There are few secrets between the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans, divisional foes who have combined to win nine of the last 10 AFC South titles.
Frank Reich will face the Texans (4-2) for a fourth time in just his 22nd game as the Colts' head coach on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, a frequency that opened Reich to questions about the challenges of preparing for such a familiar opponent.
"It is certainly an interesting dynamic," Reich said.
In only his second season with Indianapolis (3-2), Reich is a relative newcomer to the rivalry. But after splitting the season series in 2018, the Colts throttled the Texans in Houston in a January wild-card playoff game.
"Yeah, it impacts it," Reich said. "We have to be more on top of our self-scout stuff. You don't want to play that game too much, it's kind of a give and take. What are they going to be looking for? How can we change it up on them? I know they're saying the same thing.
"They're going to try to change it up, but I think all coaches will tell you the same thing: You want to change it up a little bit, but you don't want to change it up too much. You want to do what you know you do well."
One fundamental tenet to the Colts' success is the exceptional play of their offensive line. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett, thrust into the starting role when Andrew Luck abruptly retired before the season, has been sacked 3.47 percent of the dropbacks, a mark that ranks fifth in the NFL.
Continuity has played as significant a role as talent in the protection of Brissett, with linemen Anthony Castonzo, Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, Mark Glowinski and Braden Smith each playing all 358 of the Colts' offensive snaps this season.
"The consistency that we've had out of that group and the toughness -- they've battled injuries but they've stayed together," Brissett said. "That's hard to do in the NFL, and our guys are doing a good job of it. And they're probably the strong suit of our team, them and our (defensive) line.
"Everything starts with the line of scrimmage, and they take pride in that, and we as a team take pride in that. So we go where they go."
Just when it appeared Houston was beginning to establish continuity on its line, rookie right tackle Tyrus Howard suffered a partially torn left MCL in last Sunday's 31-24 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. Howard should avoid surgery but will be sidelined for several weeks.
The Texans brought back veteran tackle Chris Clark as well as Dan Skipper to plug the gaps on a line that has not allowed a sack of quarterback Deshaun Watson in two straight games.
"When Chris was here (from 2015-17) ... he was a really good pro, leader, he had good leadership, very dependable guy," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said." Smart, tough, dependable, that's really what he was. Then Skip (Dan Skipper), we've been watching him, evaluating him for a while.
"He was on the New England practice squad, and we had a need at that position and felt like he could come in here and help us. He got here (Tuesday) and he's been studying the playbook."
Offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson was placed on the reserve/non-football injury list with a back injury, though O'Brien declined to offer details.
--Field Level Media