The first NFL playoff of 2019 will be between two AFC South rivals. The Indianapolis Colts (10-6) will take on the Houston Texans (11-5) in Houston this Saturday afternoon. Although the Texans won the division, Houston and the Colts each won a game against each other during the regular season. Who will win this grudge match in order to move on in the playoffs? Well, let’s take a look at the preview.
Quarterbacks: Colts QB Andrew Luck (4,593 passing yards, 39 TD, 15 INT) was able to come back after missing an entire season from surgery and was able to overcome an 1-5 start to finish the season 9-1 in order to clinch the final playoff spot. For Houston, Texans QB Deshaun Watson (4,165 passing yards, 26 TD, 9 INT) was able to overcome the sophomore jinx and an 0-3 start in order to go 11-2 for the rest of the season along with the division title. Both quarterbacks have shown immense leadership throughout the season. Advantage: Even.
Running Backs: The Texans were relieved that starting RB Lamar Miller (973 yds, 5 TD) returned last week after dealing with nagging injuries throughout the season. For the Colts, Marlon Mack (908 yds, 9 TD) proved his consistency throughout the entire season. The possible X-factor for this game could be Indy’s 3rd down back Nyheim Hines (314 rushing yds, 425 receiving yards) because he will be a viable option when the Texans rush the quarterback. Advantage: Colts.
Wide Receivers: Both of these teams have two of the elite receivers in the NFL. The Colts rely upon WR T.Y. Hilton (76 rec, 1,270 yds, 6 TD), while the Texans depend upon DeAndre Hopkins (115 rec, 1,572 yds, 11 TD). The Colts have also been bolstered by the surprising play of TE Eric Ebron (750 yds, 13 TD). Advantage: Even.
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Defensive Line: The Colts run a 4-3 while the Texans run a 3-4. Despite of the difference in formations, both defensive lines get to the quarterback. Houston DE J.J. Watt (16 sacks, 9 forced fumbles) wreaks havoc every week that he plays. The Colts line pressures by committee: DT Denico Autry (9 sacks), DE Jabaal Sheard (5.5 sacks), and DT Margus Hunt (5 sacks). Advantage: Texans.
Linebackers: All four of the Texans linebackers are solid. ILB’s Zach Cunningham (107 tackles) and Bernardrick McKinney (105 tackles) stuff the run while OLB’s Jadeveon Clowney (9 sacks) and Whitney Mercilus (4 sacks) bring even more pressure on both sides of the line. For the Colts, rookie LB Darius Leonard (163 tackles, 7 sacks) has been an absolute revelation. Advantage: Texans.
Secondary: The weakest spot for both teams could be their defensive backs as the interception leader on both teams has three picks. Advantage: Even.
Kicking/Special Teams: The special teams units for both teams are solid. However, the difference could be that the Colts have Adam Vinatieri, who is possibly the best clutch kicker in NFL history. Advantage: Even.
From the results of this preview, the Texans should win a close game over the Colts by the score of 28-24.
Sources: All statistics are from Colts.com and HoustonTexans.com. The pic is from Pixabay.com.