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Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts: Prediction, preview, pick to win

By
The Sports Xchange
Houston Texans' receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) eludes tackle of Los Angeles Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson (22) on November 12 at the LA Coliseum in Los Angeles, Calif. Photo by Jon SooHoo/UPI
Houston Texans' receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) eludes tackle of Los Angeles Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson (22) on November 12 at the LA Coliseum in Los Angeles, Calif. Photo by Jon SooHoo/UPI | License Photo

HOUSTON TEXANS (4-11) AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (2-12)

GAME SNAPSHOT

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KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Lucas Oil Stadium. TV: CBS, Tom McCarthy, Steve Beuerlein, Steve Tasker (field reporter).

SERIES HISTORY: 32nd regular-season meeting. Colts lead series, 24-7. Houston, however, has won three of the last four. The Colts won the first matchup this season, 20-14 on Nov. 5. Indianapolis is 13-2 at home against the Texans. The Colts have swept the annual AFC South series nine times, the last time in 2014. Houston has done it once (2016).

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KEYS TO THE GAME: Offensively, the Texans need to do a better job in pass protection. They've allowed 11 sacks in the past two games.

Defensively, the Texans are led by outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney. The Pro Bowl selection provides the only pass rush a declining defense has to show for a rough season.

The game plan for the Colts hasn't changed much since the beginning of the season.

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Offensively, Indianapolis has to be able to score touchdowns in the red zone instead of settling for field goals. The Colts need to be more efficient in goal-line and short-yardage situations.

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Defensively, they must get off the field on third down. They need to stop the Texans from extending drives, either through big plays or through the Colts' ill-timed penalties and mental mistakes.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

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--Colts WR T.Y. Hilton vs. Texans' pass defense. In 11 career games vs. Houston, Hilton has caught 60 passes for 1,117 yards and nine touchdowns. He has recorded five 100-yard games against the Texans, including his last two meetings (9-115, 5-175). Hilton has caught three TDs in his last two games in the series.

--Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins vs. Colts rookie CB Quincy Wilson. Hopkins has caught 96 passes for 1,378 yards and 13 touchdowns this season. Wilson has played well the last couple of weeks, but he will be severely tested by the Pro Bowl receiver.

FRIDAY INJURY REPORT

HOUSTON TEXANS

--Out: G Jeff Allen (concussion), WR DeAndre Hopkins (calf), RB Jordan Todman (shoulder)

--Questionable: T Kendall Lamm (concussion), LB LaTroy Lewis (shoulder)

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

--Out: T Denzelle Good (knee), DT Johnathan Hankins (ankle), TE Jason Vander Laan (concussion)

--Questionable: WR Donte Moncrief (ankle)

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PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Colts ILB Anthony Walker. The rookie from Northwestern has gotten more work on defense the last couple of games. Walker made his first start at Baltimore last week and played relatively well, coming up with eight tackles. He saw playing time on defense and also blocked a punt. Walker is getting more defensive playing time due to injuries, most notably the loss of starter Jon Bostic (knee).

FAST FACTS: Houston RB Lamar Miller had 91 scrimmage yards in the last meeting. In his past five games vs. Indy, he has 533 scrimmage yards (106.6 per game) and five TDs (four rushing). He needs 22 scrimmage yards for a fourth consecutive season with 1,200. ... RB Alfred Blue rushed for 108 yards last week, his fifth career 100-yard game. He rushed for 107 yards in 2015 at Indianapolis. ... WR DeAndre Hopkins leads the NFL with 13 TD catches. He has four in the past three games. In his past five games vs. Indy, he has 453 yards (90.6 per game). ... DE Jadeveon Clowney had a sack in the last meeting. He ranks second in the NFL with 21 tackles for loss and leads Houston with nine sacks. He has 15 TFL and six sacks in the past nine games. ... Rookie LB Zach Cunningham had a career-high 10 tackles and three passes defensed in Week 16. He has four TFL in the past four games. ... Colts QB Jacoby Brissett threw for 308 yards, two TDs and no interceptions in the last meeting. He has four rushing TDs in his past six games at home. ... RB Frank Gore is one of two players in NFL history (Emmitt Smith) with at least 12 consecutive seasons of 1,000 scrimmage yards. ... WR T.Y. Hilton tallied 175 receiving yards, including TDs of 80 and 45 yards, in the last meeting. His 17.6-yard receiving average is No. 2 in the NFL (min. 50 catches). ... TE Jack Doyle ranks second among NFL tight ends with 76 catches. He can become the second tight end in team history with 80 catches in a season (Dallas Clark had 100 in 2009). ... LB Jabaal Sheard notched two sacks in the last meeting and has at least two sacks in three straight games vs. Houston He also has forced at least two fumbles in two of the past three meetings.

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PREDICTION: The Colts, who won in Houston in November, have simply been the more competitive team in the waning weeks.

OUR PICK: Colts, 23-20.

--Chris Cluff

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