Texans-Colts: Five matchups to watch

Texans-Colts: Five matchups to watch
November 3, 2013, 9:00 am
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Shooting the Bull: Keenum the right move?

(USA Today Images)

The Texans (2-5) are hosting the Colts (5-2) at Reliant Stadium on Sunday in an AFC South battle. Here are five matchups to watch:

Duane Brown and Derek Newton vs. Robert Mathis
Mathis has 11.5 sacks through seven games to lead the NFL. He’s getting great pass rush without a whole lot of pass rushing help.

"First and foremost, he plays harder than any defender in the league," Brown said. "He's a little undersized, he's about 240 or so but he plays a lot bigger than that."

Robert Mathis is the right outside linebacker, which means he would go against Brown. But Mathis moves around a lot and the matchup against right tackle Newton might be too much to pass up.

J.J. Watt vs. Mike McGlynn
Watt is a player to watch every week. Even while the Texans have been losing, it’s been worth watching Watt.

“Every game for me is a must win,” Watt said. “You know me. Every single game is a must win for me. I attack every single game with the exact same mindset and that’s do whatever it takes to win the football game.”

McGlynn spent two season with the Eagles and one with the Bengals before becoming a starter with the Colts in 2012.

But he hasn't been very good. He has a negative-8.4 grade from ProFootballFocus this season, which ranks him as the 62 best guard (out of 71) in the NFL.

McGlynn will need some help, or Watt will have a field day.

D.J. Swearinger vs. Coby Fleener
The Colts will definitely miss having Reggie Wayne on Sunday. The Pro Bowler is out for the rest of the season.

But without Wayne, the Colts will start T.Y. Hilton and Darrius Heyward-Bey, two receivers with a ton of speed. That’ll open up the middle of the field for tight end Fleener. That’s where strong safety Swearinger is going to need to come up big.

DeAndre Hopkins vs. Cassius Vaughn or Darius Butler
Starting cornerback Greg Toler is out with a groin injury, which means either Vaughn or Butler will start. Andre Johnson will likely battle with Vontae Davis, so that leaves Hopkins for the other guy.

Hopkins has had a very good start to his rookie season and will have a chance to do some damage on Sunday. Before the bye week, Hopkins told CSN Houston he would give himself a two out of 10 for his season through seven games. Why a two? That’s how many wins the team has. He’ll keep getting better.

Case Keenum vs. Colts safeties
The City of Houston got its wish on Monday, when Gary Kubiak named Keenum the team’s starting quarterback. The University of Houston product had a very good NFL debut against the Chiefs two weeks ago but the Texans still lost. This week, the Texans need a win. Really, they’ll need wins the rest of the way.

“I think, obviously, I’m very excited that everybody is behind me and excited,” Keenum said. “I’m more excited than everybody else. There’s nobody more excited than me.”

But to get a win on Sunday, the Texans will have to beat the Colts and the Colts have two very good safeties in Antoine Bethea and LaRon Landry, who is finally healthy. An ankle injury sidelined Landry early this season but now he's back, which only helps the Colts.

Keenum will have to know where both of these guys are on Sunday.