INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (2-6) AT HOUSTON TEXANS (3-4)
SERIES HISTORY: 31st regular-season meeting. Colts lead series, 23-7. The Texans have won the last three games after the Colts had won the previous six. Indianapolis is 13-2 at home vs. the Texans and 10-5 at Reliant/NRG Stadium. The Colts' last road win in the series occurred on Oct. 8, 2015. The Colts have swept the home-and-home series nine times while Houston has done it once -- a season ago.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Houston's rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson once again wowed 'em, throwing for 402 yards and four touchdowns last Sunday in Seattle. But Watson was also picked off three times as the Texans fell 41-38. Watson now leads the league with 21 touchdown passes, and Houston is the NFL's highest-scoring team at 30.7 points per game -- 34.6 since Watson became the starter.
"Yeah, it can get a lot better, and those guys will tell you, too," Watson told the Houston Chronicle. "It's (production) still not where they want to be and where their potential is."
Earlier this week, the Texans traded three-time Pro Bowl tackle Duane Brown to Seattle, but Chris Clark has returned from a calf injury to replace him.
The Colts, sitting in last place in the AFC South and still missing starting quarterback Andrew Luck, are staring at another lost season. Indianapolis is 27th in the NFL in passing yards and 25th in scoring.
But the Colts' worst-in-the-NFL pass defense (almost 300 yards per game) will have to contend with Watson and his improving wide receivers. DeAndre Hopkins, coming off a 224-yard performance in Seattle, and Will Fuller both have seven touchdown receptions.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Colts QB Jacoby Brissett vs. Texans pass rush. Brissett has been sacked 29 times this season. Houston, meanwhile, has 17 sacks -- four by OLB Jadeveon Clowney. Against the Cincinnati Bengals last week, Brissett did a better job of getting rid of the football more quickly. He'll need to do that again Sunday.
--Texans QB Deshaun Watson vs. Colts linebackers. Watson is great on the run. Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano said the rookie quarterback throws the ball very well in scramble situations and marveled at his ability to find targets downfield while in scramble mode. Watson can also hurt defenses when he tucks the ball and keeps it. Finding a way to keep him bottled up will be the key to the game. Indianapolis must be able to tackle. They have too many missed tackle attempts this season.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Colts DE Henry Anderson. The third-year defensive lineman from Stanford looks like he is getting back to being the kind of player he was as a rookie. Anderson suffered a knee injury late in his first season and saw limited work when he returned to game action in the middle season. He had a breakout game, of sorts, in the loss to Cincinnati last Sunday, with seven total tackles, a sack and three tackles for loss. He also blocked a field-goal attempt.
FAST FACTS: Colts QB Jacoby Brissett is coming off his first game with multiple touchdown passes. Brissett was 25-for-39 for 233 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception in Cincinnati. ... TE Jack Doyle is coming off career highs in catches (12) and yards (121). ... RB Frank Gore, who is seventh in the league in career rushing yards, became the first back since Curtis Martin in 2005 to start 100 consecutive games. He was the subject of trade talks this week but ended up remaining in Indy. ... K Adam Vinatieri is tied with Gary Anderson for most points scored (2,434) in NFL history. ... WR T.Y. Hilton, also the subject of trade rumors over the past month, will start his 31st consecutive game, fifth among active wide receivers. ... Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins has 606 yards on 45 catches. ... Houston is 2-2 at home this season. The Texans have forced eight turnovers in their two wins and none in the losses. ... RB Lamar Miller had two games in October with a rushing and receiving touchdown; he had just two such games previously in his career. ... WR Will Fuller is tied for the team lead with seven touchdown catches -- on just 13 receptions.
PREDICTION: Deshaun Watson eclipsed 400 yards passing a week ago -- against the Seahawks in noisy Seattle. Despite being competitive in a 24-23 road loss to Cincinnati, the Colts don't have the defensive firepower to keep Watson and his wide receivers in check.
OUR PICK: Texans, 31-16.