HOUSTON – We have reached Week 12 of the NFL regular season, and with only a handful of weeks left to play, Thursday night’s game at NRG stadium is taking on a whole new meaning.
It’s looking like the game is a must-win as the 6-4 Texans and Colts collide and play for the outright AFC South division lead. After Thursday, only five games will be left on the schedule, so there is a lot riding on this game’s outcome.
The Texans are coming off of a blowout 41-7 loss to the Ravens, while the Colts blew out the Jaguars at home to even things up in the AFC South.
So, what will it take for the Texans to get out of NRG with a win tonight?
Deshaun Watson back on track
Watson was held to under 200 yards passing and threw an interception while being frustrated all day by the Ravens. Watson was also sacked six times (seven in all by Baltimore), and several of which were Watson’s fault for holding on to the ball too long. It was Watson’s worst loss in the NFL and even dating back to his college days at Clemson. There is a good chance he’s learned from the setback and will shine Thursday. In four career games against the Colts, he has had success averaging nearly 300 yards, passing to go with six touchdowns. That said, the Colts have had their success as well against Watson, intercepting him six times and sacking him 18 times.
Texans Defense pressure Jacoby Brissett
This will be interesting to watch. The defense struggled with Lamar Jackson but most teams do. Brissett has bounced back from an MCL in his knee and is playing great. He has also owned the Texans, going 4-0 all-time with eight touchdowns and zero interceptions. We will know at game-time or before about the status of “Texans killer” T.Y. Hilton, who has battled a hamstring issue. He is listed as questionable. The Colts will have Eric Ebron as well. The Texans secondary is depleted and will be without Justin Reid, Matt Adams and Lonnie Johnson.
Control Indy’s running game and Texans run attack
The Colts will be without their starter Marlon Mack after he fractured his hand. It’s a big blow, but backup Jonathan Williams stepped in against the Jags and tallied 116 on the ground as part of a Colts attack that totaled 264 against Jacksonville. The Texans run defense has been stout at times this season but have been prone to giving up the big plays at bad times in games. Houston’s running game will be led by Carlos Hyde. He will go against the Colt’s run defense, who has been tough to move the chains on since early in the season.
Special teams success
Which kicker will show up tonight? Houston’s Ka’imi Fairbairn or the Colt’s Adam Vinatieri? Vinatieri, 46, has struggled during parts of the season like never before in his career. However, he is coming off a nice game in the win over Jacksonville. For Fairbairn, it’s all about being locked in and confident. He has struggled with FG and some extra points as well. It could come down a crucial kick tonight. We’ve seen it happen way too often.