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Quick Hits: Houston Texans vs Indianapolis Colts Preview

In DeMeco We Trust.

Indianapolis Colts v Houston Texans Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

This Saturday night, on national television, the Houston Texans travel to take on the Indianapolis Colts for a “win and in, lose and go home” game of epic proportions. This marks the 44th time the rival franchises have met, with the Colts taking 32 of those matchups, including five of the last seven. They last matchup, on September 17th at NRG stadium, the Baby Horses won, 31-20.

On paper this is anybody’s game. Both teams are vastly improved from their 2022 versions, both have rookie coaches, both have quarterbacks with over 3,000 passing yards this year and both have wide receivers with over 1,000 receiving yards so far.

The Texans offense is averaging 22.1 points per game and their defense is surrendering 20.9.

The Colts offense is averaging 23.6 points per game and their defense is surrendering 24.5.

Houston sits with a +9 turnover differential, while Indy has a +3.

Other stats for your consumption:

Yahoo Sports

Both teams rely on minimizing turnovers. Houston commits the fewest in the league (less than 1 per game) and is No. 4 in turnover margin. The Colts are 11th in turnover margin.

The Texans are 10th in the NFL in total offense, gaining 344.6 yards per game. The Colts allow 352.6 yards (24th).

Houston struggles on 4th-down plays, converting 40% (31st), though the Colts allow conversions on 68% of 4th-down plays (30th).

Houston is strong defensively against the run (3.3 yards per carry, 2nd; 88.5 yards per game, 3rd) but allows opponents 68.2% completions (30th). The Colts complete 62.2% of their throws (26th).

The Texans are currently favored by one, which may change by game time, but likely not by much.

That means the X-factors will determine the outcome of this game.

With rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud, the X-factor is there is spades. He definitely has IT and his recent concussion didn’t change that.

Texans’ head coach DeMeco Ryans also has IT, in spades.

One stat that proves the effectiveness of Ryans young tenure? The Houston Texans have sent more players to the injured reserve list in 2023 than any other NFL team, yet are still knocking on the playoff door, with a chance to win the AFC South.

While general manager Nick Caserio has done a great job building a competitive roster, Ryans ability to inspire the next man up and ensure his players are in a position to succeed has kept this team in the hunt.

Unfortunately, Ryans and Stroud aren’t the only X-factors for Saturday night’s game.

On the Indy side of things, running back Jonathan Taylor has cemented himself in the same conversation as Derrick Henry when it comes to running all over the Texans in recent years. If Ryans and the Houston defense can neutralize Taylor the way they nullified Henry this season, the Baby Horses won’t be galloping very far.

HOUSTON TEXANS WEEK 18 STATS

QB C.J. STROUD (rookie) completed 24 of 32 attempts (career-high 75 pct.) for 213 yards & TD vs. zero INTs with 102.7 rating last week, seventh game with 100+ rating. Aims for his fifth in row overall with zero INTs & has zero INTs in five of six road starts. Passed for 384 yards & two TDs vs. zero INTs with 103.5 rating in Week 2 meeting. Has eight TDs (seven pass, one rush) vs. zero INTs with 109.6 rating in four starts vs. division. Needs 156 pass yards to become fifth rookie in NFL history with 4,000+ pass yards.

RB DEVIN SINGLETARY rushed for 80 yards last week, fourth straight game with 60+ scrimmage yards. Has 396 scrimmage yards (132 per game) over his past three on road. Needs 74 scrimmage yards for new career high (1,099 in 2022 w/ Buffalo Bills).

WR NICO COLLINS led team with seven catches for 80 yards last week, seventh game this season with 80+ receiving yards, tied third-most in AFC. Has 80+ receiving yards in three of his four games vs. division this season. Had seven catches for 146 yards & TD in Week 2 meeting.

WR NOAH BROWN has 50+ receiving yards in three of his past four on road. Has career-best 567 receiving yards this season.

WR ROBERT WOODS had 58 receiving yards last week. Had six catches for season-high 74 yards in Week 2 meeting.

TE DALTON SCHULTZ has 55+ receiving yards in two of past three games.

TE BREVIN JORDAN had fifth-career TD catch in Week 17.

CB DESMOND KING aims for fourth in row with 8+ tackles & third in row with PD. Has two TFL in two of past three games.

CB DEREK STINGLEY had six tackles & TFL last week. Has 2+ PD in five of his past seven games. Since Week 11, ranks second in NFL with 12 PD.

DE WILL ANDERSON (rookie) had two sacks last week & has 2+ sacks in two of his past three games. Has seven sacks, most-ever by Texans rookie.

DE DEREK BARNETT had season-high six tackles & 1.5 sacks in Week 17. Aims for fifth in row with TFL & has sack in two of past three games.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS WEEK 18 STATS

QB GARDNER MINSHEW completed 15 of 23 attempts (65.2%) for 224 yards & TD vs. zero INTs with 111.5 rating last week. Aims for third in row at home with zero INTs & 110+ rating. Has 90+ rating in three of four career games vs. Houston Texans, with 112.1 rating in Week 2 meeting. Aims for third in row vs. division with 300+ pass yards. Needs 108 pass yards for new career high (3,271 in 2019 w/ Jacksonville Jaguars).

RB JONATHAN TAYLOR had 104 scrimmage (season-high 96 rush, 8 receptions) & rush TD last week, second 100-yard game this season. Aims for his sixth game in row with TD. Has 412 scrimmage yards (103 per game) & four rushing TDs in his past four games at home. Has 706 scrimmage yards (141.2 per game) & seven TDs (six rush, one receiving) in five career games vs. Houston, with 95+ scrimmage yards & TD in each game.

RB ZACK MOSS had second TD catch of season last week. Has 55+ scrimmage yards in three of past four. Has rush TD in each of three career games vs. Houston, with 100+ scrimmage yards in two of three games. Has rush TD in three of four games vs. division this season. Needs 44 scrimmage yards for first-career 1,000-yard season.

WR MICHAEL PITTMAN had 12th game with 5+ catches last week, tied fpurth-most in NFL. Has 75+ receiving yards in five of his past six. Had eight catches for 56 yards in Week 2 meeting & has receiving TD in two of his past three vs. Houston. Is third WR in franchise history with 100+ catches (104) in a season (HOFers Marvin Harrison & Reggie Wayne).

LB ZAIRE FRANKLIN aims for fourth in row with PD & third in row with 10+ tackles. Has 10+ tackles in six of eight home games this season. Had 13 tackles & TFL in Week 2 meeting. Leads NFL with career-best 170 tackles in 2023.

LB E.J. SPEED aims for fourth in row with 10+ tackles.

DT DEFOREST BUCKNER had sack last week. Had two TFL & sack in Week 2 meeting. Is one of three in NFL with 7+ sacks in each past six seasons.

Not sure the modern Houston Texans have faced a bigger game than this one. Win and they're in the playoffs. And if the Tennessee Titans can take out the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday (not likely), Houston will capture yet another AFC South division title.

NFL Communications

SPOTLIGHT – TEAM MATCHUP: HOUSTON (9-7) and INDIANAPOLIS (9-7) will take the first step toward breaking the logjam atop the AFC South when they meet on Saturday (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN/ABC). The winner will also capture the division if JACKSONVILLE (9-7) loses at TENNESSEE (5-11) on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, CBS). The team that loses on Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium is eliminated from playoff contention. Regardless, the Jaguars can lock up a second straight South division title with a win over the Titans.

Saturday’s matchup spotlights two of the league’s most remarkable turnaround stories this season. Houston rookie head coach DEMECO RYANS with a victory would improve his team’s record by seven wins compared to 2022, when the Texans finished 3-13-1. Colts rookie head coach SHANE STEICHEN with a victory would improve his club’s record by six wins compared to last year, when Indianapolis was 4-12-1. Last week, Steichen became the seventh rookie head coach since 2019 to improve his team’s record by five-or-more wins, joining Ryans (plus-six in 2023), BRIAN DABOLL (plus-five in 2022), KEVIN O’CONNELL (plus-five in 2022), NICK SIRIANNI (plus-five in 2021), KEVIN STEFANSKI (plus-five in 2020) and MATT LAFLEUR (plus-seven in 2019).

#InDemecoWeTrust

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