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Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts

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Watching the Houston Texans demolish the Cleveland Browns in the Wild Card round had to be painful for the Colts and their fans. 

It could have been the Colts hosting the Browns at Lucas Oil Stadium with a chance to get revenge for a controversial regular season loss. Instead, it was the Texans, who beat Indianapolis in Week 18 to advance to the playoffs and ultimately win the division, who got to play another game in front of a raucous home crowd.  

It’s doubtful the Colts would have dominated the Browns like Houston did. The Texans’ rookie QB C.J Stroud, who went 16 of 21 for 274 yards and 3 touchdowns against Cleveland, might already be a Top 10 quarterback (or higher) in the league. He’s authored what could be the best rookie season for a quarterback ever. Colts quarterback Gardner Minshew is a fine backup, but it’s hard to imagine him dicing up the Browns secondary like Stroud did.  

Needless to say, Stroud’s performance highlights just how important it is for the Colts to develop their own young quarterback in Anthony Richardson.  

Stroud is going to keep the Texans relevant for the next decade. If the Colts want to keep pace, they must do everything they can with their $72-million dollars in cap space to surround Richardson with talent and help his development along. 

The Colts do have good pieces. Jonathan Taylor is still a premier back, and Josh Downs looks like he could be a real find in the slot. Michael Pittman Jr, who is a free agent, should be a high-priority target for Chris Ballard to resign. Still, the Colts could use a real game-breaking receiver to line up opposite Pittman. Alec Pierce has had a few moments, but overall, he hasn’t done nearly enough to prove he belongs in the starting lineup.  

Richardson showed promise in the limited action he saw, but he’s still young and unproven. He’s going to need all the help he can get if he is to pan out. If the Colts don’t want to spend the next decade looking up at Stroud and the Texans, they need to do everything they can to give him that help.  

During Monday’s edition of The Ride With JMV, Stephen Holder of ESPN joined and gave his thoughts on if Chis Ballard will be more active in free agency, the rookie season of C.J Stroud, and more! Listen to that conversation and more below, and tune into The Ride With JMV weekdays from 3-6pm on 93.5/107.5 The Fan! 

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