After making me look terrible in my first ever Reverie Control Texans prediction last week, the 12-3 Texans head to Lucas Oil Stadium to face rookie sensation Andrew Luck and his 10-5 Indianapolis Colts. The Texans could potentially lose their first round bye if they don’t take the win this week. Here are the 3 matchups to watch for:
Andrew Luck vs. Houston Pass Rush
Some luck, eh? The Colts get 14 years of arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history, and the same year he leaves, Andrew Luck arrives, shattering rookie records and leading the team from 2-14 to 10 wins already. There have been a lot of Peyton Manning comparisons for Luck, including his intelligence and poise in the pocket. Unlike vintage (and current) Peyton, he’s been sacked 40 times this year. Brooks Reed (groin) is expected to play on Sunday, so Houston’s pass rush will be as healthy as it can be for the rest of the season. J.J. Watt has 20.5 sacks on the season, 2 shy of Michael Strahan’s single-season record.
Arian Foster vs. Indianapolis Defensive Front
Foster is a bit banged up, but should be good to go on Sunday. The unit that will be trying to stop him is very banged up. The Colts’s 3-4 is expected to be missing the following starters: DE Cory Redding (quad), NT Antonio Johnson (ankle), ILB Kavell Conner (hamstring), and SS Tom Zbikowski (knee). ILB Jerrell Freeman (thumb) is listed as probable. Not a good situation for a team ranked dead last in rush defense DVOA.
Statheads vs. Purists
This stretches beyond the game. There seems to be at least one team every year that makes the playoffs and ranks terribly in advanced stats (yes, this includes the 2010 Seahawks and the 2011 Broncos, both of whom won a playoff game). The Colts are in the bottom half of the league in pass and rush offense AND pass and rush defense. Their point differential for the year is in the negatives. In spite of all of this, they’ve clinched the top Wild Card spot in the AFC with a week of games to play. Another interesting stat: the Colts are an amazing 9-1 in games decided by a touchdown or less. The Texans shouldn’t let Indianapolis hang around.
The Texans are 2-2 in their last 4 games. They have 5 or more sacks in the wins, and 1 in each of the losses. I am anticipating 4 sacks from Houston, and 2 from Watt to tie Strahan’s record. Arian Foster should have a field day against most NFL teams, but Sunday, I think the Texans running game racks up at least 150 yards on the ground as they get off to an early start and hold the lead from there. Statheads and purists rejoice: in the eyes of each, Houston is the better team.