1. During last week's television broadcast of the Colts' game against the Jaguars, the announcers repeatedly made mention of how Matt Hasselbeck told them he'd start the game but was unsure if he'd finish it due his physical condition entering the contest. Hasselbeck then proceeded to take a beating from the Jaguars' defense before eventually being forced out of the game. He was seen wearing a sling earlier this week.
Unfortunately for Colts fans, I think a similar fate is in store for their QB at the hands of the Texans. While all signs point to Hasselbeck starting on Sunday, I think we're going to see Charlie Whitehurst before the game is over, and I'm not talking about Chuck Pagano pulling Hasselbeck because the Colts are blowing the Texans out. Hasselbeck is a tough dude, but he's admitted he's already having trouble breathing without pain, and that's before he has to deal with J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Whitney Mercilus up in his kitchen. Even with Anthony Castonzo returning to the Colts' starting lineup to protect the blind side, Hasselbeck's going to get hit. Two turnovers are in the offing from the Colts' QB--one fumble and one interception.
2. When these two teams met last, Jaelen Strong, in the first NFL game in which he was active, rose up for two touchdowns out of nowhere. Strong hasn't done much since then, which puts him in the same camp as Andre Johnson. Since his six catch, two touchdown, 77 yard performance against the Texans on Thursday Night Football in Week Five, 'Dre has posted one touchdown and a total of 258 yards. While I don't expect Strong to come close to duplicating his last performance, I do expect the Colts to force the ball to 'Dre with moderate success, culminating in Andre Johnson's fourth touchdown catch of the year.
3. Staying on the topic of wide receivers, DeAndre Hopkins is coming off one of the rare unproductive games he's had this season. Last time he tangled with the Colts, Nuk posted a season-high 11 catches for a season-high 169 yards, albeit while being kept out of the end zone. If we've seen one thing in the brief amount of time T.J. Yates has been under center for the good guys this year, it's that he looks for Hopkins and Hopkins responds with numbers. In fact, they've each said as much.
"Absolutely, 100 percent trust in that guy," Yates said. "You throw it up in the vicinity with that guy and he will go and get it for you, so that is something that we have to go and do. We have to get him the ball."
"All he did was throw it up and I came down with a completion," Hopkins recalled. "The history that we have, that’s kind of how it’s been with us."
Although it was Brian Hoyer flinging the ball to him against the Colts last time, I foresee another big game for Hopkins this week. Mark him down for 8 receptions, 109 yards, and 2 TDs, one of which will come on a 40+ yard play.
PUT YOUR NAME ON IT: The Texans' winless streak in Indianapolis ends Sunday. Admittedly, I harbor some trepidation that Houston will still find a way to botch a playoff berth by subsequently losing to Jacksonville in Week 16, but that's a worry for another day. Give me Texans 23, Colts 21. T.J. Yates, DeAndre Hopkins, and Houston's defense will prevail against an ailing Colts squad.
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