The Houston Texans enter their first divisional game of the season with a chance to knock the Indianapolis Colts off their perch on top of the AFC South, but in order to beat a team that’s dominated them in recent years with Andrew Luck, it’s going to take more than just Arian Foster having a big day on the ground.
Arian Foster is himself again. After injuries held him back last season, playing just eight games and rushing for just 542 yards, it seems that one of the more productive running backs in the NFL from 2010 through 2012 is back to his old form, averaging 101 yards per game so far this season, second only to DeMarco Murray. He finished with 157 and two touchdowns in the 17-20 loss to the Dallas Cowboys and despite complaining about the short rest heading into the Thursday night game, he is averaging 5.3 yards per carry while rushing for 343 yards and scoring five touchdowns in three Thursday games.
The last three weeks have been a special kind of turnaround for the Indianapolis Colts. After losing their first two games to the Broncos and the Eagles while struggling to create turnovers or any kind of pressure on quarterbacks, the Colts have completely turned things around in their wins over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans and the Baltimore Ravens, although the first two didn’t make it too difficult.
The Colts, now at 3-2, have outscored their opponents 105-47 through those three games while allowing only 273 yards per game while forcing nine turnovers and getting to the quarterbacks for sacks 11 times. They had just one turnover and sack to their credit during the first couple of games, in which they both allowed 30 points or more. They haven’t allowed more than 17 points in their three wins, including keeping Baltimore at just 13.
Andrew Luck is leading the NFL with 1617 passing yards and also 14 touchdown passes, but he has already been picked off six times this season, including twice against the Ravens. The Colts have been trying to change their ways and be a bit less conservative with their game plan this season, but it might be difficult considering two of the players protecting Luck will be out for the Texans game, which might force Luck into quicker throws or dumping the ball off to his running backs, which hasn’t been a great success so far this season.
The Texans offer good protection to Ryan Fitzpatrick, but he’s simply not a very good quarterback, throwing five touchdown passes and six interceptions so far this season. As long as they’re not trying to throw the ball too much and work their way through the running game, he’s fine. However, when it comes to putting the ball in his hands and hoping something great comes out of it, the results is often disappointing, and has been for a very long time.
Recent history puts the Colts as the favorites in this divisional clash. They’ve won four of their last five against the Texans, including in the abysmal 2011 season, followed by dominating it since the drafting of Andrew Luck. Last year the Texans were held to just 3 points when the two teams met in December, but that was a different Houston team, and possibly a slightly different Colts team.