Colts vs. Texans: Keys to victory in Week 18

Well…here we are. The finale to one of the most disappointing Indianapolis Colts seasons of the past few years.

This team had lots of promise in training camp but, needless to say, has not lived up to the hype. With a revolving door at quarterback, major offense line concerns, and a coaching change on the horizon, it will be an eventful offseason in Indianapolis.

The Colts can end this season on a high note as they host the Texans on Sunday.

Houston is just one loss away from locking up the No. 1 draft pick in April. The Colts can lock up a top-five pick—or even higher—with a loss.

Jeff Saturday, however, will want to show he has what it takes to lead this squad in the future and potentially get another shot at coaching, improbable as it should seem.

Here are the keys to victory for the Colts on Sunday against the Texans:

Pound the rock

(Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports)

This offense looked drastically different this year for a multitude of reasons, one of them being a loss of identity. This team was the best in the league at running the ball a year ago and has fallen off a cliff in that category during the 2022 season. In fact, they rank 24th this season in total rushing yards.

Obviously, Jonathan Taylor’s injury-riddled season has hurt this team’s ability to move the ball on the ground, but that does not excuse the poor play of the offensive line that hasn’t made it easy for anyone carrying the ball. If the Colts want to avoid a loss to end the year, they need to find a way to get Zack Moss and Deon Jackson going.

Get in the backfield

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We have seen amazing growth from Kwity Paye and Dayo Odeyingbo in their second years. The young pass-rush duo will be one of the things this defense builds off of for next season, and they have one more chance to really make an impact on Sunday. The Texans offensive line has allowed 37 sacks this year, and the Colts will be looking to add a few more.

Davis Mills is a limited quarterback throwing and running the ball, so there is no reason the Indianapolis defensive front can’t pressure him all afternoon and force the ball out of his hands. They have also struggled to run the ball, so a solid pass rush will make sure they can’t match down the field.

Expose the secondary

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Sam Ehlinger will make his third career start on Sunday and will have everything to prove. It’s likely the Colts will draft a quarterback in the first round of the NFL draft, meaning Ehlinger’s job could be on the hot seat. Expect the quarterback from Texas to throw the ball down the field as he tries to prove he belongs in this system.

The responsibility also falls on the receivers, who have been less than impressive in the second half of the season, outside of Michael Pittman Junior. This secondary is young but vulnerable. Finding the openings will be a key X-factor if Indy wants to ignite the passing game in week 18.

Don’t overthink it

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Look. The Texans know what’s at stake. While giving their fans something to cheer for is great, I’m sure most of the people in Houston would rather have the first pick in the draft over a meaningless win. Not saying they will lose on purpose, but the organization knows how beneficial a guy like Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud could be for this rebuilding franchise.

Jeff Saturday just needs to keep things simple, don’t try anything risky, and let his guys showcase their talents against the worst team in the league. Even with all the issues this Colts squad faced this year, they are still filled with talent that will help keep fans optimistic going forward. Let’s have some fun before the wave of changes happens in the off-season.

Story originally appeared on Colts Wire