Arian Foster is still sitting out practices with a sore hamstring. (AP Photo)

Houston Texans: 4 Things to Look for Versus the Indianapolis Colts


Alas NFL football fanatics, football season is here and if last nights game between the Saints and the Packers is any indication of what is to come then we will be in for a great season.

The game came down to the final play of the game in which New Orleans needed a touchdown and two-point conversion in order to pull even with the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Rookie Mark Ingram was given the ball, on a gut play designed to run between the right guard and right tackle, Ingram received the ball from the two yard line and proceeded to be absolutely mauled by the Green Bay defense at the half yard line mark – essentially ending the game for the New Orleans Saints.

I couldn’t help but wonder if Ingram happened to think to himself about how much easier it all used to be while playing for perennial powerhouse Alabama….

Anyway moving on.

The Houston Texans have gone from a minus two point underdog to a plus nine point favorite to win Sunday’s game against Indianapolis. The recent surge in the point spread is due, largely in part, to a third surgery being needed on one division foe quarterback named Peyton Manning. Manning’s absence from the AFC South will have huge implications on the entire season and it all begins with this weeks match-up here in Houston. Manning’s absence actually segues into the first thing Texans fans will be looking for come this Sunday.

Manning Making the Calls

As hard as it will be for Texans fans to not believe their own eyes when they do not see Peyton Manning on the field for Indianapolis, we suggest that you close your eyes, take a deep breath, and shake your head rapidly from side to side a few times…Yes, it’s true Texans fanatics. Manning is not playing in this game nor will he be playing for the next two to three months. However, Manning will be on the sidelines no doubt serving as an second offensive coordinator. Could this be a glimpse of the future for Manning after football?

Manning has been the starting QB for Colts longer than the Houston Texans have been a franchise. It will be interesting to see Manning in his current role and quite possibly his future role with the Colts. The eyes of Texas will be upon Manning as fans from Houston will get a taste of a future coach/offensive coordiantor that could continue to be a thorn in the Houston Texans side for years to come.

Kerry and the Long Pass

Look for the long ball by Kerry Collins. While Manning won’t be out on the field, recently signed back-up QB Kerry Collins throws one of the prettiest deep balls in the league. In Collins’ first start during preseason, within the Colts first two plays from scrimmage, the back-up QB threw a nice 40 yard deep ball which went incomplete but warranted a defensive pass interference call which put the Colts inside the opponent’s ten yard line.

With a lot to prove from the Texans revamped defense, especially the secondary, it will be interesting to see exactly how Kareem Jackson and his cohorts in the defensive back field hold up under the barrage of long balls we expect from Collins and the Indianapolis Colts.

Texans Running Game

In last seasons opening day match-up between the Texans and Colts at Reliant Stadium the Houston Texans’ Matt Schaub only had to complete nine passes for 107 yards and one touchdown in order for the Texans to come away victorious. The Texans amassed thirty-four points due largely in part to Arian Foster runninng for a team-record 231 yards and scoring three touchdowns to lead the Texans to a 34-24 victory.

While there is a very good chance that Foster will not suit up Sunday because of a lingering hamstring issue, we can look for and should expect a run heavy game plan by the Texans and head coach Gary Kubiak. Derrick Ward, Steve Slaton, and Ben Tate should all take part in sharing carries and if they are all still running the ball late in the game then we should expect that the Texans are ahead in score and should come away with a victory. The Houston Texans are 23-3 under head coach Gary Kubiak when running the ball 30+ times during games.

Colts On-Field Leadership

While Kerry Collins is definitley no Peyton Manning, Collins hasn’t survived in the league as long as he has because of his inability to lead an offense. Collins is totally capable of leading Indianapolis to a few victories – even with his limited knowledge of the Colts offense. With that being said, one key to a Texans victory is the aforementioned revamped Wade Phillips’ coached defense.

The Colts have a rookie starting at left tackle in Anthony Costanza and their offensive line is definitely one of the teams biggest question marks. Keys to the game for the Texans will be the defensive pass rush against the questioned Colts offensive line, what kind of pressure the pass rush can generate in order to help out the secondary, and whether or not the secondary can take advantage of opportunities presented by the defensive front seven.

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Tags: AFC South Arian Foster Ben Tate Derrick Ward Gary Kubiak Green Bay Packers Kareem Jackson Kerry Collins Mark Ingram Matt Schaub New Orleans Saints Peyton Manning Steve Slaton Texans