NFL 2019 (Week 12): Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans

Russell S. Baxter

NFL 2019 (Week 12): Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans

By Jesse Pierson

Special to Pro Football Guru

The Houston Texans have won three of the last four AFC South titles, including last season. However, they were upended in the playoffs by the Indianapolis Colts, the only team who has won the South more often than they have. It is worth noting that seven of the Colts’ nine division titles came during the Peyton Manning era, and since he last suited up for Indianapolis in 2010, Houston has claimed the throne five times. It appears that these two teams are the class of the division once again this year, and Thursday night’s pivotal matchup could well determine who has the inside track toward divisional supremacy, as per usual. Houston’s secondary is as plagued by injury as Indianapolis’ receiving corps, so whichever unit is able to play through pain likely gets the upper hand. Indianapolis won Round 1 a month ago--can the Texans defend their home turf in the rematch?

Colts: Since being drafted in 2012, T.Y. Hilton has seemingly played his best games in the city of Houston. Consider this: Hilton has scored three regular season receiving touchdowns against the Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium, and he has scored seven at NRG Stadium. In the two games in Houston last season (regular season and playoffs), Hilton combined for 14 catches and 284 yards. Although he was held out of the end zone in both games, the Colts walked away with two wins. And, after missing last the last three games (of which Indy lost two), Hilton is listed as questionable but was a full participant in Tuesday’s walk-through practice. That sound you hear is a collective sigh of relief from Colts fans, as Sunday’s win over Jacksonville was the first time Indianapolis won a game without Hilton since his arrival (0-7 in prior games he missed). Jacoby Brissett also returned to action against Jacksonville, and while he was not spectacular, he was leaps and bounds above the play exhibited by Brian Hoyer versus Pittsburgh and Miami. Brissett must hope to keep pace with Deshaun Watson in order for his team to steal a road win on a short week.

Texans: Watson will aim to shake off the 41-7 drubbing that Houston endured in Baltimore Sunday. It was a resounding defeat, as Watson was sacked six times and offered up an interception. Defensively, Lamar Jackson was able to lead his team to nearly 500 yards of total offense, was not sacked, and committed zero turnovers. In the back end, safeties Justin Reid and Mike Adams have been ruled out of this game, where they will be joined on the bench by rookie cornerback Lonnie Johnson. Tashaun Gipson and Bradley Roby are also listed as questionable. Without J.J. Watt up front, the Texans will rely upon D.J. Reader, Whitney Mercilus and company to both pressure Brissett and shut down Indianapolis’ suddenly-resurgent running game. Houston will need a strong showing from their 13th-ranked run defense (101.3 yards allowed per game), as the Colts had two running backs eclipse 100 yards on Sunday. Of course, one of those--Marlon Mack--will not play in this game, much to the benefit of Romeo Crennel’s group.

Prediction: Watson rights the ship to the tune of 300 yards and three passing touchdowns, but his defense once again fails to secure the victory.

Indianapolis Colts 28, Houston Texans 27

Jesse Pierson (@jessetpierson) is a former teacher and high school football coach who has written about the Colts for over a decade. He loves football, dogs, food, and comedy, and you can follow his work on his Facebook page, Jesse Pierson, Mediocre Writer.

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