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Old 11-01-2010, 05:20 PM
stevo stevo is offline
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Default Colts matchup week 8: Indianapolis Colts (4-2) vs. Houston Texans (4-2)

Colts matchup week 8: Indianapolis Colts (4-2) vs. Houston Texans (4-2)

Phillip B. Wilson

The matchups mostly favor the visitors. How often do we ever say that about a team entering Lucas Oil Stadium? Rarely, if ever. But Houston has the offensive capability to push the Colts off their perch as AFC South champions. This much was evident after the 34-24 Texans victory in the season opener. And while Houston has struggled at times since then, it has also shown great resilience to rally from 17 down to win at Washington and 10 down to knock off Kansas City.

Reminders wonít be necessary, but Colts defenders will see a lot of film on RB Arian Foster before this game. They havenít forgotten his franchise-record 231 rushing yards in the opener. They have seen decent backs before who make decisive cuts behind zone-blocking schemes. The Colts have typically adjusted, but didnít last time. Can they this time? That could be the ultimate difference in deciding if the Coltsí time has indeed ended or if the AFC South is still very much up for grabs with Indianapolis in the middle of the conversation.

Neutralize Foster to some extent and the Colts should be able to put enough points against a Texans defense which ranks last in total yards allowed and 31st in passing yards permitted. Donít get enough stops against the NFLís best team in rushing average and this game gets decided late. The Colts were fortunate to escape with a 20-17 home win over the Texans last year. They canít afford to let the visitors stay close or this outcome could be different. And another Colts loss, which would drop them to 0-3 in division games, would drastically reduce any likelihood of not just another AFC South title but possibly a playoff berth.

The Coltsí Peyton Manning must drive his offense without two of its best weapons in injured TE Dallas Clark and WR Austin Collie. The situation would seem bleak for most other teams. But the hunch is the Colts will remind a national audience thereís still enough capable playmakers for Manning to utilize to get the job done. Manning is the NFL leader in passer rating at 103.4. Expect him to shine on the big stage again.

The uncertainty of RB Joseph Addai due to a shoulder injury likely means the Colts will split up a few carries between Mike Hart and possibly Donald Brown, who could return from a hamstring injury. The Texans allow 104.3 rushing yards per game while the Coltsí average ground gain is 94.8. But without Addai, itís doubtful the Colts run much. EDGE: TEXANS.

Peyton Manning was knocked to the ground 10 times in the season-opening loss at Houston. But the offensive line had not played one snap together due to injuries. Manning has been sacked six times, so the protection has improved. The Colts will miss two of the best pass catchers in TE Dallas Clark and WR Austin Collie, but thereís still plenty of talent. EDGE: COLTS.

RB Arian Foster had 40 yards rushing at halftime of his breakout opener, so itís not like the Colts didnít show they could stop him at times. But then he ran wild and the Colts wore down. WLB Clint Session got hurt in that game. Heís playing better now. This matchup could be the biggest key. The Colts must manage Foster or history could repeat itself. EDGE: TEXANS.

QB Matt Schaub led the NFL in passing last season, but has had trouble behind an offensive line which has allowed 16 sacks. While Schaub has driven the Texans to comeback wins over Kansas City and at Washington and WR Andre Johnson is one of the NFLís best, the Coltsí pass rush is faster at home and wonít give Schaub much time when he drops back. EDGE: TEXANS.

The one-game suspension of punter/kickoff specialist Pat McAfee means the Colts probably wonít be able to rely upon touchbacks to protect a revamped coverage unit. Colts PK Adam Vinatieri has made 10-of-12 FGs. The Texans have struggled with a 19.3-yard kickoff return average, but Jacoby Jones is capable. He almost broke a punt return for a TD against the Colts last time. Texans PK Neil Rackers is 9-of-11 on FGs. EDGE: TEXANS.

Texans coach Gary Kubiak has the Texans firmly entrenched as an AFC South contender, despite double-digit home losses to Dallas and the N.Y. Giants. The Texans have endured their share of setbacks to prove they are legitimate playoff threats. Colts coach Jim Caldwell has seen his team overcome injuries before, but this will be his strongest challenge on the job. EDGE: EVEN.

Colts matchup week 8: Indianapolis Colts (4-2) vs. Houston Texans (4-2) | | The Indianapolis Star
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