Kickoff Saturday, Jan 6th 8:15pm Eastern

Texans (
24.25) at

Colts (

Over/Under 47.5


Key Matchups
Texans Run D
2nd DVOA/2nd Yards allowed per carry
Colts Run O
9th DVOA/16th Yards per carry
Texans Pass D
23rd DVOA/22nd Yards allowed per pass
Colts Pass O
17th DVOA/15th Yards per pass
Colts Run D
24th DVOA/15th Yards allowed per carry
Texans Run O
30th DVOA/26th Yards per carry
Colts Pass D
14th DVOA/19th Yards allowed per pass
Texans Pass O
12th DVOA/5th Yards per pass

Game Overview ::

By hilow >>
  • The playoff picture is crystal clear for the Texans and Colts – win and in. Should the Jaguars lose on Sunday, both teams still have a shot at winning the AFC South and hosting their first playoff game.
  • The Texans are a bit banged up at present – DE Will Anderson (ankle), FB Andrew Beck (calf), WR Noah Brown (back), DT Maliek Collins (hip), DE Jonathan Greenard (ankle), DT Sheldon Rankins (ankle), and WR Robert Woods (hip) have all yet to practice this week (as of Wednesday).
  • The Colts, on the other hand, are enjoying relative health to end the season, with only C Ryan Kelly (ankle) yet to practice this week.

How houston Will Try To Win ::

This game is honestly going to be one of the better “Xs and Os” chess matches of the weekend between Bobby Slowik/Gus Bradley and Shane Steichen/DeMeco Ryans. Gus Bradley, the Indianapolis defensive coordinator, has largely been dynamic in defensive play calling to start games this season but has fallen into a shell at times when the game progresses (or his defense is punched in the mouth). That has primarily manifested via increased rates of Cover-3 and Cover-4, against which C.J. Stroud and the Texans have performed at elite levels. The two quickest ways for Slowik and the Texans to force Bradley into those shells are through early scoring and/or an effective run game. As such, I expect the Texans to start with a dynamic run-balanced approach, which also gains pertinence considering the multitude of injuries to primary pass-catchers. Rookie Tank Dell is done for the season, while Noah Brown and Robert Woods have not sniffed the practice field through Wednesday. Most notably here, the Colts shifted to a heavier emphasis on Cover-4 and quarters after their Week 11 bye, which has required a successful run game to move them back to insane rates of Cover-3 during that time. There is no doubt in my mind that Slowik has noticed these tendencies, creating a much different setup than the last time these two teams met (way back in Week 2). Also, in that game, DeMeco Ryans was a brand new head coach and had to prepare for the dynamic Anthony Richardson, whereas now he has some experience under his belt and is preparing for the statuesque Gardner Minshew. There is some fun to be had in our exploration of this game!

The differences from the first time these two teams met do not end there. Dameon Pierce was the unquestioned lead back for the Texans in Week 2, seeing 15 carries and three targets. As we know, his inability to learn and adjust to a new (to him) run-blocking scheme has nerfed his efficiency this season and forced the team to turn to Devin Singletary as their primary runner. Pierce has just one game over a modest 20 percent snap rate since his mid-season injury, leaving Singletary to handle snap rates of 82, 46, 57, 75, 44, and 62 percent since Pierce’s return to the lineup. The 44 percent and 57 percent games came in blowout losses, while the 46 percent game came on Pierce’s seemingly last hurrah in Week 13 against the Broncos. In other words, Singletary is this team’s newfound and unquestioned lead back with his more adept abilities running behind a zone-gap run-blocking scheme. There has been some confusion in me saying “zone-gap” in the past, so allow me a quick minute to fully explain what this team is doing on the ground. Conceptually, a zone (inside and outside) run-blocking scheme utilizes increased rates of doubles along the line of scrimmage to generate two clear “zones” for the running back to attack (A and B), which is then left up to the running back to diagnose based primarily on the positioning of the linebackers. A gap scheme utilizes a down-blocking design typically involving pulling guards to generate a numbers advantage at the point of attack. Bobby Slowik has designed a run game that utilizes parallels from each of those concepts, resulting in something that appears new to the league. We’ve talked about this in the past, but Slowik is utilizing things like pulling tackles (demi-gap concept) alongside doubles on the edge (typically with the opposing tackle and the tight end; demi-zone concept) in his run scheme, hence “zone-gap.” In lamens terms, it’s that weird shit that the league hasn’t seen. Pierce is a prototypical zone rusher, capable of diagnosing the points of attack and reading the linebackers. Singletary is a more natural fit to gap concepts, which has likely made his transition to this new-look rushing scheme easier – hence the shift in primary ball carrier. In this spot, it will likely be up to Singletary and the run game to force the Colts into heavier rates of Cover-3, allowing Nico Collins to feast. That, in my opinion, is the game plan here.

Nico Collins is the alpha and the omega of this offense in its current state. Collins has put up absolutely insane numbers against Cover-3 this season, with a 31 percent TPRR and an insane 3.71 YPRR. His numbers against Cover-4 take a slight dip, although the sample size is extremely small, and almost all of it came with Tank Dell in the lineup (21 percent TPRR and 2.94 YPRR). Tight end Dalton Schultz carries 21 percent TPRR/1.6 YPRR and 22 percent TPRR/1.9 YPRR against those two primary coverages, respectively. These are important because the Colts have been in either Cover-3 or Cover-4 over 60 percent of the time since their Week 11 bye. We won’t know the full extent of the injuries to Brown and Woods until we get the full spectrum of information, which could take us all the way up to elevations/inactives. Each would return to primary roles should they make it back in time for the must-win game, while John Metchie and Xavier Hutchinson would be the two likeliest to see an increase in snap rate should one or both miss.

How indianapolis Will Try To Win ::

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