This Sunday the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts will kick off their 2010 Regular Season against each other in an all out offensive division rivalry. The Colts maintain a powerful 12-1 record against the Texans, but this first game of the season may be the start of the Texans franchise’s maturity and prowess.
What to Look For
Both the Texans and the Colts have high powered offenses structured around a solid starting quarterback, an All-Pro receiver, and a set of running backs that keep defenses honest. The defenses for both teams have never been their team’s strength. In fact, but for Bob Sanders, the Colts defense remains one of the leagues bottom 20 along with the Texans.
QB Matt Schaub and WRs Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter, Jacoby Jones and David Anderson. Schaub knows how to get the ball around and expect him to utilize his full arsenal of receivers and even running backs Arian Foster and Steve Slaton. Andre Johnson is arguably the league’s best receiver. He has the size, speed and maturity to drive the field himself. Walter, Jones and Anderson are always “open,” and by that they mean only one man’s covering them. Expect Schaub to continue his success against the Colts.
RBs Arian Foster and Steve Slaton. Foster has never rushed against the Colts, but his resume shouldn’t be reason to worry that he should have trouble rushing against the Colts. The Colts aren’t known for their run stopping abilities, and the Texans should utilize their pounder (Foster) and speed third down back (Slaton) against the Colts Sunday.
Owen Daniels’ Playing Time. Today head coach Gary Kubiak told HoustonTexans.com that Daniels will take approximately 15-20 snaps on Sunday. He’s been out since Week 8 of 2009 with an ACL tear and has been pronounced ready for Week 1 sometime now. He’s been looking good in practice and Kevin Walter said Daniels looks like his old self. Daniels hopes to start but understand is back up Joel Dreessen is the starter. Coming back from a knee injury is one of the hardest things to do for football players, especially tight ends who rely on their legs and the gravitational rotation of weight in blocking and setting up plays on offense. Expect Daniels to play like hard as usual, but if any remnant of his knee injury returns expect him to sit until healthy.
Texans Defense. The Texans defense will be put to the test Sunday. They aren’t 1-12 against the Colts for nothing. Even when the D’s up on the Colts, even 21 points up, the Colts and Peyton Manning still have a chance. Its like Kobe and the Rockets…always waiting until the fourth quarter. The good news though is that the Texans D has improved by leaps and bounds, and their new found confidence and leadership should keep the Colts surprised enough for players like Bernard Pollard, DeMeco Ryans and Mario Williams to make plays.
Peyton Manning. Manning is the best of the best. His ability to know the plays inside and out, read defenses, connect with his receivers just at the right spot, and produce fourth quarter come backs make him a fear factor for defenses. With receivers Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Pierre Garcon, Anthony Gonzalez (finally healthy) and Austin Collie, Manning should give the Texans a run for their money, and push the Texans D harder than they’ve ever been pushed…well since last year’s Week 1 match up against the Jets.
Joseph Addai and Donald Brown. Although these two backs aren’t the most flashiest or sexiest fantasy running backs, they hone their role for the Colts: run it, run it, and score when you’re on the goal line. Every Texan remembers the Sharpstown back, Joseph Addai, wrecking the Texans in his first year in the league. And if you don’t know Donald Brown, pray the Texans don’t let you get a glimpse of what he can do. In a limited role, him and Addai accounted for 62 receptions for three touchdown and 1,109 yards on the ground for 13 touchdowns. The Texans know not to take the Colts’ run game lightly.
Bob Sanders. Can Bob Sanders inspire the Colts Defense like Bernard Pollard does for the Texans? Yes. With Sanders the Colts are a Super Bowl team. To beat him, expect the Texans to keep the Colts’ D honest with the run and play action verticals to Andre Johnson. The Texans will have to keep Sanders on his toes and thinking too hard so that they’ll have room to make plays.
Starting C Jeff Saturday and LT Charlie Johnson. Saturday’s recovering from arthoscopic knee surgery earlier this offseason, and his return is questionable. He hopes to suit up. Johnson’s been out for a month with a right foot injury. He’ll be replaced by Jeff Linkenbach, an undrafted rookie from Cincinnati. If Saturday doesn’t play, Manning may be playing like he’s missing part of his brain. If a rookie’s starting on the left side, expect Super Mario tunes to be blaring all over Reliant Stadium Sunday.
Texans down Colts 27-24. Manning doesn’t resemble his Championship form, while Schaub and Johnson connect for scores. Foster makes a name for himself early, and the Texans are able to utilize their seasoned back ups in a long, hard fought and full 60-minute game.