Concluding my three part series on the Houston Texans post free agency matchups against their divisional opponents, we have the Indianapolis Colts. Part one against the Jaguars can be read here and part two against the Titans here.
Texans offense vs. Colts defense
The Texans got great bang for their buck in getting Lamar Miller in free agency. The young back still has a lot of tread left on his tires after being underused in Miami. Going against an Indianapolis defense that has historically struggled against the run will bode well for the former Miami Hurricane and Dolphin, even though he was held to 31 yards on 15 carries against the Colts last season.
There is some concern about Miller’s consistency though, as 401 of his 874 rushing yards came in three games. He scored eight touchdowns on the ground while adding two more in the passing game. Overall he caught 47 passes for 397 yards last season. I imagine his numbers against the Colts this season will be much better than they were last year.
Moreover, DeAndre Hopkins showed up big against the Colts last season. He had 169 yards in the first meeting and 94 in the second. His 169 yards in the first meeting was a season high, as were his 11 catches in the game. Surprisingly he did not score in either game.
Brock Osweiler had some struggles against teams that played 3-4 defenses last season. When he came on in relief of Peyton Manning against the Chiefs he threw an interception and completed less than 60% of his passes. In the first meeting against San Diego, he threw for just 166 yards and in the second meeting he threw two interceptions before being pulled. He also completed less than 50% of his passes against the Steelers despite throwing for three touchdowns.
Once again the Colts were relatively quiet in free agency, only adding journeyman corner Patrick Robinson, who had a rebound year in San Diego after a shaky stint with New Orleans. Their quiet approach in free agency has left holes in their defense. Once again their run defense struggled as they allowed 122 rushing yards per game on average and opponents gained 4.3 yards per carry on average against them. They gave up 25.5 points per game, which was 25th in the league.
For years their calling card on defense was their ability to pressure the quarterback, and they struggled with that last season as they collected just 35 sacks, tied for 22nd in the league. But last season Robert Mathis and Kendall Langford tied for the team lead in sacks with just seven. Mathis is certainly not the player he used to be at his present age. Former first round pick Bjoern Werner was released this offseason after not registering a single sack last season, so it will be interesting to see where the pressure will come from.
I give the edge to the Texans because if the Colts can’t get to the quarterback, I doubt their defense will be very good. It will allow Osweiler to have time in the pocket and let Hopkins and Jaelen Strong opportunities to get down field and make plays.