Free NFL Pick: Houston at Indianapolis 11-01-2010

October 31, 2010


Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts

Monday November 1st, 2010 8:30 PM EST

Line: Indianapolis -6


The Indianapolis Colts will seek revenge this Monday against the Houston Texans. The Texans beat the Colts in their home opener, so Peyton Manning and the Colts are looking to redeem themselves and take hold of the division. Both teams are 4-2 and both are battling for the top of the AFC South.

Keys to the Game:

  • Lightning doesn’t strike in the same place twice. There is no way Peyton Manning is going to allow the Texans to get the best of him twice in a season. He threw for three touchdowns and 433 yards the last time they squared off. The Texans have the worst pass defense in the entire NFL, allowing 306.2 yards. Manning is a film freak and will undoubtedly take advantage of every hole in the Texans secondary. The Texans lost Dunta Robinson and didn’t bring in a viable backup. They have relied heavily on their pass rush in the past, but Brian Cushing hasn’t had a sack since he has returned. Their best pass rusher, Mario Williams, has five sacks. If the Texans blitz, they will likely be exposed by Manning. They are in a lose lose situation, as they don’t have the talent to play Manning honest and they don’t have the pass rushers that can get to the quarterback without blitzing.
  • As there is a mismatch with the Colts passing game and the Texans pass defense, there is a mismatch between Arian Foster and the Colts run defense. Foster has seen a decline in his numbers, which was not unexpected given his phenomenal performance in the first portion of the season. The Texans need to get Foster the ball often, due to the 137.3 yards per game the Colts allow on the ground. The Texans haven’t lost a single game where Foster has found the end zone. If Foster gets going, which in all likelihood he will, the Texans are going to put up big time numbers. In teams Foster has struggled against, they have had a stout defensive line. Foster is most dangerous after he gets to the second level, so if the Colts can manage to make contact near the line of scrimmage, they have a better chance at containing Foster.
  • Reggie Wayne has to make up for Dallas Clark being out. Wayne has the third most yards in the NFL at this point, but he is going to have to play spectacular football to make up for Clark’s absence. Clark has been a crucial outlet for Manning and will be impossible to replace. Manning does a nice job at finding the open receiver and bringing the most out of all of his weapons. Clark’s injury is going to be felt in the offense most on third down. He is a sure handed outlet who is crucial to moving the chains. Reggie Wayne will need to step up his game to stretch the field. There is no corner that can compete with Wayne on the Texans, so you can expect Wayne to have a big night.
  • The Colts know that the weakness in their defense lies in their run stopping ability, so they could play with eight in the box fairly regularly. With Bob Sanders out as usual, the Colts lack a real presence at safety. Antoine Bethea is solid, but he isn’t the game changer Sanders is. If the Colts over compensate against the run, the Texans are going to put on an air show. Andre Johnson is an absolute monster. It wouldn’t shock me if he went for 150 yards. In their last matchup, the Colts shut down Johnson, limiting him to three catches for 33 yards. The reason they didn’t utilize Johnson was because they didn’t need his services. Arian Foster ran for 231 yards in that game, so forcing the ball in the air would have been unnecessary. Foster won’t go for over 200 yards again, so Johnson has an opportunity to step up in this one.
  • Since their franchise began, the Texans have been owned by the Colts. They are 2-15 all time against Manning and the Colts. One of those wins came this season and the Texans are trying to stand up to the bully. It is impressive that they are still tied for first place in the division at this point in the year. This is a crucial game, because if they don’t win their division, they could be watching the playoffs at home on T.V. The Jets, Patriots, Ravens, Steelers, Colts, and Texans cannot all make the playoffs. While I think five of those teams will go, nobody wants to be that sixth team that is left out. Don’t forget, the AFC West still accounts for one playoff spot. You will see both teams playing like this is a playoff game.
  • Demeco Ryans is out, which has the Texans defense in disarray. Mario Williams is without a doubt the most talented member of the defense, but the heart and soul of the Texans defense is tackling machine Demeco Ryans. They have Cushing playing out of position in order to fill his shoes, which takes away from the outside pass rush. The Texans are softer in the middle of the field. Joseph Addai is out, which makes the Colts less likely to attack the Texans in the middle. The Colts are going to be most effective on the ground when they seemingly have Donald Brown in the backfield for pass protection and he goes for a half back draw. Manning is quite possibly the best quarterback of all time at calling an audible at the line of scrimmage to take advantage of a defense. Brown is going to get carries if Manning sees something, which could be often given Houston’s injury problem.

Wrap Up:

While I like Houston, I don’t see them beating the Colts twice. Arian Foster isn’t going to surprise anyone this time around. If the Colts can contain him to under 100 yards on the ground, the Texans are going to be held to far less than the 34 they put up in week one. Houston made a statement in week one, but I don’t think beating the Colts will be a regular occurrence for them. I like the Colts by a touchdown on Monday Night.

Free NFL Pick: Indianapolis -6

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