The Texans lost a heartbreaker to Jacksonville last Sunday, and they may have found their missing offense. The Texans scored on every possession from the second quarter on, and Matt Schaub looked like the player the Texans traded for. The Texans come home to face the Indianapolis Colts, and this is how it looks on paper.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans
Sunday, October 5, 2008, 1:00 p.m.
Reliant Stadium, Houston, TX
Records: Indianapolis 1-2, Houston 0-3
Series history: Indianapolis leads 11-1
Last season: Indianapolis won both meetings
Indianapolis offense 17th overall (6th passing, 32nd rushing); Scoring- 27th, 17.3 ppg. vs. Houston defense 25th overall (9th passing, 27th rushing); Scoring- 30th – 33.0 ppg.
The Indianapolis Colts explosive offense has started out slowly in 2008, as Peyton Manning missed all of preseason and began the season rusty in a 29-13 loss to Chicago on opening weekend. Since, Manning has seemed to right the ship as he threw for better than 300 yards in a come from behind victory against Minnesota, but was inconsistent in a last second loss to Jacksonville.
Teams have taken a bit of a different approach to the Colts this year as they’re stacking up the line of scrimmage to stop dynamic running back Joseph Addai, who earned his first Pro Bowl selection a year ago. Addai has just 142 yards in three games.
On the outside, Indianapolis has perhaps the best trio of wide receivers in football, with Pro Bowler Reggie Wayne, future Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison, and slot-machine Anthony Gonzalez. Tight end Dallas Clark is among the handful of best tight ends in the game when healthy.
The Colts offensive line has taken a bit of a hit, as many point the team’s offensive problems to those injuries. Center Jeff Saturday played for the first time against Jacksonville, and left tackle Tony Ugoh is also expected to be questionable.
The Texans biggest question mark on defense is their pass rush, as they have few people that can get after the quarterback aside from Mario Williams. Amobi Okoye seems poised to take the next step toward being one of the elite DT’s in the game in just his second season.
The Texans group of linebackers is one of the best in the league featuring Pro Bowler DeMeco Ryans and surprising second-year star Zac Diles. Throw in Morlon Greenwood and there is an active group of backers that can play sideline to sideline.
The Houston secondary has struggled without Dunta Robinson who began the year on the PUP list (knee). Corner Fred Bennett is a physical player, but can be beat deep, same as free agent acquisition Jacques Reeves. Demarcus “Petey” Faggins is a solid nickel corner.
Best offensive matchup for Indianapolis: Reggie Wayne vs. Jacques Reeves- Reeves has had a tough time covering anyone this year and Reggie Wayne is one of the premiere wide receivers in the league.
Best defensive matchup for Houston: Mario Williams vs. Colts left tackle- Williams may play against Tony Ugoh, and it may be a backup, but either way Williams should dominate, and the Colts will have to chip on him with a running back.
Houston offense 18th overall (15th passing, 22nd rushing); Scoring- 25th – 18.7 ppg. vs. Indianapolis defense 23rd overall (2nd passing, 31st rushing); Scoring- 19th- 22.3 ppg.
The Texans offense got going last week against Jacksonville, as quarterback Matt Schaub completed 29 of 40 passes for 307 yards and three touchdowns. Schaub finished with a 119.5 quarterback rating.
Rookie running back Steve Slaton is looking like a star, as he can run the ball and catch it out of the backfield. Slaton should find success against a small Colts defense.
When Schaub goes to the air, he has several options and the best of which is Pro Bowl receiver Andre Johnson. Johnson is a difficult matchup for anyone, as he is a polished route runner, is tough over the middle, and possesses deep speed. Opposite Johnson is possession guy Kevin Walter, and the “other Andre,” Andre Davis is a deep threat in his own right. Tight end Owen Daniels also has soft hands, and can find open spaces in a zone.
Teams have found success running directly at the small Colts defense, despite the team loading up the line of scrimmage with defenders. The Indianapolis Colts defense is built to get after the quarterback and play with the lead. Defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis are lightning quick off the snap, and cause problems for most offensive tackles. The center of the Indy line is in a bit of disarray, as Ed Johnson was waived two weeks ago due to a drug arrest.
Matching up against the Texans wide receivers will be corners Marlin Jackson and Kelvin Hayden, with Tim Jennings entering in nickel situations. The Colts are missing safety Bob Sanders, who is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, but fellow safety Antoine Bethea can cover a lot of ground.
Best offensive matchup for Houston: Andre Johnson vs. Kelvin Hayden- Johnson is a legitimate star in the NFL, and he is a handful for any corner. Johnson’s presence alone opens up the field for Kevin Walter and Owen Daniels.
Best defensive matchup for Indianapolis: Dwight Freeney vs. Duane Brown- Freeney should be able to take advantage of the surprising rookie with his speed rushing techniques.
Indianapolis: PK Adam Vinatieri, P Hunter Smith, LS Justin Snow, PR/KOR Justin Forsett
Houston: PK Kris Brown, P Matt Turk, LS Brian Pittman, PR Jacoby Jones, KOR Andre Davis
The Texans have the more explosive return men, and the better coverage units. The kicker and punter matchups are pretty even.