Believe it or not, there are some people out there who don't think Andrew Luck will be a scourge on your Houston Texans, the AFC South, and the NFL for years to come. I cannot fathom how any Texans fan would objectively come to that conclusion. I can appreciate the notion that Andrew Luck shouldn't be fitted for a crown just yet. But after watching Luck in college and throughout his rookie year, how can anyone think he's not going to be very good for a very long time?
Andrew Luck is already quite good. He's only going to get better. That's not what you want to see from a division rival, especially at quarterback.
And for the Colts to go from 13 years of Peyton Manning to what's sure to be a decade-plus of Andrew Luck, with only a single season of abhorrent football separating the two? Where are the repeated gloomy seasons of 4-12, 5-11, and 6-10, complete with the organization droning on about patience and intangible progress? How is it the Colts bottom out the one year when the prize is Andrew Luck instead of JaMarcus Russell? Answer me, Fate! Answer me!
In addition to the luck of the Colts scoring Luck, of equal concern is the undeniable truth that, at least one year in, the Colts (under new management in the personnel department) look to have had a stupendous 2012 draft. Opportunities to contribute immediately were obviously going to be there on a 2-14 team, yet what the Colts have managed to get so far from their most recent draft class reminds me a whole lot of what the Texans got from their Class of '06. As Houston's 2006 draft was one of the best anywhere in recent memory, that's high praise.
Coming into this year, I thought the Colts would finish second in the AFC South. I thought they'd top out at seven or, if things really went their way, eight wins. As they prepare to face the Texans for the first time in 2012, they're 9-4 and in the driver's seat for the No. 5 seed in the AFC Playoffs. Regardless of whether you put a lot of stock into the breaks going Indianapolis' way far more than they normally would, that's impressive. And it's only the beginning. If you had any dreams of the Texans sitting atop the AFC South without any real challenge for the next few years, I'd caution you to reevaluate your position. After a one-year hiatus, the Colts are back.
Well, almost back. They ain't winning on Sunday. On to the predictions!
1. Houston will come out running, and they'll run all game long. Arian Foster finds the end zone for the seventeenth time this year and breaks the century mark on the ground for the first time in three weeks. Ben Tate adds a TD of his own (his first since Week Two) and finishes with 54 yards rushing.
2. Matt Schaub throws for 259 yards, two TDs, and doesn't turn the ball over. A vocal group of fans continue to claim that he's a choke artist who can't get it done in the big games. The rest of us shake our heads and wait for January.
3. For all his talent, Andrew Luck has thrown 13 interceptions on the road this year (compared to only 5 picks at home). He's going to be picked off twice on Sunday (Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson), and...wait for it...one of those will be returned for a touchdown.
PUT YOUR NAME ON IT: Two months ago, the Texans were pantsed in front of a national television audience in much the same way they were on Monday night. They responded rather impressively the following week against Baltimore. Despite my affection for/fear of Andrew Luck, I expect a strong performance from the good guys on Sunday at Reliant. While the Colts will move the ball, the Texans will move it more frequently and with greater success. The AFC South title stays in Houston, and the dream of homefield advantage throughout the AFC Playoffs stays alive another week. Colts 20, Texans 35.