second-and-longs due to poor first down runs.
- The offensive line is a mess. Jack Mewhort has hit the rookie wall. Jonotthan Harrison isn’t very good (and a better center wallows on the bench). Gosder Cherilus has had a rough season and Lance Louis was beyond bad Sunday. Luck still gets hit far too often, and rarely has time to throw. When A.Q. Shipley was at the helm for the first four games, we were talking about how much improved the line looked. Now its as bad as 2013 and Luck is still getting beat up. This can be fixed as the Colts have better players on the roster, but its highly unlikely to change (as evidenced by Shipley being inactive on Sunday).
- The wide receivers couldn’t find much separation. This isn’t particularly surprising to see from Reggie Wayne (at least lately) but for T.Y. Hilton not to go off against the Texans felt odd. Coby Fleener also wasn’t open very often. Luck did miss some easy throws, but when the receivers can’t get open and the line doesn’t give Luck time then its a sack (or worse).
- More Defense. The Colts defense has feasted on the dregs of the NFL’s quarterback corps. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tom Savage proved to be no exception. The Texans were held to just a field goal on offense and just 289 yards of offense. Houston managed 137 yards on the ground, but had to carry the ball 41 times to get there which equates to a 3.3 yard per carry average.
- Accurate Stick. Pat McAfee was a beast with directional punting on Sunday. The Texans started five drives inside their own 15-yard line. He also added three more touchbacks on kickoffs to his league leading 67 overall (10 more than the next closest player). Not only were McAfee’s punts perfect, the Texans only managed six return yards due to outstanding coverage. Special teams have been outstanding all season long, and we didn’t even mention Adam Vinatieri‘s perfect season.