Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
When: 4:35 PM ET, Saturday, January 5, 2019
Where: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
Preview for Digital Sports Desk by Gracenote
HOUSTON – The Houston Texans may have saved their season with an overtime win at Indianapolis in Week 4, but the Colts may have done the same by beating their AFC South rivals 10 weeks later to keep their playoff chances alive. The stakes will be considerably higher Saturday when the teams square off for the third time this season in the AFC wild card round in Houston.
“You know them well, and they know you well. You gotta fight to find ways to make slight changes, but don’t go crazy,” Indianapolis coach Frank Reich said. “You gotta avoid the mistake of, ‘We gotta be drastically different just because they know us.'” The Texans prevented an 0-4 start to the season by outlasting the Colts 37-34 on Sept. 30, a victory that spurred a nine-game winning streak and a worst-to-first finish in the division. Indianapolis avenged that defeat and ended Houston’s nine-game run with a 24-21 road victory on Dec. 9 to ignite a season-closing four-game winning streak that locked up the No. 6 seed and a third meeting with the Texans. “Only 12 teams make it and you’re bound to play somebody that you’ve already played. It’s just the way it is,” Houston coach Bill O’Brien said. “It is what it is. We know there are certain things that they’re going to do.”
TV: 4:35 p.m. ET, ABC, ESPN. LINE: Texans -1.5. O/U: 48.5
ABOUT THE COLTS (10-6): Andrew Luck missed the entire 2017 season due to recurring soreness following shoulder surgery, but finished with 4,593 yards and 39 touchdown passes while guiding Indianapolis to nine wins over its final 10 games. His favorite target is wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, who has been battling an ankle injury but still has his fifth 1,000-yard season (1,270) and burned the Texans for nine catches and 199 yards in Week 14. Tight end Eric Ebron had a career-best 13 touchdown catches, including one in each matchup versus Houston, while Marlon Mack rushed for nine touchdowns and had four 100-yard outings in his last 10 games. Rookie Darius Leonard, the league leader with 163 tackles, heads a defense that did not allow 30 points over the final 10 games after surrendering at least 34 points in four of the first six contests.
ABOUT THE TEXANS (11-5): Second-year quarterback Deshaun Watson, who had his rookie season derailed by a torn ACL in his knee and dealt with a partially collapsed lung earlier this year, threw for eight touchdowns and zero interceptions and rushed for four more scores over the final six games. DeAndre Hopkins had another monster season with 115 catches for 1,572 yards and 11 scores, finishing the season with 31 receptions and three straight 100-yard games after he was held to four catches and 36 yards by Indianapolis. A late-season ankle injury cost running back Lamar Miller a shot at 1,000 yards but he managed only 82 yards and a TD on 28 carries in both games against the Colts. J.J. Watt returned from two injury-plagued seasons to rack up 16 sacks for a defense that ranked third against the run (82.7 yards) but was vulnerable to the pass (260.4).
1. Luck has passed for 2,776 yards and 23 touchdowns in 10 career games versus Houston.
2. Watson is the first QB in league history to throw for at least 4,000 yards and 25 TDs and rush for at least 500 yards and five TDs.
3. Hilton has 41 catches for 933 yards and seven touchdowns in seven games at NRG Stadium.