The Houston Texans (4-9) are relegated to the spoiler role as they visit the Indianapolis Colts (9-4), who are in the thick of the AFC playoff hunt. After an absurd and ugly loss to the Bears in Chicago last week, Deshaun Watson and the Texans will look to bounce back and thwart Indy’s division title chase.
These infuriating Jekyll and Hyde Texans have only three games remaining to audition for their future head coach and general manager. It’s sad to not have playoff football to look forward to, but I remain excited to watch Deshaun work his magic (without being splattered) and to see what J.J. Watt does with these last few games. I know we hate to think about this, but there’s at least a chance J.J. is playing his last few games for Houston. I know there is trade speculation swirling about him, but I could see a scenario where he simply retires even though he’s on record this season as saying he feels like he’s got a few good years left.
As usual, I digress. Let’s see how the BRB staff sees Sunday’s match-up shaking out.
Matt Weston: Colts 34, Texans 24.
The Colts have found some offensive mojo since last playing Houston a couple of weeks ago. I wish I could play this Texans’ defense. T.Y. Hilton has had two great games working the slot. The run game was finally working for Indy last week, thanks to some hilarious defensive play calls from Las Vegas; talent usually wins out. Houston is going to trot Phillip Gaines and Vernon Hargreaves III at corner out again. They’ll struggle to get a pass rush. It’s going to be brutal.
Offensively, the Texans should be able to do some things since Brandin Cooks is back. Get Jordan Akins and Darren Fells out of the wide receiver position. By going five wide, Houston can stretch Indianapolis’s defense horizontally and find holes in the zone. I think Indy will do a better job understanding Tim Kelly’s route combinations this time, and they should blitz more often to attack an offensive line that is still dumbfounded by E-T stunts.
KITTEN. They can do that?
Diehard Chris: Colts 24, Texans 23.
This just feels like a “Deshaun Watson has too much pride to get skunked two weeks in a row” game to me. I know Deshaun isn’t in control of all things, but I just feel like this game will be closer than we anticipate. The Colts lead most of the game, but the Texans will make it tantalizingly close at the end. Deshaun runs for his life all day long, and the Texans’ defense somehow holds its own.
This is based on absolutely nothing but feeeeelings.
l4blitzer: Colts 31, Texans 14.
For the first time since 2017, the Texans face the last quarter of the NFL with absolutely zero meaningful games. The 2017 season could be taken as an aberration, in that the team suffered so many injuries, but also had the tantalizing promise of Watson and a quick return to competing once everyone healed up. For 2020, with key injuries really not the problem at this point, it is a darker time. Seems like the team all but quit last week (didn’t help that a weak team found out days before it would be without two of its key weapons for the rest of the year). With zero to play for, pride or not, I just don’t see this team rising to the challenge to face off against a Colts team that still had a ton to play for (NFL Playoffs, AFC South championship, etc).
Matters might be even more stacked against the Texans if recent news reports confirm that several key players, including Watson and Tunsil, violated COVID-19 protocols to attend a restaurant opening. Come what may out of that one, the Colts should be in great position to make life tough for the weak and listless Texans. It won’t matter if Nick Martin folds on the last snap; this game will not get to that point.
Wouldn’t surprise me to see a lot more backups and practice squad players see more snaps. May as well find out what you have. Normally, the words, “Now under center, AJ McCarron” would fill me with dread, but at this point in the year, I would be okay if he actually took more snaps than Deshaun. Not that Deshaun will deliberately try to get out of playing the games, but if there is a remote injury concern (and given the potential fury the Colts’ D-Line could inflict on the Texans’ O-line, that is not a far-fetched proposition), Watson could be saved for the future.
Mike: Colts 37, Texans 17.
If this Texans defense can make Mitch Trubisky look like an All-Star, imagine what it can offer Philip Rivers? T.Y. Hilton is going to have the best game of the season, Jonathan Taylor is going to look like Emmitt Smith. Houston’s D will get embarrassed in back-to-back weeks.
Hopefully, once the game gets out of hand, Romeo Crennel will re-think his “I’m not pulling Deshaun Watson because we’re playing to win” statement and keep DW4 injury-free.
Kenneth L.: Colts 27, Texans 13.
I bet my friend who is a Colts fan the net line of the two games would be Colts -10. That is still in play, but heading into this game, it feels highly unlikely. The Colts are knee-deep in the playoff race and the Texans are deciding if they want to even continue playing.
After last week’s performance, it wouldn’t surprise me if the game ended with a blowout. Look for the Colts to keep it simple and lean on Jonathan Taylor to break the spirit of the Texans.
Tim: Colts 27, Texans 21.
I remain skeptical of the Colts having success in the postseason, but the Bears simply destroyed the Texans last week. The only reason to have hope is Deshaun Watson; while that may well be enough, it’s difficult to look past the glaring deficiency of the Texans’ defense and a surging Jonathan Taylor. I’ll take the playoff team at home over the one that currently starts no more than three players who’d start for another NFL defense.
One of only three sweet, precious NFL games left. As awful as this season has been, I always miss football SO much when it’s gone. Regardless of the standings, I’m always excited to watch the Texans*.
How do you see this one playing out, faithful readers? Use the comments section to share your game predictions, what you are still excited to watch in these last few games, and as a bonus - Do you feel Watson should be shelved for the rest of the season, simply to preserve his health?
*Excitement varies based on health and availability of Deshaun Watson.