On Sunday, the 7-4 Indianapolis Colts will presumably come to NRG Stadium angry and ready to take out their frustrations on the 4-7 Houston Texans . The Titans laid hands all over the Colts in Indy’s own home stadium last weekend as Tennessee won big 45-26. Meanwhile, the Texans are coming off their most satisfying win of the season, a 41-25 beatdown of the Lions in Detroit on Thanksgiving Day.
That said, all those happy feelings from a Texans blowout win were short lived, as two of their best players, WR Will Fuller V and CB Bradley Roby were suspended for the next six games due to PED use (UGH). No Roby against T.Y. Hilton? Oh boy, good times. Let’s see how the BRB staff sees Sunday’s matchup playing out.
Tim: Texans 28, Colts 27.
It’s easy to miss, what with the soul-crushing win-loss record during a catastrophic year and all, but Deshaun Watson is becoming ELITE right in front of our eyes this season. He won’t have Will Fuller or Randall Cobb to target on Sunday, but I still say he finds a way to will his team to victory, likely via a ton of crossing routes and slants to his tight ends and Keke Coutee. DW4 will be helped in this endeavor by Philip Rivers, who, despite getting to play a bad defense that just got markedly worse thanks to Bradley Roby’s decision to dabble in illegal pharmaceuticals, is somehow going to turn the ball over twice. The Texans win a nail-biter.
Matt Weston: Colts 30, Texans 20.
I don’t see Houston replacing Will Fuller with Isiah Coulter or Steven Mitchell Jr. Get ready for a lot of two and three tight end sets. Jordan Akins, Pharoah Brown, Darren Fells, and—while I hold my life size pillow of a water polo player, I hope, oh God, I hope—Kahale Warring. The Texans have the worst run offense in the NFL by DVOA. Get ready for the drag-flat read pass option offense, the same crappy offense Bill O’Brien wanted to make the staple of this team entering the 2020 NFL season. It’s the exact type of offense that won’t work against an offense with speed at linebacker and safety like the Colts have.
The Colts’ run game has been crappy this year, but they may finally have a great run game. Jonathan Taylor is back, Nyheim Hines is someone Houston can’t cover. Jordan Wilkins is a fine backup. That being said, Indy’s backs have had distorted vision and haven’t been able to get enough of what their offensive line gives them. Having Anthony Castonzo miss an extended period of time, which will include Sunday’s game, hasn’t helped things.
Indianapolis’ passing offense is a lot of crossing routes, Philip Rivers hollering and throwing plastic bags in the wind, and pretty corner routes. They don’t have a real vertical passing game. Every completion is a gift downfield. T.Y. Hilton doesn’t have the same speed as previous years; Rivers’ floaty passes hurt him and create contested catches, something that doesn’t work for the Colts.
I hate the Colts, but without Fuller and Bradley Roby, they’re going to sweep Houston this year. It would take a heroic performance from Deshaun Watson to pull this off with either Fuller or Roby out. With both out, it’s an impossibility.
Chris: Colts 30, Texans 27.
I was ready to pick the upset for the Texans as they ride the wave of Deshaun Watson’s undeniable greatness to being a sneaky tough (offensive) matchup for teams down the stretch. But this Will Fuller thing is big. I wish it wasn’t so, but the numbers bear out a big difference in offensive production with and without Will Fuller. That said, Watson is playing better than he ever has, so maybe this will not be as drastic of an impact as we fear. My hope is that Keke Coutee will re-emerge as a legit weapon, and maybe Jordan Akins’ star can finally rise.
If the Texans’ defense wasn’t so bad, I might be tempted to go with my gut and stick with my upset prediction, but I just feel like this team may crash back to Earth a little bit this week against a solid Colts defense and without their most dynamic (non-Watson) offensive weapon.
On top of all this, you lose Bradley Roby who was the best corner on a terrible defense; how much worse could the defense possibly get? Well, maybe not too much worse, but let me remind you Texans murderer T.Y. Hilton, who is not even ON the injury report this week, appears poised to continue his role as a large-stake owner of the Houston Texans on Sunday.
Mike: Colts 31, Texans 23.
Even though the Texans still have Brandin Cooks and Keke Coutee is feeling his oats, I don’t see Deshaun Watson having enough around him to overcome a much better Indianapolis Colts team. And let’s face it, it’s not like Watson can rely on Houston’s defense to save his bacon - or even make his life easier with lots of three and outs or takeaways.
This is the game where the current H-Town Hope Bubble bursts and the Texans are exposed for what they are: the product of the worst ownership decision in recent NFL memory (e.g., not firing Bill O’Brien after the Chiefs playoff debacle and giving him GM duties to bot). The 2020 Houston Texans are is perfectly designed to get a coach fired, and that level of production is what we’ll see this weekend.
bfMFd: Clots 34, Texans 20.
One of the funniest things about this season is that Bill O’Brien sacrificed the defense and passing game in order to establish the run. With the 32nd ranked rushing offense, Tim Kelly has been smart enough to stop trying to run the damn ball, and the Texans have their first above average offense in years, all because of Deshaun Watson.
Now? With Brandin Cooks, who has been okay this year, and Randall Cobb, who has tried vainly to play football, as Watson’s top two WR targets (and Cobb’s on IR), this offense is simply going to choke due to the lack of oxygen.
The Texans won’t be able to score, and they sure won’t be able to stop the Clots.
Kenneth L.: Texans 31, Colts 24 (OT).
I wrote an article earlier this week about how the Texans are ripe to surprise the Colts, so I guess I must lie in the bed I made. I do still think the Texans can do it; they’ve just made the job a lot harder for themselves.
Without Will Fuller, the Houston Texans may be, well, hamstrung. It’s a quite unfortunate timing as the offense was looking the best it has all season. It’s a disappointing thing when the Texans get in their own way. The problem is that they are continually stumbling over themselves.
What will be interesting is if Jonathan Taylor can play and how the Colts approach the run game. Taylor has been activated off the COVID list and would be a tough load for this defense to handle. Nyhiem Hines is one of the best receiving RBs out of the backfield as well; he catches a ton of passes. I can see Eric Murray having to cover Hines him as a pseudo linebacker.
Overall and top to bottom, the Colts are a better team. No doubt. However, this week, the Texans will upset the Colts.
It’s a mixed bag. I think a lot of us would be picking Houston were it not for these suspensions. How do you see this one going, faithful BRB readers? Please use the comments below to predict the outcome. Above all else - enjoy the game!