Houston Texans vs. Indianapolis Colts: Breaking Down Houston's Game Plan

Matt Goldstein@mattgoldstein5Contributor IIDecember 11, 2013

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 01:  J.J. Watt #99 of Houston Texans enters the field before the game against the New England Patriots at Reliant Stadium on December 1, 2013 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

This Sunday, the Houston Texans will travel to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis to square off with their division rivals: the Indianapolis Colts.

The Texans are amidst an almost unbelievable 11-game losing streak that seems to transcend reality at times, especially considering the team's high expectations at the start of the season.

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 01:  Case Keenum #7 of the Houston Texans during action against the New England Patriots at Reliant Stadium on December 1, 2013 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

And at this point in the season, one has to question if it's even worth it for the Texans to go for their first win since Week 2, as the team is in a stiff competition for the first pick in the draft.

It is important, however, to not underestimate the power of pride and redemption. The Texans' players are likely desperate for a victory already, and the chance to beat the Colts after Indy capped off a frenzied second-half comeback against them a few weeks ago is more than enough incentive to go all out.

Provided the Texans come to play, here are the keys on both the offensive and defensive sides of the football for the Texans to achieve victory.


Spread the Ball Around

When the Texans first played the Colts this season, it was a tale of two halves. In the first half, the Texans seemed to be in charge, and they were absolutely dominating the division leaders.

In the second half, however, the Colts came charging back and completely shut down Houston.

The difference between the two halves, you ask? 

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 01:  Andre Johnson #80 of Houston Texans catches a pass in front of Logan Ryan#26 of the New England Patriots in the first half of the game at Reliant Stadium on December 1, 2013 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Im
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

In the first, Andre Johnson tore apart the Colts' secondary, which was foolishly using single-man coverage on the All-Pro wideout with hardly any safety help. Johnson exploded for nearly 200 yards and hauled in three touchdowns before intermission.

During that first half, Case Keenum essentially looked only Johnson's way and for good reason. He was taking what the Colts' defense was giving him.

In the second half, though, the Colts made defensive adjustments and shifted their coverage toward Johnson. Keenum, however, seemed unable to recognize this and was unable to counter the change in Indy's defensive focus.

With all his other receivers facing softer coverage, Keenum should have been able to easily spread the ball around and keep the Texans' offense running at an extremely efficient level.

He didn't. He looked confused and fell apart in the face of the different defensive looks; Keenum nearly single-handedly ground the Texans' offense to a halt.

In Houston's upcoming Week 14 tilt with the Colts, Keenum will have to look to the likes of DeAndre Hopkins, Keshawn Martin and Garrett Graham early and often. The Colts will likely continue their defensive strategy from the second half the last matchup and shift its attention toward clamping down on Johnson. Keenum will have to focus on spreading the ball around.

Let's see if he can.


Stifle T.Y. Hilton

Much like his counterpart Keenum, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck relied too much on one receiver for his team's offensive success: T.Y. Hilton.

HOUSTON, TX- NOVEMBER 17: Johnathan Joseph #24 of the Houston Texans breaks up a pass intended for Jacoby Ford #12 of the Oakland Raiders on November 17, 2013 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)
Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

Hilton burned the Texans' defense for 121 yards and three touchdowns, including a 58-yard bomb that irreversibly switched the momentum in the Colts' favor.

The Texans did not appear to have the speed in the secondary to keep up with Hilton, as he easily ran past many of the Houston's defensive backs. Double-teams were also ineffective; Hilton was nearly unstoppable.

The Texans, though, must find a way to shut him down, as he was directly involved in all the Colts game-changing plays on offense.

Wade Phillips must develop a defensive game plan that focuses on eliminating Hilton's strengths, or otherwise the Texans could be facing another terrific performance from the young receiver.