INDIANAPOLIS – Just 14 days after their first meeting in 2020, the Colts and Texans will see each other again.
And, actually, a lot has changed since the Colts escaped Houston (thanks to the ‘Maradona hand of God,’ according to their Owner) with a 26-20 win in Week 13.
Let’s take a look back on that first Colts/Texans meeting and see what we learned:
–Hilton Does It Again: Nope, the Texans still have zero answer for T.Y. Hilton. The Colts had a clear plan to get Hilton going early in Week 13 and the man who has tormented the Texans over the years did it yet again. Hilton had 8 catches for 110 yards and a touchdown, setting the tone early against a team that continues to be lost in trying to slow down The Ghost. After finally having that breakout game in 2020, Hilton followed up with another 100-yard + (2) touchdown effort last week. Even though Hilton typically has more production in road games versus the Texans, he still is a guy who the Texans must commit serious attention towards.
–Magic Of Watson: Like the rest of the NFL, the Colts saw the magic of Deshaun Watson back on December 6th. Watson passed for 341 yards and ran for another 38, leading the Texans offense while having a decimated wideout group. The Colts did sack Watson 5 times in that first meeting, but the dynamic quarterback kept numerous plays alive that ended in big-time plays for the Texans. Again, the skill group around Watson is still lacking, but his presence alone is enough to make Matt Eberflus sleep a little less this week.
-Lose It or Win It? Despite out-gaining the Colts, it was the Texans making the costly mistake two yards away from the highlight of their season. An errant snap by Houston center Nick Martin, coupled with Colts defensive tackle Grover Stewart sneaking into the backfield and punching the ball out, in which linebacker Anthony Walker eventually recovered, sealed the victory. It was a gift, but the Colts defense did often rise to the occasion in the second half back in Week 13, delivering some important playmaking. Did that loss end any dwindling momentum the Texans had built up after firing Bill O’Brien? Was that win something that jolted the Colts into this critical stretch to close out 2020?
-Personnel Changes: Even though these teams played just two weeks ago, there have been some notable personnel changes, and it looks to be positive for the Colts. First, the Colts did not have these three guys in that first meeting: LT-Anthony Castonzo (LT-Le’Raven Clark then tore his Achilles on the first series), LB-Bobby Okereke and S-Khari Willis. They are all back. The Texans lost starting defenders S-Justin Reid and DT-Brandon Dunn in their blowout loss to the Bears last week. In that first Colts/Texans meeting, Jonathan Taylor had just 1 carry in a 40-minute stretch before exploding in the 4th quarter (73 yards on 10 carries). Taylor’s role is likely to be much more consistent on Sunday.