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Five Good Texans Questions with Stampede Blue

Chris Shepard of Stampede Blue joins BRB for Five Questions.

Syndication: The Corpus Christi Caller Times Denny Simmons / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK

You kind of knew that it would have to come down to this. The schedule makers get a lot of things wrong (the prime time schedule) but this is one of the things they do well. Every year there is a divisional game that means the difference between the playoffs and an early vacation. So, the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts get the Saturday prime time slot. The NFL has finally given the people what they want.

While the players and traditional pundits may breathe fire and brimstone for matchups like this, the Vox Media/SBNation family is one big happy group of like-minded bloggers. Chris Shepard over at Stampede Blue has been a regular of this feature and it one of the more enjoyable people to do this with. We caught up with him again, since it was week two the last time these two teams met. They are almost like two different teams at this point.

Battle Red Blog: In addition to a playoff berth, this game likely decides the winner of the Coach of the year award. What have you seen from this staff that you haven’t seen from past ones?

Chris Shepard: I’ll die on the hill of Frank Reich’s 2017 coach of the year candidacy. He should have won the award then. But if we’re talking about what Steichen has done that Reich did not, I would say that Steichen is better at adapting his system to his talent. Reich always got there but it always took too much time to get everyone going in the same direction. Steichen came in and got results on day one. The offense has expanded as time has gone on and while it’s absolutely limited compared to what we would be seeing with Anthony Richardson, the offense is fully fleshed out and Indy is able to add wrinkles they want rather than still trying to iron out kinks that might otherwise still maddeningly exist.

BRB: The Colts have been in constant search of a QB for a number of years. What does Gardner Minshew bring that those other guys didn’t?

CS: Absolutely nothing.

BRB: Who are some guys that have emerged since the week two matchup that we should know about?

CS: Josh Downs is a really good slot receiver who wins quick and has sure hands. On defense, safety Nick Cross has finally been given an opportunity to play after nearly two years of watching games on the sidelines, inexplicably and Cross has played well. He isn’t a finished product but he files around and is a lot of fun to watch.

BRB: Which team from the South do Colts fans enjoy beating the most?

CS: The Titans. Their fans online are the absolute worst in the NFL.

BRB: The Colts are slight favorites on DraftKings Sportsbook. How do you see the game going? Are there any prop bets you feel comfortable recommending?

CS: The Colts have been fairly easy to predict after their bye. Each week I ask Stampede Blue’s analytics guy (T. Troy Russell) how he grades out that week’s opponent against the run. His numbers (I believe) differ somewhat from other analytic rankings you can find and after dozens of arguments with him that have led to a mutual respect and a better understanding of his process, I trust his numbers. When Troy tells me that a team ranks well against the run, that’s it. Game over. Minshew can’t win when he doesn’t have a run game. On the other hand when a team struggles according to Troy’s numbers, without fail, the Colts have won.

This week Troy has the Texans as the 13th best run stopping unit in the league- which means this is going to be a really tough, but not insurmountable game for the Colts offense. Minshew will have to play better than he does most weeks which, frankly, isn’t something I feel great hoping for. The fact that the Texans are good but not dominant on the ground does give me some hope, but not much. I think the 1 point spread is fair but I assume the line will move a lot as the week progresses and it wouldn’t surprise me if Houston is a couple point favorite by the time the game kicks off.

It’s still really early in the week and not too many lines have come out yet but if I were going to place a bet on this game based on the options I currently have available the over/under on this game according to DraftKings is 47.5 points, I’d take the over and not look back.

I’d like to thank Chris for being so professional and responsive in both week two and week eighteen this year. Even though most Texans fans hate the Colts, that feeling doesn’t extend past the field and the stadium for us. We want to wish Chris and the Colts the best of luck and hope they have a tremendous offseason.