It’s another divisional matchup on Thursday night this time in the AFC South. Tonight, the Colts go into Houston to take on the Texans. Much has been made about how two of the league’s elite young talents in Andrew Luck and JJ Watt will be squaring off, but this game is more than that. The winner of this game will control first place in the division. While there is still a lot of season to go, that is never a bad title to claim.
The Colts are tied with the Eagles for the league lead in points scored as the offense is showing very good balance. Obviously, it all begins with Andrew Luck. If this is just a glimpse of what he will look like for the next ten years, it’s going to be very scary. Luck is currently completing 68 percent of his passes, while leading the league in both yards and touchdown passes. Once again, his favorite option is Reggie Wayne. Despite coming off a season ending ACL tear, Wayne is still putting up efficient numbers. He should see at least eight to ten passes thrown his way in this one. Another player to watch who is coming off a breakout year is T.Y. Hilton. So far, Hilton’s numbers are almost identical to Wayne’s, but that isn’t what makes Hilton so dynamic. The big play is Hilton’s bread and butter which we haven’t really seen through five weeks. At this point, he’s due so don’t be surprised if he makes at least one huge play.
Despite seeing 30 less carries than Trent Richardson, Ahmad Bradshaw leads the Colts in rushing. Unlike Richardson, Bradshaw runs decisively and hits the hole hard. He’s also a threat out of the backfield who Luck has had success going to. Bradshaw has four touchdown catches on 18 total receptions. While Richardson isn’t close to living up to his draft billing, he has improved from last years disaster. Despite being less of a threat, chances are he will see more touches than Bradshaw in this one.
The Texans on offense go in each week with the intention of running the ball and eliminating chances for Ryan Fitzpatrick to make mistakes. Fitzpatrick is known for being a little streaky and right now he is in a bit of a dry spell. In his last three games, he has thrown for one touchdown compared to six interceptions. Not surprisingly, the Texans lost two of those three games. Leading the way is Arian Foster who despite a lingering hamstring injury, is averaging 4.7 yards a carry. If his body holds up, Foster is a lock to get 25 plus touches and the Colts defense is vulnerable so it could be a big night. Andre Johnson may not be putting up numbers we’ve become accustomed to, but it’s not because he’s fallen off. Fitzpatrick has difficulty finding him down the field so it only makes sense that his yards per catch is more than a yard and a half below his career average.
Despite the limited passing attempts, Johnson should still see double digit targets in this one. He has historically torched the Colts, so this could be the game he shows everyone nothing has changed. On the other side of the equation, DeAndre Hopkins would be talked about more if the Texans threw with more volume. Hopkins has hauled in 24 of 31 passes thrown his way for almost 15 yards a catch and three touchdowns. While the targets aren’t there consistently, he makes the most of them so it wouldn’t be surprising if he made a big impact.
These Thursday night games are difficult to predict. At this point, you go in assuming each game will be a blowout but need to figure out who is on the right end of it. While this one should be relatively close, it was easy to make my prediction here. When it is all said and done, Luck has shown way too much in his career to go against him. The Texans are much improved from last year. However, if the Colts get rolling on offense, Fitzpatrick isn’t the guy you want going for you in a shootout. My prediction is Colts 26 Texans (+2.5) 17.