The Indianapolis Colts take on the Houston Texans tonight in a game that could be a deciding factor on who wins the battle for being the representative the AFC South in the playoffs.  The winner of tonight’s game will take the top spot in the division, as both teams enter the contest with 6-4 records.  They have each won six and lost four and are fairly well matched on defense and offense.  This one could be a nail-biter.

AFC South Playoffs Battle

Deshaun Watson needs to step up his game if the Texans want a shot at the win.  He has one of the slowest snap-to-throw speeds of the league at 2.79 seconds.  However, he also has decent coverage from his line.  On more than one occasion, he has been able to scramble in the pocket for as many as ten seconds trying to find someone open.  That speaks highly of the line, even though they slacked off during the game against the Baltimore Ravens, but not so much of the wide receivers and their ability to shake the defense.

The Colts are hoping T.Y. Hilton will be strong enough to play in this huge game in the AFC South battle.  The wide receiver is fundamental to its offense, but is currently listed as questionable due to a calf injury.  He proved himself against the Texans when the two teams met last month, helping take the Colts to a 30-23 victory.  Running back Marlon Mack, with his fractured hand, is definitely out, which means either Jordan Wilkins, Jonathan Williams or Nyheim Hines – or all three – will have to find some additional juice from somewhere to fill the void.

Where the Colts will get a little relief from their list of NFL injuries is from quarterback Jacoby Brissett.  As long as he is protected, he will be able to make some key passing plays to keep the pressure on the Texans defense.  That defensive line is ranked 26th in the league and hasn’t put on a good showing; the Texans secondary with linebackers Brennan Scarlett and Whitney Mercilus will need to try to fill in the gaps.

This game is important to both teams in the battle for the AFC South playoff battle and tensions are going to be high even before they take the field.  There is a lot riding on how both teams perform tonight, and one slip can be the difference between a playoff appearance and watching the postseason games from a local pub.  The Colts have five more games after tonight, only one of which, against the New Orleans Saints, might be trouble.

The Texans also have five more games and have to face the New England Patriots on December 1.  They also have to face the Tennessee Titans twice next month, adding a little bit of pressure (but just a little) to the end of the season.

Looking back at the rivalry between these two teams, the Colts lead 27-8, including one win in last year’s playoffs.  They have already beaten the Texans once this year and, even though Houston is the favorite to win at a moneyline of -190 in the NFL odds, the Colts could definitely squeak by and add another victory tonight.