Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans: 10 Bold Predictions for Tonight
The Houston Texans started the season with a surprisingly easy victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
This put the Texans in the driver's seat in the AFC South, and it appeared that they might have turned the corner and were finally ready to capture their first division crown.
Turns out the Colts weren't quite done and now sit at 4-2, the same record as the Texans. Tonight is the crucial rematch, and it takes place primetime in Indy.
This will, no doubt, be an entertaining and well-played game so here are some predictions for what we will see tonight.
10. Peyton Manning Will Struggle Early
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Peyton Manning comes into this game without two key weapons in receiver Austin Collie and tight end Dallas Clark.
Although Manning and the Colts are one of the best game-planning teams in the league, I expect there to be some struggles early on with Manning and his new targets.
Clark will be especially missed, as his wide receiver-like skills make him one of Manning's favorite targets, especially on third downs. I think it will take Manning a little while to get into a rhythm, although some of that will have to do with talent on the Texans' defense...
9. Houston Texans Defensive Line Will Hassle Peyton Manning
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The strength of the Texans' defense, no doubt, lies on their defensive line.
Because of the immobility of Peyton Manning, the Texans will be able to pressure him into rushing some throws.
In their last matchup, the Texans got just two sacks, but racked up 10 QB hits in the game. Because Manning has such a quick release, it is often difficult to wrap him up.
Therefore, it becomes even more important to get to him to simply knock him off his timing.
I think the Texans will have success on the line all night and force the Colts to adjust.
8. Colts Running Back Mike Hart Will Have an Effective Game
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The statuses of No.1 running back Joseph Addai and his backup, Donald Brown, are both seriously up in the air, and it looks like neither might suit up tonight.
That would leave Mike Hart in line to make his first NFL start.
Although Hart has not had much success in the NFL and the Colts running game is not a revered one, I think Indy will make an effort to run the ball tonight after having Peyton Manning throw the ball 57 times in their loss to the Texans.
I still think we will see Manning drop back and pass a lot tonight, but I think there will be a solid mix of the run game that will catch the Texans off guard.
I see something like 75 yards and a TD in the cards for Hart tonight.
7. Colts Will Stay in the Game by Forcing Turnovers
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I think we're gonna see some offensive struggles early on for both teams.
I think, for the Texans, it could come in the form of some early turnovers. In a game of this magnitude on a Monday night, I think the experienced, albeit beat up, Colts defense will take advantage of a still slightly green Matt Schaub.
The tag team of Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney will pressure Schaub into making some tough throws that will lead to early turnovers and keep the Colts in this game.
6. Jim Caldwell Will Show Some Sign of Emotion
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OK, so this is kind of a joke.
But seriously, is there documented evidence of this guy blinking? The stoic head coach thing can work, but sometimes a little Rex Ryan-esque emotion would be nice.
Do I actually think we will see a new side of Caldwell tonight? Probably not, but in a game this big in a season that has been pretty up and down, it may be the time to break out some new looks.
5. Arian Foster Will Have Another Big Game, but Not as Big as Week 1
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Foster's incredible size makes him a big mismatch for the undersized Colts defense.
We saw this firsthand in the opening game of the season. Foster ran for over 200 yards and three scores in the victory.
I think tonight we will see more powerful running from Foster, but the Colts will be more prepared and not allow a game like last time. I think we could see something like 120 yards and a TD from Foster.
4. Manning Will Find Jacob Tamme for Some Big Receptions
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Jacob Tamme comes into this game with six career receptions and none this season.
He will be expected to step up with the loss of Dallas Clark, and he will be in a good position to do that with one of the best of all time throwing it his way.
Manning has always had the uncanny ability to find his tight end on big plays. I expect, if Tamme has done his homework, he will be able to do a solid job imitating Clark.
He obviously does not have the same skill set as Clark, but he will fill in capably and Manning will find him when he has to.
3. Andre Johnson Will Make His Presence Felt
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Not the boldest prediction, I know.
But in any game involving the Texans, you cannot ignore the presence of Andre Johnson. Johnson may be the best receiver in the NFL, and there is no one on this Colts' D that can match up to him.
As the game goes on, expect Schaub to rely more and more on the big-bodied Johnson and feed him over and over. Expect to see Johnson find the end zone at least once tonight and to make plenty of tough catches with defenders draped all over him.
2. The Indianapolis Crowd Will Make an Impact
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After losing this matchup the first time in Houston, the Colts I'm sure are ecstatic to be back in the friendly confines of Lucas Oil Field.
On a Monday night, expect the Colts' fans to be in a frenzy in the big divisional battle.
The Texans have limited experience playing in important road games, and I think the crowd will be able to disrupt them at times. They will need extreme poise from Schaub and head coach Gary Kubiak.
1. Colts Will Pull this One Out 27-21
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I think this will be a game that starts slow and picks up late with both teams' offenses figuring it out late.
In the end, we will have two great QB's with two stellar offenses going head to head.
I think home-field advantage and the fact that Peyton Manning is Peyton Manning will put the Colts over the top. It will be a physical, fast and hotly-contested game.
But in the end, I expect the Colts will be able to eek it out.