The Indianapolis Colts have one of the latest Bye weeks in the NFL this season.
Indy has played 12 of their 13 straight games before they are afforded a week off and a chance to get healthy.
The 13th game is upon us this week as the Colts travel to NRG Stadium to take on the Houston Texans. While the Colts beat the Texans 31-3 at Lucas Oil Stadium earlier this season, the Colts cannot take this team lightly. With no margin for error as they make a push for the playoffs, the Colts must take care of business before looking ahead to the Bye week.
Let’s take a look at the main areas to focus on as we get ready for another AFC South showdown.
Much was made about the lack of balance by the Colts’ offense in their loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week. They had trouble running the ball against the top rushing defense in the lead and resorted to challenging the Bucs through the air.
Indy had success when throwing the football, racking up over 300 yards, and scoring three times through the air. However, head coach Frank Reich drew criticism from fans for running 26 straight passes through the middle part of the game.
Don’t expect that to happen again this week as the Colts look to get back to a more balanced approach on offense.
Back in October, the Colts’ offense had success both on the ground and through the air. Quarterback Carson Wentz only had 11 completions on the day but threw for 223 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Jonathan Taylor also had a day, going for 145 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries.
The Colts have confidence they can move the ball on offense in a variety of ways against this Texans team. Look for the Colts to use more balance, keeping the defense honest as they try to replicate their offensive explosion from a few weeks ago.
T.Y. In Houston Once Again
Do not be shocked if the offensive explosion includes a heavy dose of T.Y. Hilton.
It’s well known how dominant the veteran wide receiver has been over the Texans in his career. This is particularly true in Houston, as Hilton has amassed 60 catches for 1146 yards and eight touchdowns in 10 games.
Unfortunately for Hilton, he has faced more injuries this year than ever before. Neck, quad, and concussion injuries have kept Hilton out for seven games in 2021. However, he says that he’s finally getting back into the swing of things.
“Yeah, it feels good to string some games together,” Hilton said this week. “Just continue to be healthy, stay healthy. Body’s feeling good. So, as long as I continue to keep doing what I’m doing, I’ll be fine.”
Hilton recorded his first touchdown of the season last week against the Buccaneers and has been building a connection with Wentz as he’s been able to stay healthy. It takes time to develop chemistry with a new quarterback, and Wentz and Hilton have been learning each other on the fly.
“We’re still learning each other,” he admitted. “We’re deep in the season now, so we’ll continue to get that work whether it’s a walk-thru, jog-thru. Just continuing to get that work on the side. When we’re out there in practice, just continue to trust one another and just get that timing down. Come Sunday, we try to put it together.”
With Hilton considering retirement earlier this year, this may be the last time we see him take the field at his “second home” in Houston.
Tyrod Taylor Effect
When the Colts and Texans faced off in October, rookie Davis Mills was quarterbacking the Texans for the Week 6 matchup. Starter Tyrod Taylor was out with a hamstring injury that left him sidelined for weeks. This time around, Taylor is healthy and ready to go.
Taylor brings more of a challenge for the Colts defense at the quarterback position. An NFL veteran of 11 seasons and 52 starts, he has been around much longer than the rookie Mills. Taylor also presents a mobility element that Mills does not possess, averaging 27.2 yards per game this season.
While Taylor doesn’t use his legs as often as some of the quarterbacks the Colts have faced this year, the Colts tend to struggle at times against more mobile quarterbacks. Making sure Taylor stays in the pocket and doesn’t get loose will be a focus for Indy this week.
The Colts pass rush will also look to have an impact. After sacking Mills twice the first go around, the Colts enter this game getting more production from their pass rush than they have all season. Rookie defensive end Kwity Paye has recorded a sack in three straight contests and will look to make that a four straight on Sunday.
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