With the regular season in the rear-view mirror, NFL Wild Card Weekend is upon us as the “real” season begins on Saturday afternoon. In Game 1, the surging Indianapolis Colts travel to Houston for a meeting with the Texans. The Colts ousted the Titans in Nashville this past Sunday night to earn the right to travel to Houston this week.
The Titans did all they could to counter Andrew Luck and the Colts’ offense, but Tennessee couldn’t get anything going with Blaine Gabbert. Marcus Mariota and his legs might have changed the dynamic of that game a bit. They avoided that last week, but won’t be able to when Deshaun Watson steps on the field for the Texans. Watson is going to test the Colts, though they did a fine job containing him in their second meeting of the regular season.
Watson threw for 267 yards with a touchdown and 35 yards rushing. He didn’t make any mistakes, but it wasn’t enough in a 24-21 win for the Colts. Indianapolis knows that they can win in Houston, but the playoffs are a different animal. It may not come as easily as it did in their previous trip here.
The stakes are just a little higher and the lights are a little brighter when it’s a do-or-die game in the postseason. In their first meeting in September, Watson passed for 375 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception. That resulted in a 37-34 win in overtime for the Texans. So, in two games against the Colts, he’s thrown 647 yards and 3 touchdowns with an interception.
That pales in comparison to the damage that Andrew Luck has gone to the Texans’ secondary this season. Luck passed for a staggering 863 yards with 6 touchdowns and 1 interception in two games this season. The Colts ripped off a total of 914 yards in those two games alone.
The Texans are going to have to defend against Luck with a banged up secondary. Defensive backs have been dropping like flies for the Texans. With the emergence of Eric Ebron at tight end, it’s becoming difficult for defenses to blanket T.Y. Hilton deep. It’s going to be even more difficult with a depleted secondary for the Texans. We’ll see if they can hold up against the aerial attack of the Colts. Head below for our free Colts vs. Texans pick in the AFC Wild Card Game.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans AFC Wild Card Game Betting Odds:
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Colts vs. Texans Pick:
The Texans recently put safety Mike Tyson in IR to make room for A.J. Hendy. Hendy was previously sitting on the Chargers’ practice squad, so leading up to this important game, the Texans are still making moves to add depth to their defense. Tyson started in two games this season and was mostly used as a reserve. He is the fourth defensive back on the Texans to hit the IR.
It started early with the loss of Kevin Johnson in Week 1 and then it progressively got worse. If there is one major weakness on the Texans, it’s the secondary. Houston were near the back of the league against the pass, with an average of 260.4 yards allowed per game for 28th in the NFL.
Before Luck unloads, the Texans are going to have to get to the Colts’ offensive line. However, this offensive line of the Colts has improved drastically in the last year. Before Luck went out with the shoulder injury, he couldn’t stay upright long enough to drop back and get to his second read on the field. He has more time now, but the Texans will be gunning for him in the trenches.
The presence of Ebron as a safety valve at tight end across the middle will provide some help to counter the Houston pass rush. Luck is likely going to get his, though I have a feeling this is Deshaun Watson’s time to shine at home. Watson has thrown for 26 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, along with 551 yards on the ground with an additional 5 touchdowns.
He will be facing an Indianapolis defense that improved significantly 2018. They finished 11th in the NFL with an average of 339.4 yards allowed per game. What they won’t find is Blaine Gabbert missing wide open passes this week, though. Watson is going to make them work more than that. The Texans have scored an average of 25.8 points per game in Houston this season. Their secondary is just a tad too scary to rely on against Luck, though. I see this as a 28-24 or 31-26 game. The best play is likely on the OVER in what should be a terrific ball game to open up Wild Card Weekend in the NFL.