Not the divisional battle many thought after last year's close dance in the AFC South, the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans come off a bye to meet on Thursday Night Football at Reliant Stadium.
At 5-2, the Colts are contenders with big wins over the likes of San Francisco and Denver. The Texans, last year's AFC South champions, sit at 2-5 and ride a five-game losing streak into the contest after horrific quarterback play and a swath of injuries.
The Texans are an afterthought in the division at this point, but a win will give the Colts an even bigger lead as the only team above .500 in the AFC South.
Here is everything fans need to know about the matchup.
When: Sunday, Nov. 3, at 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Reliant Stadium, Houston, Texas
Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket
Betting Lines (via Vegas Insider)
Spread: Indianapolis (-2.5)
Colts Injury Report (via NFL.com)
No injuries to report.
Texans Injury Report (via NFL.com)
|Name||Position||Injury||Practice Status||Game Status|
|Keshawn Martin||WR||--||Full Participation in Practice||--|
|Darryl Sharpton||LB||--||Did Not Participate In Practice||--|
|Ben Tate||RB||--||Limited Participation in Practice||--|
|Wade Smith||G||--||Did Not Participate In Practice||--|
|Duane Brown||T||--||Full Participation in Practice||--|
|Brandon Brooks||G||--||Full Participation in Practice||--|
|Eddie Pleasant||S||--||Full Participation in Practice||--|
|Earl Mitchell||DT||--||Full Participation in Practice||--|
|Brice McCain||CB||--||Full Participation in Practice||--|
|DeVier Posey||WR||--||Full Participation in Practice||--|
|Arian Foster||RB||--||Limited Participation in Practice||--|
|Matt Schaub||QB||--||Full Participation in Practice||--|
|Derek Newton||T||--||Full Participation in Practice||--|
Can Case Keenum Continue Solid Play?
Despite Matt Schaub's recovery from injury, Texans head coach Gary Kubiak has elected not to start his long-term starting quarterback, per ESPN's Adam Schefter:
Houston moving on: Texans announced Case Keenum as their starting QB moving forward.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 28, 2013
That's probably for the best, as Schaub seemed to be developing a habit of throwing interceptions that go back for touchdowns.
It might also save Kubiak's job and keep the Texans competitive the rest of the way.
Case Keenum made his first start two weeks ago against the NFL's last undefeated team and threw for 271 yards and a touchdown with a critical fumble as the Texans lost by just one point. Only one other team has come within a point of upsetting the undefeated Chiefs.
It's also important to mention that Keenum's success came against a top-five pass defense that allows just 205.8 yards per game.
Now Keenum has another difficult task in front of him against a borderline top-10 pass defense, but he is at home with an extra week of preparation. How he performs, especially with Arian Foster's status in doubt, will decide the game.
As Drew Dougherty of the Texans' official website illustrates, wins have not come easy for the Colts at Reliant Stadium in recent years:
Which team wins?
As bad as the Texans look, it will continue to be a difficult task. The Colts have developed a slight habit of playing up and down to competition, with wins over contenders like Denver and losses to frauds like Miami.
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has to deal with the NFL's best pass defense, but his committee of backs will find room against a horrific run defense.
The Texans fought the good fight in their last contest and showed heart, but it's time for the Colts to officially prove they are contenders. There is no better way to do that than in front of a national audience.
Colts win 27-24
Follow B/R's Chris Roling on Twitter for more news and analysis @Chris_Roling