Thursday Night Preview: Colts vs. Texans

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Updated: October 8, 2015
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Well, the quarterbacks who began the season as the starter for these two teams won’t be under center on Thursday night. Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck will miss his second consecutive game with a shoulder injury that’s yet to completely heal, while the Houston Texans will go with Ryan Mallett as their starter for the second straight week.

Both teams will come into this game a bit dissatisfied about the way they’ve begun the year. The Colts are 2-2, but haven’t put together a full game yet. They certainly aren’t the team we saw last season on offense, and the defense has, remarkably, been able to keep them in games. They were physically abused by both the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets in the first two weeks, then needed a 21-point fourth quarter to defeat the Tennessee Titans in Week 3. They found a way to hold on against Jacksonville Sunday, but we can place a ton of that blame on Jaguars kicker Jason Myers — who missed a field goal to win the game in regulation, and missed a second potential game-winner in overtime.

Matt Hasselbeck started in Week 4 for the Colts, and finished the day going 30-of-47 for 282 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions. He completed passes to six different receivers. Most importantly, he was able to come away with a win. The Colts are hoping the 40-year old will be able to work some of his magic for a second straight game tonight. But he does have a bacterial infection and has been taking antibiotics. He told NFL Network reporter Stacey Dales that he hopes he can make it through four quarters. They signed Josh Johnson as an emergency quarterback in case he’s unable to finish the game.

Week 4 was an absolute mess for the Texans (1-3). The Atlanta Falcons jumped out to a 42-0 lead — yes, 42-0 — before Houston was finally able to score a touchdown. Brian Hoyer was put into the game after Mallett struggled, going 12-of-27 for just 150 yards and one interception. But, nevertheless, Texans coach Bill O’Brien decided to stick with Mallett as his starter — at least for this week.

Arian Foster returned for the Texans Sunday, making his season debut. But he only gained 10 yards on eight rushing attempts. Houston is hoping he can find a groove so it can relieve some pressure from Mallett, or whoever is at quarterback. Without a strong rushing attack, the Texans don’t have much of a shot to compete for an AFC wild-card spot. Their defense hasn’t held up well this year either, other than J.J. Watt, who has four of the team’s six sacks on the season.

But they’ve given up 27 points per game, which is tied for 26th in the NFL, and they’re giving up 344 yards per game, with 115.3 of those coming on the ground. If they aren’t able to run the ball, and unable to stop the run on the opposite side, they don’t have a recipe for success — especially with their quarterback situation.

Like the Texans, the Colts could also use more production out of the backfield. Frank Gore has just 227 rushing yards after four weeks, and has yet to have a 100-yard game. If they can get him going, it could open things up down the field for T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief. Hilton, who was a Pro Bowl wide receiver last season, has zero touchdown catches thus far.

This is an important game for each team. The Colts would be honored to go on a three-game winning streak, with Luck missing two of those contests. And the Texans could build some momentum for themselves with a huge victory over an AFC South rival. I don’t expect it to be a high scoring game tonight. With the sporadic quarterback play from both teams, it may come down to which side wins the turnover battle.

Josiah Turner

Josiah Turner

Josiah is the founder and editor-in-chief at Sideline Sports Report. He is a writer for ESPN, and has written for Rant Sports and FanSided covering the Washington Redskins. He's also covered high school basketball for Virginia Preps (Rivals.com). Josiah is from Chesapeake, VA and a college graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University.

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