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NFL Week 6 Preview: Do Underdog Texans Have a Shot in Indy?

The Houston Texans head to their AFC South rivals the Indianapolis Colts as heavy underdogs.

It seems safe to say that after another disappointing and thoroughly winnable loss, the Houston Texans must now be edging closer toward a "damage control" mindset. 

However, what better way to delay this for another week than to clinch themselves a crucial divisional victory?

Heading into Week 6, the Texans remain technically unbeaten within their division. Yes, they've only faced one opponent so far but let's try and keep the glass half full for now. 

Now with the Indianapolis Colts on the horizon, Houston faces the prospect of regaining not only some credibility but a good amount of pride should they find a way to edge past their AFC South rival.

RECORDS: Texans (1-4), Colts (1-4)

ODDS: Surprise, Surprise, the Texans are 10-point underdogs. Over/under is 43.5 points.

STAT: The Colts have been a thorn in Houston's side for the majority of the Texans' existence. Since 2002, the Texans are 9-29 against Indianapolis, including just one win in their last six matchups. 

One key contributor to Houston's persistent struggles against Indianapolis has been Colts wide receiver, T.Y. Hilton. The veteran has yet to play this season due to injury, but of course, this week he has returned to training and could play.

If that proves to be the case, they'd be gaining a playmaker who has recorded 672 receiving yards against the Texans in just the last three years.

FUN FACT: As has been well-documented this week, Houston's rookie quarterback Davis Mills bounced back from a poor performance against the Buffalo Bills two weeks ago to record the league's second-highest QB rating (141.7) against the Patriots last week. He finished the game 21 of 29 for 312 passing yards, with three touchdowns, and zero interceptions.

Mills looked confident, composed, and more comfortable than previously, commanding the offense efficiently and even setting an NFL record along the way.

This week he faces a Colts defense that, while strong, has allowed the most passing touchdowns in the league so far this season (15), is tied for last in defended passes (12), and has allowed the highest average QB rating in the league (124.9).

Perhaps this is the week the man, the myth, the Mills can significantly improve his QB rating.

KEEP AN EYE ON: Houston's offensive line is banged up and missing three starters against the Colts. 

Pro Bowl left tackle Laremy Tunsil is out having undergone surgery on a thumb injury this week, meaning Geron Christian will need to step in. 

Meanwhile, right tackle Marcus Cannon remains sidelined with a back injury so second-year tackle Charlie Heck will return for a second straight start at the position. 

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What Now For 10-Loss Texans?

The Texans have mathematically been eliminated from the AFC Playoff race

To make things even more difficult, center Justin Britt is also officially out. Justin McCray has been taking the starting snaps in his place this week and could be in line for his first start this season.

All in all, these injuries aren't ideal for a rookie QB just finding his feet in this offense. 

WELCOME ADDITIONS: Following on from his career game last week, wide receiver Chris Moore has been signed to the active roster from the practice squad. 

This extra depth at the receiver should help the Texans avoid using return specialist Andre Roberts at the position, and means there's less pressure on Danny Amendola to jump back into the lineup if he isn't fully prepared to go. Amendola is currently listed as questionable.

Elsewhere, running back Rex Burkhead who was out last week was listed as questionable and so could feature come Sunday. 

HOUSTON'S KEY TO VICTORY: What has cost Houston more than anything of late have been basic errors. Penalties, missed extra points, etc. 

They need to focus on the fundamentals. Currently, Houston leads the NFL in missed tackles (45), while ranking 31st in sacks (8) and QB pressures (31).

Offensively, they were improved last week in terms of passing, but their run game remains amongst the league's least productive with just 399 yards and three touchdowns in five games.

Translation: Regardless of how fast Mills improves, they need to play complementary football on offense. You cannot rely too heavily on the run or the QB, or you'll become predictable.

GAME TIME: 12:00 p.m. CT, Sunday, Oct. 17

LOCATION: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana

TV/RADIO: CBS, KHOU 11, Sports Radio 610, 100.3 The Bull, Mega 101 FM

THE FINAL WORD: The season started off positively with a win against the bumbling Jacksonville Jaguars. Week 2 and the Cleveland Browns was a thoroughly winnable game, had injuries not ravaged the Texans. 

Nevertheless, Week 3 and the Carolina Panthers were there for the taking come halftime, before the Texans capitulated. The downward spiral continued against the Buffalo Bills the following week where the Texans were absolutely dominated, before returning to some sort of form against New England to, again, capitulate after halftime. 

It's safe to say that three of their four losses were absolutely winnable, had Houston maintained their rhythm after the break. 

This team is capable of playing winning football, and the Colts are far from unbeatable. Houston just needs to find a way to keep their foot on the gas through a full game and perhaps they can avoid this becoming a 'damage limitation' kind of season after all.