The Indianapolis Colts are hosting the Houston Texans this Sunday to take control of the AFC South in 2019.
If you were to say this is a big game that’d be an understatement. The last time these two teams met, the Colts knocked the Texans out of the playoffs with a 21-7 dominant win. Scoring all their points in the 1st half, the Colts played ball control and field position with their opponents. Andrew Luck beat the Texans with nearly 250 yards passing, a pair of touchdowns, and an interception off of the tipped pass. However, the MVP of the game was Marlon Mack with 144 yards rushing and a touchdown with a 6 yard per carry average.
Averaging 142 yards per game, the Colts come into this game with the third-best running offense in the league with 710 yards total while having a 4.2 YPC season average. Marlon Mack is leading the pack with 470 yards and 2 touchdowns. Ironically, his best game was in the Week 1 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers with 25 carries, 174 yards, and a touchdown. Coming along with that is a career-high 7.0 YPC with a great performance.
If the Colts are looking to win this weekend, they must use their rushing attack against the vaunted Texans defense. The 10th ranked rushing defense, only giving up 526 yards over the season, only allows an average of 4.4 YPC and only 88 yards per game on average. On the season so far, they’ve faced the Chiefs, Falcons, Chargers, Panthers, Jaguars, and Saints – mostly pass-first teams.
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In week 1 against the Saints, the run defense was atrocious with a score of 27.6 according to Pro-football focus. The score showed with the Texans losing a close game 28-30. Alvin Kamara is a great running back, but he’s used in the passing game just as much and the offensive line for the Saints is built for pass blocking, not run blocking.
Week 2 saw the Texans win a close game against the Jaguars 13-12. The Jags ran the ball 21 times for 103 yards, but 6 of those were quarterback rushes for 56 yards. The leading rusher for the Jags was Leonard Fournette with 15 carries and 47 yards. However, 24 yards were after the first hit leading to inflated numbers since the Texans are notoriously good tacklers.
In week 3, the Chargers traveled to Houston and were beat 27-20. The Chargers ran 18 times for 73 yards with Austin Ekeler being the leading rusher of the day with only 36 yards on 9 carries with 26 of those yards coming after first contact. Houston did a good job at rounding up the runner with only 1 rushing play over 10 yards in the game.
Week 4 featured the Panthers where the #1 running back in the league this year, Christian McCaffrey, didn’t kill them on the ground, but rather on short passes and elusive running. McCaffrey had 93 of the 94 yards gained by Carolina and 27 of the 28 carries and the lone rushing touchdown. Houston played pretty good rushing defense in this game, considering going against the #1 rushing attack. McCaffery also caught 10 passes for 92 yards with most of those yards coming after the catch behind the line of scrimmage.
Week 5 saw the Falcons play against Houston. Atlanta already has a poor rushing offense and Matt Ryan is throwing for a ton of yards. This is also due to the defense playing very poorly, too. Houston held the Falcons to 57 yards on 20 carries and a lone touchdown by a quarterback sneak. Even worse is the longest rushing play was 21 yards, nearly 30% of the total yardage on the day.
In week 6 the Chiefs played Houston who is known for their passing rather than their rushing. The Chiefs had 11 carries for 53 yards but beat the Texans through the air. Houston played excellent defense and forced the Chiefs into passing the whole game.
For the Colts to win this game, their running game needs to be aggressive. They also need the play action passes to keep the aggressive defense at bay and use Ebron in a receiver role rather than as a blocker. This is one the most important game of this year for the Colts who need every win they can get to take control of the AFC South.