Nov 30, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) on the sidelines during the fourth quarter against the Tennessee Titans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
The smart money says the Texans 2014 campaign to make the playoffs and try to get that miracle run to the Super Bowl will die a predictable death in Lucas Oil Stadium. The history of the Texans is that a trip to Indianapolis is followed by a long flight back home. First Peyton Manning and now Andrew Luck have had their way with the Texans by the end of every game. The Texans are likely to start the game without Andre Johnson who is still undergoing concussion protocols. Tim Jamison is out for the season with a knee injury and Whitney Mercilus who has been having a career year will be forced to the sidelines.
Throw in Garrett Graham, their most productive tight end into the “not going to play due to injury” list and things look grim indeed. However, there is hope. J.J. Watt has been generally successful against the Colts, and their offensive line is rather banged up. Ryan Fitzpatrick has had a bit of a resurgence after being benched. The Texans know this is it, lose and the season is lost. Never a good thing. Here’s what they need to do to have a chance at winning.
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1. The defense has to get to Andrew Luck.
J.J. Watt and his cohorts in the trenches will need the secondary to cover TY Hilton and the Colts receivers the best they ever had. This will by Watt and Co. the time they need to get to Luck. The problem with Luck is that he’s as good in the pocket as he is on the run. Be it throwing on a broken play or picking up yards on his own. The Texans secondary cannot give the Colts a 10 yard cushion. Luck will destroy them.
2. DeAndre Hopkins, come on down.
With Andre Johnson likely down for this game due to that nasty blow last week, this is the game we could look back on as the passing of the torch in a way. While Johnson’s career is hardly over, Hopkins is starting to prove he’s got that special touch, that magic that separates a superstar from a career receiver. He’s the Texans best hope for keeping Luck off the field. Fitzpatrick has to play like he did against Tennessee as well.
3. Will this be the game the Texans unleash the Tight Ends?
The most frustrating aspect of the Texans game this season has been the absolute lack of play from the tight ends. Is it chemistry? Is it skill? Is it intentional? Who knows, I can’t make rhyme or reason out of it. Watching replays you see Fiedorowicz, Graham and Griffin open and targeted. Everyone knows this, and they do not get the coverage attention. Instead it’s Hopkins and Johnson. You cannot win with two receivers, doubly so if one is down for the game. Spread the ball Fitzy, spread the ball.
On paper, looking at the match ups, reading the long history of failure the Texans should lose this game. But the game isn’t played on paper, match ups have a way of surprising you and if ever there was a game the Texans needed to break a streak on, it’s this one. A win in Indy and a little help from teams playing spoiler and the Texans place in line for the wild card spot moves up in a big way.
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