The Houston Texans get a little home cooking for their week 6 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts. Home seems to be the only place the Texans look like a competitive football team. Currently, they’ve been outscored 58-13 on the road and 69-46 advantage at home. The Texans will like seeing a the beautiful blue end zones at NRG field on Sunday Night (they’ll also like to see the roof closed because the high on Sunday is supposed to be 92 degrees because, Houston.)
This game is very important for the Texans season. Not only do they have to get right after a poor showing in Minnesota, a win against the Colts would put them, essentially, three games up on the team most likely to challenge for the AFC South crown. If the Texans lose they would have the same record as the Colts, but really be one game behind them because of head-to-head schedule being the top tie-breaker.
What would the Texans need to do to ensure they are keeping their home record perfect and dispelling the myth they buckle under the pressure of prime time games? Here are five things I see that would help lead Houston to the victory.
1. Pressure Andrew Luck
This really should be a no-brainer and extremely easy thing to do. The Colts have a terrible at protecting their star QB. He’s been sacked 20 times this season already. In five games. Against bad teams like Chicago (5 sacks) and Jacksonville (6 sacks). There is no reason Whitney Mercilus, Jadeveon Clowney, and John Simon shouldn’t match or beat those numbers for sacks Sunday Night.
If you are putting Luck on his back the chance he is making bad throws and throwing pics increases. Luck has actually been uncharacteristically good at not turning over the ball this year only throwing three interceptions, but hitting him multiple times can help increase the odds of picking one off.
2. Cover T.Y. Hilton
If T.Y. Hilton catches a pass down the sideline for a 60-yard touchdown the fans at NRG might go crazy. Since Hilton came in the league in 2012 he has been crushing the Texans. His worst outing was week 14 in Indianapolis when he had 60-year-old (approximate) Matt Hasselbeck throwing to him and he caught three passes for 29 yards. Other than that he has racked up 749 yards and six touchdowns in 7 games against the Texans. Have a cornerback cover him, have a safety over the top, and possibly sometimes just pull him to the ground before the ball even gets there.
3. Make Field Goals
I don’t think this Houston Texans team can leave any points on the board. Last week a 51-yard field goal missed didn’t hurt them (in the fact they were going to lose with or without that field goal), but Nick Novak can’t miss anything this week. It just feels like the game will be close and any miscue will ruin the Texans. Make your field goals Nick Novak. If you are more than 50-yards away, maybe punt, or go for it.
4. Find A Running Game
Last week the Vikings made Lamar Miller obsolete. With Duane Brown back in the fold for, presumably, more snaps than the 66% he took in his first game back. A quality game by Lamar Miller will go a long way to taking the enormous rock of pressure sitting on the shoulders of Brock Osweiler. The Colts are giving up 109.6 rush yards a game. That should be doable for the Texans if Miller and the O-line are on their game. Even if the Texans go down early they can’t completely ditch the run. They have to have Lamar Miller produce.
5. Sweep The Leg
Finish them! If the Texans are up late, be it by 35 points, 14 points or two points they can’t let Andrew Luck have a chance. The Colts score a lot in the 4th quarter, like 61 points in the fourth quarter this season. When the Texans take a lead, that defense needs to keep the pedal to the metal the entire time. This is where Bill O’Brien can show something he’s learned from Bill Belichick and just never let up.
The Texans have a big opportunity. If you lose twice to teams that are obviously good on the road, but hold your own at home against bad teams, you can go places in the NFL. If you lose home games against a bad team (and I think the Colts are a bad team) you are dead meat. We’ll see if the Texans can do these five things and take home their fourth home victory of the season.