As we enter the final week of the 2012 NFL regular season game, the Houston Texans meet their old (in Texans existence terms, that is,) foes the Indianapolis Colts for the second time in three weeks. Having just met two Sundays ago, both teams have a really good idea of what to expect from the other. Game planning and player motivation will be at fevered pitch, fans of each team hope, as Colts HC Chuck Pagano plans to play his starters in a game of little consequence to the Colts who are locked into the 5 seed in the AFC Playoff race. For the Texans, it’s win or potentially lose home-field throughout the playoffs, not to mention the bye week the Texans had so assuredly locked up just a few short weeks ago. Essentially, either the Patriots or the Broncos need to lose and the Texans must win to get the much desired bye AND home-field throughout the playoffs. At lot is at stake for the Texans and the Colts look to be playing to win.
Once again, we bring in our favorite Colts blogger, Kyle Rodriguez of ColtsAuthority.com, @ColtsAuth_Kyle on Twitter to explain what will likely happen on field and in the Colts fans hearts in this final week, AFC South blow out. With much input from @TxBobbumman and @The_Abman_Mon from Twitter regarding questions, here are Kyle’s responses.
Were any lessons learned or has anybody gotten healthy to help slow down the Texans pass rush, specifically JJ Watt?
Right tackle Winston Justice should be healthy this time around, and he’s definitely an upgrade over Jeff Linkenbach in the pass protection department, but it likely won’t be enough to stop Watt. Rumor is that Watt’s performance last time woke up the Colts’ management a little bit, realizing that players like Mike McGlynn aren’t going to cut it. For Colts’ fans, it’s a bit shocking that it took that game for them to realize the OL’s ineptitude, but there likely won’t be many changes back.
Will there be any difference to game planning and in-game adjustments with Coach Pagano back, offensively and defensively?
I don’t imagine any considerable changes. Pagano was fairly active in game planning and coaching from his hospital room throughout the year, and the Colts’ coordinators have a pretty good amount of freedom regardless. Bruce Arians and Greg Manusky will likely have control of the reins in terms of play calling. The difference will come in in-game adjustments and aggressiveness, neither of which fans had confidence in under Arians.
Is there any concern about the number of late comebacks required of Luck against one of the league’s weaker schedules?
Not at all. Sure, the Colts’ have a playoff team, but they still have a terrible roster. They need about 10 new starters to be a viable contender, and that’s not even looking at the complete lack of depth at most of the positions. The Colts’ simply don’t have the playmakers to sustain blowouts or even convincing wins. The fact that the team was able to win as many close games as they have is a testament to the young players’ confidence and the veteran leadership on the team, not to mention the late-game quarterbacking of Andrew Luck.
With the Colts locked in at 5th slot, do they try to win or rest key players?
It sounds like they are going to try to get a win and go into the playoffs with some momentum.
What surprised you about the last meeting only two weeks ago?
I was surprised the Colts were able to hang in the game as long as they did. The Texans’ inability to score touchdowns let the Colts stay in the game, and if the offensive line had been able to contain Watt at all, they may have come out of Houston with a win. The talent disparity between these two rosters is massive, and the Texans should have the talent on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball to stay up and in the league.
Would it mean anything special or extra to the Colts team and/or fans to deny Houston homefield advantage?
It would be nice for the Colts to try to keep their perfect home record against Houston intact, but that’s the only real benefit the Colts would get from this one. The team likely has a better chance against Houston than they would against DEN or NE in the divisional round, and a win would ensure that. But, don’t expect the Colts to lie down on Chuck Pagano’s first game back.
Thanks again to Kyle and our Twitter fans for your input throughout the week and the 2012 season. Stay tuned for the Texans playoff matchups and more #KnowYourOpponent throughout (we plan!) the playoff contest. Your questions and input are invaluable. Please send your questions for the playoff matchups as they become apparent to @TheClaireBear23 and we’ll do our best to get your queries answered in the week(s) to come. Cheers and Go Texans!