By HCR Staff | Jan. 5, 2019
In a year where the NFL saw numerous high-scoring games throughout the first half of the season, playoff football is bringing back a much more balanced game. And if there is one word to describe the strength of the Indianapolis Colts, “balance” would be the word. It was on full display Saturday afternoon as the Colts overwhelmed the Houston Texans in their Wild Card matchup.
In short, this Colts team is well-rounded, and that is its strength. They can throw the ball when they want to throw it, and they can run it when they want to run it. On defense, they are very sound — you can see that prior to every snap. It’s a defense that is ready, and one in which there are very few communication breakdowns. The Colts can apply pressure, rally to the run, and do a good job in the secondary playing the ball.
Sprinkle in a punter that finished third in the NFL in net yards and the greatest clutch kicker in NFL history, and you have a team that is a strong Super Bowl contender.
There aren’t a lot of teams remaining in the tournament that exhibit this kind of balance. The New Orleans Saints have it, as do the Los Angeles Rams. The New England Patriots also have balance, but to a lesser extent due to a lack of explosiveness.
The key to the Colts’ 21-7 win over Houston was the first two Colts offensive drives. On the opening drive, which they took for a touchdown, the Colts converted on third-and-12 and third-and-7 against a good Texans defense playing behind a home crowd. After going ahead 7-0, the next Colts offensive possession converted a key third-and-5, on its way to a 14-0 lead. Therefore, in the first two Colts offensive drives, the Texans defense failed to get off the field on three third-and-long opportunities, and that set the tone for the rest of the game.
After the Texans rallied from an O-3 start to the season, this ending must be somewhat bittersweet. It is a promising team, but there are some glaring holes that will need to be addressed in the offseason. The defensive secondary group will need to be upgraded, as well as the offensive line and greater depth at receiver. Too often, we see quarterback Deshaun Watson simply have to rely on his own athletic ability to make plays and the offense too often is working off-schedule.
The AFC South is turning into one of the best divisions in football, and if the Jacksonville Jaguars reload with a better quarterback, AFC South divisional games will be fun to watch in 2019.