Colts Preparing for AFC South Dogfight with Texans
The Indianapolis Colts currently sit at 4-5 with seven games left to play this season. Also at 4-5 are the Houston Texans, although the Colts own the tie breaks courtesy of their 27-20 victory in Houston. If the playoffs started today, the Colts would be the fourth seed and hosting the Steelers.
The Texans just knocked the Bengals from the rank of unbeatens, holding the high-powered Cincy offense without a touchdown. But for the Texans to take the division crown, they’ll likely have to do something unheard of in the franchise’s history: win in Indianapolis.
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Since the inception of the AFC South and the Texans themselves in 2002, they have never won in Indianapolis. Not even in 2011 (the gas leak year). The Colts own a 23-4 all-time record against the Texans.
The two teams won’t meet in Indianapolis until December 20. By that point, Andrew Luck could be back under center for the Colts. Even if he isn’t, Matt Hasselbeck proved in October that he can handle AFC South foes.
The Colts and Texans have comparable schedules leading up to their next meeting.
Colts: at Falcons (6-3), vs Buccaneers (4-5), at Steelers (6-4), at Jaguars (3-6)
Texans: vs Jets (5-4), vs Saints (4-6), at Bills (5-4), vs Patriots (9-0)
Hardly an easy stretch for either team, but it could be worse. The Texans face overall better opponents, but have more home games. While the Colts have two tough road tests (both likely without Luck). After these two teams meet in Indy, the Colts will close out the season on the road against the Dolphins and at home against the Titans. The Texans get the Titans on the road and the Jaguars at home.
Both of these team’s have had massive quarterbacking issues this season, but for different reasons. The Texans, who have never really had a franchise QB, bounced between Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett (the latter of whom the team recently cut). Hoyer left last night’s game with an apparent concussion, leaving T.J. Yates to rally the team to a win.
For the Colts, Luck has been perpetually injured this season and struggling when he’s on the field. There was a sense that Luck was starting to trend upward following the win over the Broncos top ranked defense, but now he’ll be sidelined for some time with a lacerated kidney. Luckily, Hasselbeck is the only backup QB in the NFL with a winning record this season.
The Colts have seven winnable games left on their schedule, but will more than likely need to finish the season with a winning record over their final seven games to make the playoffs. The Colts are lucky to be in the AFC South this season, where a .500 record will probably win the division. They are also lucky to have weathered the bad play of their star QB and steal a pair of wins with a backup.
It feels like the Colts are playing with fire from here on out. They’ve had a fair amount of injury luck to start the season, but now those games lost are starting to add up. The question remains: can Hasselbeck and company keep the team afloat long enough for Luck to come back and make a postseason run?