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INDIANAPOLIS – It’s the only AFC South game the Colts will have in the first half of the 2018 season.

Normally, we are talking about the Colts and Texans meeting in a meaningful December game at Lucas Oil Stadium.

But that’s not the case this Sunday, with the calendar still in September and the two teams currently just 1-5 on the season.

If you look on paper, neither team has been as poor as those records.

The Texans have lost 3 one-possession games (@Patriots, @Titans, Giants), with quarterback Deshaun Watson knocking off some obvious rust.

Still, the Texans have been a top-15 offense on the ground and through the air, but have struggled to turn that into consistent points. They rank 22nd in points scored with Lamar Miller and DeAndre Hopkins leading the efforts in the run game and pass game, respectively.

Bill O’Brien’s defense still has some big names in its front seven.

While J.J. Watt had 3.0 sacks last week, former No. 1 pick Jadeveon Clowney has been quieter. The Texans rank 18th in total defense, and 26th in points allowed.

Obviously, this game is critical for both of these teams to not let the separation at the top of the division grow any more.

After Sunday, the Colts will play just one home game until Nov. 11.

That adds to the critical importance of the Colts winning on Sunday, before they travel to New England on a short week next Thursday.

The Colts might have been playing with house money a bit against the Eagles. That won’t be the case on Sunday when hosting the Texans.

 

2018 Record: 0-3, last place in the AFC South.

Head Coach: Bill O’Brien, head coach (5th season as an NFL head coach, 31-36 overall in regular season, 1-2 in the postseason).

2018 NFL Rankings:  Offense – Overall, 8th (396.3); Rushing, 8th (124.7); Passing, 13th (271.7). Defense – Overall, 18th (350.3); Rushing, 20th (112.0); Passing, 14th (238.3).

2018 Leading Quarterback: Deshaun Watson (63-of-106 comp., 871 yards, 59.4 pct., 5 TDs, 3 INTs, 89.8 rating).

2018 Leading Running Back: Lamar Miller (44 carries, 176 yards, 0 TD).

2018 Leading Receiver: DeAndre Hopkins (20 receptions, 274 yards, 0 TDs).

2018 Leading Sacker: J.J. Watt (3.0).

2018 Turnover Breakdown: Minus 1 (tied for 24th in the NFL).

2018 NFL Draft Results: Trading up for Deshaun Watson in the 2017 Draft mortgaged the 2018 resources for the Texans. Their 4th overall pick in April, after a 4-12 season, went to Cleveland. Houston’s first selection in April’s Draft came in the third round, as they selected Stanford safety Justin Reid at No. 68 overall. That selection started a two-round run where the Texans took Mississippi State offensive lineman Martinas Rankin (80th overall), Central Florida tight end Jordan Akins (98th overall) and Texas Tech wide receiver Keke Coutee (103rd overall).

2017 Review: Everything for the Houston Texans changed in an early November practice. A freak torn ACL suffered by Deshaun Watson sent the Texans spiraling out of control. Houston was sparked by Watson’s impressive rookie campaign and were 3-4 going into a matchup with the Colts. But once the Watson injury occurred, the Texans won just one game in the final nine weeks of the season. The 4-12 season ended Bill O’Brien’s three-year run of going 9-7.

Last time in Playoffs: 2016 season. Lost in the Divisional Round of the Playoffs, 34-16, to the New England Patriots.

Last time in Super Bowl: None.

Super Bowl Championships: None.

2017 Pro Bowl Selections: WR-DeAndre Hopkins, OLB-Jadeveon Clowney.