3 keys to Texans-Colts wild card playoff game

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HOUSTON – The Houston Texans will face a division foe in the playoffs for the first time when they host the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday at 3:35 p.m. at NRG Stadium. 

The two teams split their regular-season meetings, with the Texans winning 37-34 in overtime in Indianapolis in Week 4 and the Colts winning 24-21 in Houston in Week 14. 

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck will be making his seventh postseason start but first since 2014. His Colts have split those six games. Texans second-year quarterback Deshaun Watson will be making his postseason debut after a spectacular regular season.

Watson finished third in the AFC in passer rating (103.1), tossing 26 touchdown passes and just nine interceptions. He also rushed for 551 yards and five touchdowns. 

The play of the quarterback in the postseason goes a long way toward winning and advancing, and that’s where this starts with the keys to victory for the Texans.

1. Texans must run the ball effectively. 

They need to get the offense into manageable distance on second and third down, especially early in the game, and that will come from running the football, most likely. Houston ran for just 3.5 yards per carry in their two games against the Colts this season. Having Watson more integrated into the rushing attack is likely and helpful. If Keke Coutee is active -- and that appears likely for the first time in six weeks -- that will also take some of Colts' focus away from the run game.

Only four of the 47 carries from running backs Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue went for more than 7 yards, while 25 of their carries went for 2 yards or fewer. Any additional assistance to the blockers to prevent obvious passing situations could be a huge benefit to Watson as he plays his first NFL postseason game.