The Colts travel to Houston on Sunday to take on the Texans. And while the sports fans in Houston are likely still buzzing from their Astros winning the World Series, a crushing injury to Deshaun Watson has brought some of that jubilation to a screeching halt. Can the Indianapolis defense take advantage of the now hindered Texans offense?
The Texans’ offense has been electric over the past five weeks as they have averaged a staggering 39 points per game since Week 3. The Texans have scored 19 passing touchdowns through their first seven games. Houston had only 15 touchdowns through the air all of last season.
Rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson, who took over for Tom Savage at halftime of the Texans’ opener against Jacksonville, is the biggest reason for the offensive turnaround in Houston. The rookie out of Clemson has thrown for almost 1,700 yards on the season.
Unfortunately for the Texans, Watson reportedly tore his ACL in his practice this week and will be out for the remainder of the season. Watson’s injury will thrust Savage back into the starting quarterback role. Savage has a career 1-2 record with no touchdowns and one interception.
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The Watson injury puts the pressure squarely on the shoulders of the Houston offensive line, now without tackle Duane Brown, to protect Savage and open holes for running backs Lamar Miller and D’Onta Foreman. Miller has amassed 426 yards on the ground and Foreman has gained 207 on the season. Without the dual-threat of Watson under center, the Colts will not need to spy on the quarterback with a linebacker, thus freeing up Antonio Morrison or Jon Bostic to make stops in the running game.
Watson’s absence will be felt most by the Texans’ receiving corps. DeAndre Hopkins has been on the receiving end of seven touchdowns this season. Racking up 13.5 yards per catch, Hopkins is a big-play threat.
Second-year receiver Will Fuller has also been dominant since his return from a broken collarbone in Week 4 against the Titans. Since his return, Fuller has scored 7 touchdowns through 4 games, and he is averaging 21.5 yards per reception with 279 yards on 13 catches.
Vontae Davis and Nate Hairston must stay in front of Houston’s home run hitters. Rashaan Melvin was back at practice this week after missing the last two games with a concussion. His return will be a much-needed boost to a ravaged secondary that is playing without talented rookie Malik Hooker who is on injured reserve.
If the Texans’ offense mimics the one that took the field in the first half of it’s opener against Jacksonville when Tom Savage was at the helm, the Colts stand a good chance of emerging victorious. If Savage is able to utilize his weapons as well as Watson had been, it’ll be a long afternoon for the Colts defense.