TALE OF THE TAPE

Week 17: Houston Texans At Indianapolis Colts

Texans
Colts
(credit: Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Quarterback
Winner The Texans had a chance to clinch homefield advantage throughout the AFC playoffs in the Week 16 home game against the Minnesota Vikings, but they came through with an uninspired effort and came up short. Matt Schaub finished the game on the bench, but he should be able to bounce back against the Colts, who lack defensive efficiency.
The Colts needed everything they could muster just to beat the lowly Kansas City Chiefs. That’s not a good sign when you are trying to clinch a playoff spot. Rookie quarterback Andrew Luck did not have his greatest game, but once again he led the Colts to a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter.
Offense
Winner The Texans have a versatile attack and the key is running back Arian Foster. He had just 15 yards vs. the Vikings in Week 16 before he came out of the game with what the team referred to as an “illness,” that NBC Sports reported as an irregular heartbeat. If Foster makes a recovery, he will be in a position to punish the Colts. Wide receiver Andre Johnson will be difficult for the Colts to slow down.
The Colts know that they have a spectacular talent in Luck, but they want to take pressure off of him with the running game. In the Week 16 victory over the Chiefs, running back Vick Ballard pounded out 69 rushing yards. Wide receiver Reggie Wayne has had a dominant year and has caught 102 passes this season.
Defense
Winner The Texans have had a very solid year on the defensive side of the ball, but they did not come through with an impressive performance against the Vikings. The Texans rank 7th overall and 17th against the pass. That means the Colts may be able to attack through the air. J.J. Watt is competing with San Francisco’s Aldon Smith for defensive MVP honors.
The Colts rank 20th on defense this season, and that ranking probably speaks more to their hustle and hard work than their talent level. Inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman is one of the best tacklers in the league. Robert Mathis is a dynamic pass rusher at the defensive end position.
Special Teams
The Texans’ special teams have been a liability throughout the season. The kickoff and punt coverage teams have given up huge chunks of yardage this season. Shayne Graham has been a solid placekicker for the Texans while Donnie Jones gets good height on his punts.
Winner T.Y. Hilton has explosive speed and he has done a solid job of returning punts and kickoffs this season. He is capable of exploiting Houston’s coverage teams. Adam Vinatieri has not had an All-Pro type season – he has missed 6 FG attempts this season – but he should be at his best from this point forward for the Colts.

The Winner Is

Winner Texans
3 out of 4

The Colts should have all the intangible edges as they will get a big lift with the scheduled return of head coach Chuck Pagano from his battle with cancer. The Texans will almost certainly lose homefield edge and a bye week in the first round of the playoffs if they lose this game.

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