Texans vs. Colts: Thursday Night Keys

Patrick D. Starr

Colts Country

For the greater good, the Houston Texans are back to work on a shorten week and are facing a familiar face in the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday to open the week 15 games.

The Texans are coming off a disappointing loss last Sunday, but are looking to get back on track against the 1-13 Colts. The only issue is that I don't think we can count out the Colts to put up a fight against the Texans. The Colts still have plenty of playmakers on the field, and it will be up to the Texans once again to control them during the game. Reggie Wayne, Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis are still producing, not at their normal rate, but can cause some issues if the Texans are not ready.

Here are some keys for the Texans to watch for this Thursday.

1. Duane Brown and Eric Winston are the key to this game, and their ability to keep Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney off of T.J. Yates will be a good matchup to watch. These four have been going head to head for plenty of snaps during their respective career, but with Yates coming off a down game they have to get him some confidence quick. That starts with protecting him, and Brown and Winston need to take a page out of their week 1 contest when they slowed down the two Colts pro-bowlers.

2. The Texans run game has looked sub-par to their standards, and where they fix it is the biggest question mark. It looks like it could be one block, a slip, a fumble or the lack of cutback lanes, whatever it may be the Texans need to get back on track before the playoffs hit. The Texans the past two seasons have had success running the ball against the Colts, and it would be nice to see Gary Kubiak get back to running the ball with play calling confidence, especially in the red zone.

3. This week Gary Kubiak and Rick Dennison need to put T.J. Yates in better situations to succeed at quarterback. Build his confidence early with throwing the ball, but make Yates take some shots down field to loosen up the safeties out of the box. Yates struggled mightily last week, bad throws that resulted in interceptions and taking some bad sacks. Yates needs to get his confidence back up in a hurry, because the Texans offense is only as good as Yates makes them.

4. With Owen Daniels and Joel Dreessen game time decisions, James Casey has to get back to his old self, pre-pectoral injury. Casey has disappeared since his pectoral injury and once an important part of the offense, his snaps have been limited. Casey can contribute immediately as a tight end, because with Vickers playing better as a fullback right now, he has to help out a hobbled tight end situation. Look for Casey to get a bigger workload on Thursday.

5. One of the recent struggles for the defense is the lack of pass rush from the Texans. Connor Barwin is the only one getting sacks, and Antonio Smith works his tail off to get pressure up the middle. Barwin and Smith can't do it all, so players like J.J. Watt and Brooks Reed need to start getting in the backfield. The ability to put pressure on the quarterback leads to good things, turnovers, and with the Colts in the spread offense, the Texans are going to have to be calculated blitzes on Thursday.

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