Colts: 3 sneaky matchups to watch out for vs Texans

Indianapolis Colts, Jonathan Taylor, Houston Texans. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Indianapolis Colts, Jonathan Taylor, Houston Texans. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Zach Cunningham, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts
Zach Cunningham, Houston Texans. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports /

The Indianapolis Colts desperately need a win this week over the Houston Texans at home.

After their heartbreaking overtime loss last week to the Baltimore Ravens, the Indianapolis Colts are sitting at a somber 1-4. They trail their division rival Texans in the AFC South by one spot, despite matching their record. That could (and should) all change this week when the two teams face off on Sunday.

The Colts are heavy favorite against Houston, and barring disaster, should expect to escape Week 6 with a two-win record and the added bonus of handing their rivals a loss as they scoot up the divisional rankings. The Texans are power ranked at 31 after their close loss to New England. They are dead last in multiple offensive and defensive categories in the league and they’ve been consistently horrible on all sides of the ball this season.

But Indianapolis has some injuries to account for, especially on defense with Xavier Rhodes and safety Andrew Sendejo officially undergoing concussion protocol. This game is far from a horseshoe-in, and Houston has some significant talented outliers that need to be addressed to prepare for Sunday.

Here are three matchups to be aware of in Week 6’s contest between the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans.

3. Underrated Texans linebackers

Linebackers Zach Cunningham and Christian Kirksey can’t be ignored going into this game. Kirksey, in his first year with Houston, had 12 tackles last week against the Patriots. He now totals 41 tackles on the season and snagged an interception in his debut game against the Jaguars to give him a point in the turnover column. His athleticism and versatility is an asset for the Texans defense in the pass and run game. Look out for No. 58.

Cunningham is another man to be feared at linebacker. He had 164 tackles in 2020 and the best run-stop percentage in the league last year. Though his role has slightly diminished with the addition of new talent at the position, he’s still stepping up big for Houston. Cunningham could be quite an obstacle to the Colts’ run game.

He’s not going to settle down against Jonathan Taylor. With consistency throughout the linebacking corps, Houston might give Indianapolis more trouble than they expect.