Coming off their first win of the season, the Indianapolis Colts will host the AFC South Champion Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium on Thursday night. Indianapolis has dominated the annuals series, winning 16 of the first 18 meetings entering the 2011 season. The Texans have won two of the last three, however, including a 34-7 win in the 2011 regular season-opener at Reliant Stadium on September 11, 2011.
The Colts at 1-13, the Texans gearing up for their first playoff appearance in franchise history and injuries have drained a lot of the star power that was expected to make this a premier showdown to kick off the final two weeks of the regular season. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning has not played nor practiced since undergoing a third operation on his neck in 15 months. As he has been all season, Manning has been ruled "Out" for Thursday night and will not play in Week 17, either.
Houston is also without their Pro Bowl quarterback, losing Matt Schaub to a season-ending foot injury. His replacement, Matt Leinart, was lost for the season to a broken collarbone in his first start, leaving 2011 fifth-round pick T.J. Yates to lead the club to the post-season. Yates has had some up-and-down performance in three starts, the last two of which have come without the services of perennial Pro Bowl wide receiver Andre Johnson, who will miss a third straight game with a left hamstring injury.
Yates' inexperience, Johnson's continued absence and the Colts' 28th-ranked run defense could lead to a big performance from Arian Foster, who despite missing much of the first month of the season with a hamstring injury, ranks sixth in the NFL with 1,066 rushing yards this season. In two career games against the Colts, both in 2010, Foster has 333 yards and four touchdowns.
Game Date/Time: Thursday, December 22; 8:20pm ET
Location: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana
National: NFL Network
TV Distribution Map: The506.com
Colts: AM 1070 WFNI / 97.1 HANK FM
Texans: SR610 AM/100.3 KILT FM/1010 AM