The Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans have a conference-deciding battle this Sunday, and there are seven things to keep in mind.
How will the Colts adjust without Peyton Manning?
Is Matt Schaub the real deal?
Is the Texans' balanced offense attack (fourth in passing and seventh in rushing) enough to take down the Colts?
These are some of the questions you may have now, but here are seven things you want to watch when the Colts and the Texans face off on Sunday.
Peyton Manning literally wrote the Indianapolis Colts playbook.
Kerry Collins has some big shoes to fill—four-time MVP shoes.
Collins is obviously no Manning, but he's been in the league for 16 years.
The impact Manning has on Indianapolis is unreal. He has his team ready every Sunday, and his work ethic is impeccable.
According to ESPN via the Los Angeles Times, five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant, who apparently only sleeps four hours a day, told Manning, "Why is it that every time I watch you play, I turn the game off feeling like I don't do nearly enough to prepare for my game?"
If that doesn't speak volumes about Manning's work ethic, I don't know what will.
The Indianapolis Colts have some issues at wide receiver. I'm currently looking at their depth chart, and the only healthy receivers are Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon.
Reggie Wayne had 111 receptions last year for 1,355 yards and six touchdowns.
Pierre Garcon had 67 receptions for 784 yards and had six touchdowns as well.
Both players are obviously capable of producing, but two wide receivers aren't going to cut it.
Austin Collie has been battling knee and foot issues in the offseason, and he's going to have to come back healthy if the Colts want a shot at beating the Houston Texans.
Matt Schaub has never faced the Indianapolis Colts when Peyton Manning wasn't playing—will it affect his level of play?
What quarterback isn't intimated by Manning at least a little bit? Kerry Collins brings his own veteran skills, but I don't really see anybody being truly scared of him.
Facing Collins after Peyton is like going head to head with a bull, then having to fight a baby lion.
It's just not the same.
Wade Phillips and Mr. Kerry Collins go a little ways back.
John McClain of AOL's Sporting News writes:
"Indianapolis quarterback Kerry Collins was 3-2 as a starter against the Texans when he played for Tennessee, but he’s 0-7 against teams that have Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator.
"Overall, Collins is 3-4 against the Texans and 1-8 against Phillips. Collins is expected to start at Reliant Stadium on Sunday."
Since Collins only had around three weeks to learn the Colts playbook, I don't see this record getting better anytime soon.
Ben Tate had a pretty good shot of being the starting running back for the Houston Texans last season. Unlike undrafted Arian Foster, Tate was drafted in the second round in 2010.
If it wasn't for his torn ankle ligaments and a fractured fibula in Houston's first preseason game, who knows what could have happened?
With Foster currently battling through injury, look for Tate to make his case for more carries or even a starting gig for the Texans.
With injures to their wide receiver corps., and Peyton Manning possibly missing the season, the Indianapolis Colts are on the decline.
While the Houston Texans—with Matt Schaub, Matt Leinart, possibly Arian Foster and Andre Johnson—are in the rise.
This will be the start of a dominating decade for Houston, and the Colts will not host anymore AFC South championship banners for at least a few years.