Hayes: Five Keys to the Colts/Texans Matchup

Every once in a while I like to explore some different writers for their input; this week, Reggie Hayes writes a great, simple article on a few keys to keep in mind as the Colts travel to Houston.

Luck has a league-high 18 picks (tied with Drew Brees) and 13 of them have come on the road. Maybe it's the noise. Maybe it's playing from behind. Maybe it's the added pressure that teams find with their home fans pumping the adrenalin. Whatever it is, Luck needs to limit those picks. The Colts are 7-1 when Luck throws one or zero interceptions. That's not coincidence.

It doesn't look probable, but if Indy wins out, they would win the AFC South. This week against Houston – in Houston – will be the last chance for Indy to show us that they're a viable road team – and given their probable 5th or 6th seed in the playoffs, they will need to be.

For me, there is one key to this game: keep with the run. JJ Watt will have a field day if Luck is forced to throw; run the ball, and he'll have to think twice about overpursuing the quarterback. The run game gets the defensive line in check.

Against the Patriots, the game got out of hand when, mid way through the second, the Colts became a pass-only team. After that, DBs only concentrated on the pass, leading to more interceptions and incompletions. The run game gives Andrew Luck a fair chance in the passing game.

In wild comebacks against Green Bay, Tennessee, and Detroit, the run game got the Colts back into it in the third, especially on the first second-half drives (against the Lions and Titans). Against the Patriots, down by 7 – seven – the Colts panicked, abandoned the run game, and their offense became useless. The run game keeps the Colts offense moving forward, regardless of the situation.

I get it – with Carter done for 2-3 weeks and Brown out for the season, Vick Ballard will have his hands full. Still, if the Colts want any chance in Houston, it will be on him to perform well, more than anyone else on Indy's roster. Without the run game on the road, Indy's offense falls flat.