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Three and Out: Texans-Colts Predictions

Battle Red Blog gathers to predict Sunday’s AFC South matchup between the Houston Texans and the Indianapolis Colts from Lucas Oil Stadium.

Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

After the 40-0 curb-stomp Buffalo laid on Houston the week prior, the Texans appear determined to give us a full gamut of interesting losses in 2021. Last week they choked away a 22-9 third quarter lead to the New England Patriots, a game that otherwise featured quite an impressive performance by Texans rookie QB Davis Mills.

This week, the Texans travel to Indianapolis to take on the Colts. Much like the Texans (but to a lesser degree) I have no idea what to make of that team. But let’s not trouble ourselves with that. Instead, let’s trouble ourselves with predicting this game.

Matt Weston: Colts 31, Texans 13.

I’m not buying last week’s version of Davis Mills. Although throwing down the sideline with touch was his best skill in college, I don’t think two of the throws he made against the Patriots were replicable, and the other deep pass was a flea flicker. That said, this is the opponent for lightning to strike again. The Colts can’t defend vertical passes, and they can’t stay on top of their routes. Last week it was Xavier Rhodes and Anthony Chesley. This week Rock Ya-Sin may be back, but he has had the same problems defending vertical passes throughout his career. Indy’s two high shells involve Anderson Sendejo, bleached blonde and manic, who, like Khari Willis, can be picked on like the rest of them. Brandin Cooks could have a great vertical game on Sunday if Mills is for real.

The Colts can mash the run, though. Their young pass rushing prospects never learned how to rush the passer, but damn, Kemoko Turay, Al Quadin-Muhammed, and Tyquan Lewis have banded together with Grover Steward, and DeForest Buckner to crush the run. Behind them Darius Leonard and Bobby Okereke run through the plains and make easy chase and tackles, with Kenny Moore attacking from the slot. Houston, despite a new offensive line coach and all their investment in that position group, is still a terrible running team. Mark Ingram is 38th in run DVOA, and he’s the Texans’ best running back. Houston is 32nd in run offense after failing to run against a crappy New England run defense. This game is all on Mills.

Carson Wentz can turn great pass protection into the apocalypse. He holds onto the ball forever, staring and waiting before flailing around in the pocket. The Colts are built around crossing routes and screen passes, both route combinations that should hypothetically be stopped by a Cover Two defense. Even though they have walked away from their first base defense some, the Texans could run it more this week, opening the door for Zach Pascal corner routes. The Texans will probably play Cover Three to load the box and stop Jonathan Taylor and Indy’s electric outside zone game, meaning more posts and slants, with the middle of the field wide open off play action.

For Houston to win, Mills has to hit a couple of deep passes, and the Texans’ defense has to force two or three turnovers. Can they do it? Sure. I’m just buying Taylor and Houston smashing their run game into a wall of Colts defenders, similar to their games against Carolina and Buffalo.

Tim: Colts 24, Texans 16.

I would love to believe that Davis Mills’ performance against the Patriots was the launching point to greatness. In reality, however, progress is rarely positively linear. While his unit has not performed well on balance this year, I imagine Matt Eberflus will be able to scheme some confusion and force a bad throw or three from Mills.

On the other side of the ball, Jonathan Taylor should feast. Carson Wentz will provide a turnover or two to Lovie Smith’s charges, but it won’t be enough for the good guys to win on the road.

What I’ll be focused on: How many extra points and/or field goals will Ka’imi Fairbairn miss on Sunday? Is there a number that would result in the Texans cutting him next week?

l4blitzer: Colts 20, Texans 16.

That the Texans are 1-4 is no surprise. One could argue that they are better than expected, as the Texans have been underdogs in every game this year. That the Colts are 1-4 is far more of a surprise. Granted, the Colts have played four 2020 playoff teams and beat the Dolphins, who won 10 games last year.

Still, this is not where Indy thought they would be. After blowing a multi-score second half lead to Baltimore, the Colts find themselves in a bad place. Sometimes we can overhype things, but for the Colts, this game has to qualify as a must-win. They are two games back of the Titans and the Titans have a head-to-head win in hand. The AFC does not figure to have many weak wild cards, so the road to the NFL Playoffs for the Colts will most likely have to come via a division title.

On paper, the Colts have better overall talent and prior to the actual playing of the season, I pegged this one as a surefire Texans loss. Now…the Texans are likely to be behind when the clock hits 00:00, but the Texans will be the looser team. The Colts got a good performance from Carson Wentz for once last week, but the pressure is all on them. That can make for a tight team, leading to a lot of mistakes and bad plays.

I think the Colts’ talent overtakes the Texans eventually, but the possibility of an upset win for the Texans is more than just wishful thinking.

Kenneth: Colts 17, Texans 12.

The Texans should get out to an early lead here. The Colts aren’t good and lack offensive weapons. Jonathan Taylor is coming into his own as a running back, which as a fantasy owner of his I will say is quite nice.

There’s a lot of back and forth about Mills going back and forth. Indianapolis’ defense isn’t elite, but they can certainly rush the passer. I don’t expect Houston’s run game to be as bad as it was las week, but I have no reason to think they will do any better.

I’m predicting a field goal frenzy. We’ll be frustrated with another close loss but the contest should be worth your attention for four quarters.

Mike: Colts 24, Texans 15.

Davis Mills comes crashing back down to earth while T.Y. “Texans Killer” Hilton goes off against a terrible secondary. Houston’s run game is even worse than it already is (how is that possible?) without Laremy Tunsil, and the Texans have to rely on the All Field Goal Offense just to make the game seem competitive, even though it won’t be anything of the sort.

After nearly beating the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night, the baby horses are due for a win. Lucky for them, David Culley, Nick Caserio and Jack McEasterby need to keep losing - and they’ve proven very adept at it so far in 2021.

Another ugly game in an ugly season in an ugly era for H-Town pro football. The Houston Roughnecks can’t come back fast enough.

Chris: Colts 20, Texans 17.

I think the Texans will hang tough in this one. Davis Mills will struggle, and the Texans will play better on defense than expected. Without Laremy Tunsil at left tackle, it may be a rough go for the passing game, but Tunsil isn’t a good run blocker and Houston can’t run the ball anyway, so how much worse could that possibly get?

The Texans hang around and our overpaid, average-at-best kicker, whose name shall not be typed by these fingers, will miss a game-tying FG with under two minutes remaining.

bfMFd: Colts 23, Texans 13.

I don’t think what Davis Mills did against the Patriots last week is sustainable. The opening drive of 18 plays is an outlier for any drive. Jason McCourty completely butchered his coverage of Chris Moore on that long touchdown pass, and the Patriots couldn’t have covered me on Sunday. Plus, Mills has never shown that kind of arm talent, and that’s not the kind of thing that turns on overnight.

If you buy the Davis hype from last Sunday, fine, but I am going to short that performance. As we’ve seen over the past couple of years, betting against the Texans is always a winning proposition.

The Colts have TY Hilton and Jonathan Taylor, and we won’t be able to stop either one, relatively speaking.

The game on Sunday is going to, once again, be full of the ugly and stupid. You have been duly warned.

This should be a competitive game. Maybe? The Colts, who are not good, opened as a 10 point favorite, which seems excessive. Use the comments section to predict Sunday’s game, and let’s see what this crazy Houston Texans fan existence takes us in our latest chapter.