In a Thursday Night Football matchup that could determine the winner of the AFC South, both the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans will need to battle through injuries to get a win that will separate the two teams at the top of the division. Both teams sport 6-4 records coming into Thursday, but Indianapolis holds the tiebreaker thanks to a Week 7 home win over the Texans, as Fansided reported.
That win came at home. The Colts behind quarterback Jacoby Brissett will need to win on the road Thursday. Likely due to the road disadvantage, the Colts enter the matchup as 3-and-a-half-point underdogs, according to the Indianapolis Star. The Colts have gone 5-4-1 against the point spread this season, and 2-1-1 on the road.
Brissett returned to action on Sunday after missing a week with a knee injury suffered in a Week 9 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. But the 26-year-old, who was picked by the New England Patriots in the third round of the 2016 draft, did not appear to be fully recovered despite the Colts’ win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Brissett threw just 24 times in that game for 148 yards, including a touchdown, to post a 76.4 quarterback rating, his lowest of the season.
Nonetheless, the Thursday night matchup in Houston is arguably the most important game in Brissett’s career as a full-time starter since he unexpectedly took over from Andrew Luck, after Luck suddenly retired shortly before the start of the 2019 season.
Watch former NFL coach Brian Billick preview the Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans Thursday Night Football clash, in the video below.
The Colts hope to get some help for Brissett with the return of receiver T.Y. Hilton, who is listed as a gamete decision with a nagging calf injury that has sidelined him for three straight games. With the Texans ranking 29th in pass yardage allowed this season, the presence of Hill would give the Colts a significant advantage.
The Texans remain without All-Pro defensive end J.J. Watt, who is out for the season with a torn left pectoral muscle. Watt’s absence will also relieve some pressure on Brissett.
A win for the Colts not only puts them at 7-4, but the tiebreaker over Houston would give them, in effect, a two-game lead in the division over Houston, all but assuring them of their first division title since 2014.
But as The Star reported, a win for Houston gives the Texans an edge. Though the teams would split the first two tiebreakers — head-to-head record, and divisional record (with both at 3-1) — Houston currently has an advantage in wins over common opponents.
With wins over the Los Angeles Chargers and Oakland Raiders, the Texans have a two-game lead over Indy in that third tiebreaker. The Colts, if they lose on Thursday, would need to defeat the New Orleans Saints at home in Week 15, and the Carolina Panthers on the road the following week to claim that tiebreaker as well.