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The Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans had similar regular seasons. Both teams had rocky starts to the year — Colts (1-5) and Texans (0-3) — before going on impressive winning streaks.
Before it was all said and done, the divisional foes from the AFC South each finished with 10 or more wins. The Texans (11-5) did manage to edge out the Colts (10-6) by one game, but the two regular-season matchups between them were split 1-1.
What’s makes things more interesting is that both teams won on the road by exactly three points. Does that mean that Indianapolis actually has the advantage in this game despite having to travel to NRG Stadium in Houston?
While these two teams have faced each other 34 times because they are division rivals, this will be their postseason encounter.
1. Andrew Luck vs. Deshaun Watson, Part III
The flow of the regular season isn’t the only thing the Colts and Texans have in common. As opposed to the other two teams in the AFC South, the two making an appearance in the playoffs have a consistent, franchise quarterback in place.
In other words, the most important position on the field is already taken care of, which makes a path to the postseason a lot easier.
The statistical success that each of these quarterbacks has seen against the other’s defense is fairly significant. Luck has thrown for 863 yards and six touchdowns while only tossing one interception in the first two meetings. Watson hasn’t been quite that impressive, but he’s still put up 719 total yards (642 passing, 77 rushing) and four total touchdowns (three passing, one rushing). The Clemson product has also completed 70 percent of his passes over those two performances.
If either team’s quarterback struggles, that could cause a lopsided victory in the other’s favor.
2. Which team’s offensive line can hold up the best?
If there’s one stark difference between the Colts and the Texans, it’s been the performance of the offensive lines. Indianapolis made a commitment in the offseason to get more protection for Luck, while the Texans – for the most part – continued to neglect the issue after missing out on left tackle Nate Solder in free agency.
The results have been significant, especially in the two matchups that these teams have already had. Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith have contributed to a unit that went on a five-game streak without giving up a sack. Against Houston, the Colts yielded did four sacks in the first game, but only surrendered two in the second.