In only the second week of their season, the Indianapolis Colts will play their second divisional game as they hit the road to match up against their AFC South rival in the Houston Texans. After a season opening loss against Jacksonville this past Sunday, the Colts will look to secure their first win of 2023 in Houston.
Both teams are trying to avoid a two-loss start, as the Texans fell to the Ravens last Sunday in second-overall pick C.J Stroud's debut game. The Houston offense failed to get a touchdown on the board and didn't even score double-digit points in a 16-point loss in Baltimore.
While the numbers seem awful, the Texans aren't an easy matchup. They're in the middle of their own rebuild and acquired a new head coach in DeMeco Ryans earlier this year. Offensively, the Texans are trusting in former Ohio State Buckeye C.J. Stroud to carry the franchise after Deshaun Watson's exit last year.
In a battle of two rebuilds, the Colts need to capitalize on an early divisional game to avoid digging themselves too deep of a hole to climb out of later in the season. These three matchups will be the deciding factor in which rookie quarterback will leave NRG Stadium with their first NFL victory on Sunday.
3. Michael Pittman Jr. vs Derek Stingley Jr.
After nine appearances in his rookie season, Texans cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. allowed zero touchdowns in coverage before being placed on IR due to a hamstring injury. The former LSU Tiger showed his worth to the organization, and excelled in his Week 1 matchup against Odell Beckham Jr. in the season opener. Stingley limited Beckham to just two catches for 37 yards in Beckham's Ravens debut.
For the Colts, fourth-year veteran Michael Pittman Jr. showed why he's the go-to man for Indianapolis. The 25-year-old wide receiver caught eight passes for 97 yards and was reliable for Anthony Richardson's first career touchdown pass. Pittman Jr. has only two career touchdowns against the Texans, and adding one this weekend will be crucial in helping guide the Colts to a road win.
Pittman Jr. got off to a slow start last week, but demonstrated his true potential in the second half of the game. The Colts' offense needs to game-plan around getting Pittman involved in the first quarter as his play-extending ability shows why he blends in perfectly with Anthony Richardson's playstyle.
If the Colts can win the outside matchup, expect Pittman to gain over 100 yards against Houston as he forms a stronger connection with Richardson.