Here's an exciting, realistic path to victory for Houston Texans in home opener
What: Colts @ Texans
When: 9/17 12pm CST kickoff
Where: Houston, TX NRG Stadium
TV/Radio: KHOU-TV, KILT-Radio
Betting Lines: Colts -1 (-110), O/U 40 (-110) *As of this writing
The Texans home opener this season is against the division rival Colts. Both teams enter the game with some similarities. They both start rookie quarterbacks. They both have former players as head coach. Both have general managers that have a coaching background, and have owners who are eccentric in their own ways. The Colts and Texans also have defenses their teams will rely upon until the offenses catch up. Let's take a look at the matchup:
When the Colts have the ball: The Texans defensive line is up and coming. This matchup will largely determine the outcome of this game. While Anthony Richardson was seen as an athletic freak this past draft season, the Texans just sacked Lamar Jackson four times in their first game. We're talking about a former league MVP and one of the fastest players in the league. Richardson was also sacked four times in his debut against the Jags. Richardson didn't have a great day rushing either (10 carries for 40 yards and a touchdown, with his longest run being 12 yards). Their receivers also don't scare me. I can see the Texans dictating things with their stout play along the front. As long as they stop the run, they'll force the Colts into down and distances that favor their pass rush.
When the Texans have the ball: I think C.J. Stroud held the ball way too long against the Ravens. Some of the sacks and hits he took came from him trying to make a play down the field instead of dumping it off or throwing it away. Look for the Colts to apply pressure to attempt to force him into mistakes. I expect the Texans to counter that with more quick throws. More three and five step drops over anything. Also, look for Dameon Pierce to get a ton of carries. Other running backs should get touches as well, but look for Pierce to tote the rock at least 15-20 times. This will take the pressure off Stroud. The Jags ran it 35 times for 105 yards against this Colts defense. They kept pounding the rock and relied on their defense, while using the pass game when necessary. Running 52% of the time despite averaging only 3.0 per carry was a choice that paid off. Quick throws, running the ball relentlessly, and play action passes will lead to success. The Texans offensive line isn't in a state where they can be relied upon fully. However, lineman love to run block. That's their best bet to overtake the Colts' defensive line.
Outcome: I see the Texans pulling off a 20-16 win. It'll be a close game. I can see a turnover for the Texans defense either leading to an easy touchdown, or scoring a defensive touchdown. The game will come down to the Colts kicking a field goal late, then relying on their defense to get the ball back, down 17-16. Texans will drive the field and kick a field goal with about a minute or so left to go up 20-16. The game will end with a Will Anderson Jr sack of Anthony Richardson, or he'll pressure him into a bad throw and incompletion.