Indianapolis heads down to the Lone Star State to do battle with Houston on Sunday afternoon. The dominant Texans defense has been decimated by injuries this season, leaving reason to believe the Colts offense could have success, especially in the passing game.
J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus, the two dominant Houston pass rushers, are out for the season. This puts Jadeveon Clowney as the focal point of the Texans pass rush, and the player that the Colts’ offensive line must block.
Clowney, the former first overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, has had an injury-plagued career thus far. This season, however, the outside linebacker has started every game for Houston. If Anthony Costanzo, who is listed as questionable with a knee injury, is unable to go on Sunday, Jeremy Vujnovich or Joe Haeg would slide into his spot.
Clowney is the only dominant player on Houston’s front seven. If the Colts can keep him in check by chipping him with tight ends or keeping a running back in to block, Indianapolis stands a good chance of keeping Jacoby Brissett upright.
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Johnathan Joseph is still getting it done. A former first-round pick of the Bengals in 2006, Joseph is the unquestioned leader of the Houston secondary. Joseph has 28 career interceptions. He has 2 so far this season, one of which he returned 82 yards for a touchdown.
Kareem Jackson is another first-round talent in the Texans defensive backfield. While his skills have diminished slightly, the eight-year pro still has plenty of juice left in the tank. He’ll likely be covering the slot, and could find himself matched up against T.Y. Hilton at various points in the game. Hilton must get out of his recent funk and take advantage of one-on-one match ups, especially against Jackson.
Kevin Johnson returned from injury last week against the Seahawks. Yet another first-round cornerback on the Texans roster, Johnson does not sport the same resume` as Joseph and Jackson. Kamar Aiken has under-performed mightily this season and it’s time for him to step up and help out his quarterback. Aiken needs to create separation from Johnson and make those necessary catches to preserve drives.
Houston is currently 26th in points allowed. And although the Texans are stout against the run, ranking 9th in the league, with all the injuries this defense has endured, the Colts can take advantage.
Jimmy Graham scored twice, Travis Kelce had 8 receptions and Rob Gronkowski had 89 yards and a touchdown against the Texans in their respective match ups. Jack Doyle is the key to the Colts’ offense. If the Colts’ O-Line can hold up against Clowney, and Doyle can build on last week’s stellar performance, Indianapolis should emerge from Houston with a W.