While I did get the whole "Texans will lose" thing right last week, I kinda sorta missed on the "Texans will get embarrassed to the point that you actively start turning away from the television because watching any more of it makes you physically ill" angle. As Bill O'Brien might say, I gotta get better. Gotta do a better job of making predictions. It starts with me. And like our colorful head coach, I'm moving on to the Colts.
Thursday Night Football is in Houston this week, which means "Three and Out" will ruin your Thursday lunch hour instead of your Friday happy hour. The predictions of my co-captains on the Ship of Fools that is BRB will be posted for your dissection later this afternoon. Until then, here are mine.
1. I lead with this gem from the game capsule earlier this week:
Houston running back Arian Foster, who made his season debut last week, looks to continue his career success against Indianapolis. Since entering the league in 2009, Foster leads the AFC with 53 rushing touchdowns and an average of 86.6 rushing yards per game, including 960 yards (120 per game) and eight touchdowns in eight career match-ups against the Colts.
Although he didn't play much last week in his return from groin surgery, I expect Arian Foster to be the focal point of Houston's offense tonight due to (1) his overall excellence; (2) his pronounced history of success against the Colts; and/or (3) a desire to keep Ryan Mallett from having to do too much. I think we see vintage Arian tonight. I'm calling for 124 rushing yards, 47 receiving yards, and 2 TDs.
2. There hasn't been much made of Andre Johnson's return to NRG Stadium this week. That silence and general indifference would have seemed difficult to comprehend after the Texans cut the best player in their franchise's history only to see him sign with a divisional rival back in March. Then again, I don't suppose there's a reason to spill much virtual ink over a player whose performance through four games looks like this. Whether you think 'Dre is done or not, it's still amazing that he hasn't caught a ball the last two weeks and has only had three passes thrown his way since Week 3 began.
For all the talk about how he doesn't want to "get back" at the Texans, or that he doesn't harbor any resentment toward his former employer, you know Andre Johnson desperately wants to come up big at his former stomping grounds this evening. I don't think he's going to explode, but I do think he somehow manages to find the end zone and has his best game of the season. I say he posts four catches for 31 yards and a TD.
3. With Andrew Luck still ailing and a sick Matt Hasselbeck reportedly starting at QB for the Colts tonight, logic would seem to dictate that Frank Gore will be leaned on. Add in the fact that the Texans were totally gashed on the ground in losses to the Panthers and Falcons (really, the only game you could squint at and say Houston wasn't bad against the run was the win over the Buccaneers), and it makes even more sense for Gore to get a bunch of carries.
Here's the thing, though. On balance, Frank Gore has not looked good this year. He did average more than six yards a carry in the Colts' win over the Titans in Week 3, but look at his production in the other three games. I think the Texans will handle Gore, and I predict he'll average less than four yards a carry tonight.
PUT YOUR NAME ON IT: After the shellacking the Texans took last week, I could not fathom picking them to beat the Colts in a primetime game, even against a limited Andrew Luck. As bad as he's played this year, Andrew Luck is special, and T.Y. Hilton has owned the Texans like Arian Foster has dominated the Colts. Indeed, I still think Hilton gets behind the secondary for a TD tonight; that's what he does and Houston's safety play has left much to be desired.
But the Colts without Luck? Thus with a feverish Matt Hasselbeck under center? Crack on the Texans all you want--they deserve it with how they've looked for the first quarter of the season--but the Colts without Andrew Luck are a bad football team. Indianapolis has to go on the road, on a short week, without their best player. If the Texans lose this game, the wheels will be off the 2015 season. I don't think that happens tonight. Texans 21, Colts 17.
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