AFC Wild-Card Preview: Indianapolis Colts vs Houston Texans


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The Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans will clash for the third time this season when the two division rivals battle in an AFC wild-card matchup on Saturday at NRG Stadium. The Colts lead the series, 26-8, and have won nine of the last 13 meetings.

Houston (11-5) won the AFC South title and would travel to New England for a Jan. 13 matchup against the Patriots with a victory. Indianapolis (10-6) finished in second place in the same division and would visit Arrowhead Stadium on Jan. 12 to battle the Kansas City Chiefs with a win over the Texans.

Andrew Luck and the Colts seventh-ranked offense is averaging 27.1 points a game this season and pounded the Tennessee Titans to clinch the final AFC playoff spot in Week 17. The 29-year-old quarterback finished second in the NFL with 39 touchdown passes while tallying 4,593 passing yards. Marlon Mack is the leading rusher with 908 yards and nine scores on 195 carries, while Jordan Wilkins (60-336-1) and Nyheim Hines (85-314-2) have combined for 650 yards. Top receiving threat T.Y. Hilton has overcome numerous injuries to post 76 catches for 1,270 yards and six touchdowns, and tight end Eric Ebron has a team-high 13 touchdowns on 66 receptions for 750 yards.

The Colts have the NFL's 11th-ranked defense and have limited opposing teams to just 101.6 rushing yards a game. Rookie linebacker Darius Leonard put together a dominant regular season with a league-high 163 tackles, seven sacks, two interceptions, and four forced fumbles. Second-year linebacker Anthony Walker registered 105 tackles, while safety Clayton Geathers has tallied 89 tackles. Defensive end Denico Autry leads the team with nine sacks, and Jabaal Sheard and Margus Hunt have collected 5.5 and five sacks, respectively. Cornerback Kenny Moore (3) and safety Malik Hooker (2) pace the secondary with five interceptions.

Second-year quarterback Deshaun Watson continued his climb towards the upper echelon of NFL signal-callers with a 103.1 quarterback rating and 4,165 passing yards. The former Clemson standout also threw 26 touchdowns and rushed for 551 yards despite getting sacked a whopping 62 times. Lamar Miller (210-973-5) and Alfred Blue (150-499-2) are the top running backs with a combined 1,472 yards, while Pro Bowl receiver DeAndre Hopkins finished among the league leaders with 115 receptions (3rd) for 1,572 yards (2nd) and 11 scores (5th).

The Texans feature the league's 12th-ranked defense and have stifled opposing teams to only 82.7 rushing yards a game. Linebackers Zach Cunningham (107-0-0) and Benardrick McKinney (105-1.5-1) have tallied a combined 212 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and a pair of interceptions. Safeties Tyrann Mathieu (89-3-2) and Justin Reid (88-0-3) have posted 177 tackles, three sacks, and have intercepted a trio of passes. Defensive end J.J. Watt finished second in the league with 16 sacks, while Jadeveon Clowney recorded nine sacks.

Houston 27, Indianapolis 21

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