at Houston Texans
Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET, at Reliant Stadium, Houston - TV: NBC
*TV announcers: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya
*Keys to the game: Both teams are coming off bye weeks in which they took time to address significant issues. The Colts are still banged up on both sides of the ball. The offense won't change much without injured wide receiver Reggie Wayne
, but quarterback Andrew Luck is facing one of the league's most dangerous defenses minus his most trusted target in key situations. RB Trent Richardson
hasn't made a game-changing impact since arriving from Cleveland, but Indianapolis does stay committed enough to the run to prevent the Texans' fierce pass rush from selling out. And FB Stanley Havili is proving to be an excellent outlet receiver. Defensively, the Colts could be without multiple ailing cornerbacks. That's music to the ears of new Texans QB Case Keenum
, who is now on a nine-game audition for his future. The onus is on RBs Arian Foster and Ben Tate to pound away at the league's 28th-ranked run defense and help Houston own time of possession. Keenum showed against Kansas City that he's up to the task of playing in the NFL, but he won't win this game on his own if forced to routinely drive the length of the field while playing from behind.
*Matchup to watch - Colts CB Darius Butler vs. Texans TE Garrett Graham/WR Keshawn Martin
: Butler has been a revelation in the slot for Indianapolis and leads the team with a pair of interceptions. No wideout other than Andre Johnson or DeAndre Hopkins has more than eight receptions for Houston.
*Player spotlight - Colts WR Darius Heyward-Bey: Teammates say Heyward-Bey is one of the hardest workers on the team, regularly staying to work with the JUGGS machine. While he does have 18 receptions, he also has let several catchable balls hit the turf. If that continues, the Colts will feel the immediate impact of the loss of the ultra-dependable Wayne.
*Fast facts: Richardson is averaging just 3.0 yards on 75 carries for the Colts. ... The Texans have a minus-11 turnover margin despite leading the league with an average of 33:52 time of possession per game.
WHO WILL WIN AND WHY
The Colts have a firm grasp on the AFC South, but their rallying cry this week is that Houston is still the two-time reigning division champs despite Houston's struggles this season.
*Our pick: Colts 23-16
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