Tribune Star Correspondent
INDIANAPOLIS — The game -- Indianapolis Colts (9-4, 3-1 AFC South) at Houston Texans (11-2, 4-0 AFC South), 1 p.m. (ET), Reliant Stadium (FieldTurf), Houston, TX.
Coverage -- CBS Sports (Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts); Colts Radio Network (Bob Lamey, Will Wolford, Kevin Lee); Sirius NFL Radio (Channel 104, Colts; Channel 91, Texans); XM NFL Radio (Channel 225, Texans).
The coaches -- Colts: Bruce Arians, interim (8-2, 1st year with Indianapolis). Texans: Gary Kubiak (58-51, 7th year with Houston).
The series -- 21st regular-season meeting. Colts lead series, 17-3. Indianapolis is 10-0 against the Texans in home games. The Colts are 7-3 against Houston in games played at Reliant Stadium. Indianapolis has posted victories in eight of the last 10 and four of the last six meetings. The Texans, however, have won the last two matchups played at Reliant Stadium by a combined score of 68-31 (9/12/10, 34-24; 9/11/11, 34-7). The Colts have not won at Reliant Stadium since 11/29/09 (35-27). Two of Indianapolis' three series losses have been by 10 or fewer points (12/24/06, 27-24; 9/12/10, 34-24). Indianapolis and Houston split their home-and-home season series last year, the Texans winning 34-7 at Reliant Stadium in the 2011 regular-season opener and the Colts registering a 19-16 victory on 12/22/11. Indianapolis won last year's game at home when former Colts QB Dan Orlovsky threw a 1-yard TD pass to WR Reggie Wayne with 19 seconds in the game to complete the come-from-behind victory.
Notes -- Indianapolis is seeking its fourth straight win over an AFC South team. The Colts are 3-1 in the division after last week's 27-23 home-field victory over Tennessee...The Colts (9-4) can clinch a playoff spot by winning at Houston (11-2...Indianapolis is 8-1 in one-possession games so far this season...The Colts have made a nine-game improvement over last season (0-13)through the 14th week of the regular season...Indianapolis can join the 2008 Miami Dolphins as the only teams in NFL history to win 10 games after losing at least 14 the previous season...The Colts have trailed at the half eight times in 13 games this season...Indianapolis has allowed a 100-yard receiver in its past six consecutive games...Since 2006, Texans WR Andre Johnson has had 60 receptions for 768 yards and five TDs in 10 games against the Colts...Houston RB Justin Forsett played for the Colts in 2008...Three Colts grew up in Houston: QB Andrew Luck, DE Cory Redding and WR Donnie Avery...QB Andrew Luck has passed for 3,792 yards this season, breaking the franchise rookie passing record. Former Colts QB Peyton Manning had set the mark (3,739) in 1998...Luck has directed Indianapolis to six game-winning drives in the fourth quarter of overtime this season. That's the most by a rookie since the 1970 merger and one shy of Manning's all-time NFL record set in 1999 and 2009...Luck is the first quarterback drafted No. 1 overall to post a winning record as a rookie. The Colts' nine wins are the most by a rookie quarterback who was drafted No. 1 overall in the Super Bowl era (since 1966)...WR Reggie Wayne has registered 956 career receptions. He moved past Andre Reed (951) into the No. 10 slot all-time...Wayne has recorded six seasons with at least 1,200 yards receiving. That ties him with Marvin Harrison and Torry Holt. Only Jerry Rice (11) and Randy Moss (8) have more...Wayne needs six receptions to reach 100 for the fourth time in his career. That would also tie him for the most in NFL history...WR T.Y. Hilton has four 100-yard receiving games this season...OLB Dwight Freeney has registered 15.5 sacks against the Texans for a loss of 112.5 yards. That's the most sacks that he's had against any NFL team. Freeney also has recorded three passes broken up and four forced fumbles in 18 career games with Houston...OLB Robert Mathis has 14.5 sacks for losses of 111.5 yards with nine forced fumbles, two passes broken up and two fumble recoveries in 17 career games against Houston...PK Adam Vinatieri has connected on 24-of-29 career field goal attempts against the Texans. His longest career field goal against Houston is 48 yards.
Did you know? -- WR Reggie Wayne has hauled in 12 touchdown catches in 20 career games with the Texans. That's the most that he's had against any NFL team.
Stat of the week -- Colts defenders have covered a total of 18 yards in returning interceptions for touchdowns this season. CB Darius Butler (11 vs. Jacksonville), ILB Jerrell Freeman (4 vs. Chicago) and CB Cassius Vaughn (3 vs. Tennessee).
The game plan -- Start faster.
The Colts have been sluggish out of the blocks this season, especially in road losses to Chicago, New England and the New York Jets.
Indianapolis has to be able to start faster offensively and to limit their turnovers. The Colts have been in a giving mood in most of their road games this season. That can't happen at Houston and expect to stay in the game.
Defensively, Indianapolis has to find a way to limit what the Texans do on the ground. Houston is also adept at throwing the football, so getting pressure up front is a key.
Key matchups -- Colts QB Andrew Luck vs. Texans pass defense. Luck has had his struggles on the road. He has completed 160-of-257 passes for 1,838 yards, eight touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He is averaging 43 pass attempts on the road, including 50 and 54 in his last two road games with New England and Detroit. Luck is also averaging 306.3 yards per game away from Lucas Oil Stadium. Houston ranks 19th in the league in pass defense, allowing an average of 239.2 yards per game. The Texans have recorded 37 sacks and picked off 15 passes.
Texans DE J.J. Watt vs. Colts pass protection. Watt has been a one-man wrecking crew for Houston with a team-leading 87 total tackles, 16.5 sacks, 27 tackles for loss, 34 quarterback hits and 15 passes broken up. Oh yeah. He also has two forced fumbles and two fumbles recovered. Just who will block Watt remains unknown as injuries have ravaged the Colts' offensive line.
Colts WR Reggie Wayne vs. Texans secondary. Wayne has made a career out of playing Houston. He has 117 career catches against Houston for 1,523 yards and 20 TDs. He is averaging 5.6 catches and 13 yards per receptions vs. the Texans. Wayne will probably see a lot of cornerbacks Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph, along with safeties Danieal Manning and Glover Quin. Jackson has a team-high four interceptions.