Colts division rival shows up on PFF’s strongest, weakest position groups in 2024

Pro Football Focus recently took a closer look at the strongest and weakest position groups in the NFL following free agency and the draft. The Indianapolis Colts did not make the list, however, their rival the Texans did, specifically the Houston linebackers.

Here is what PFF had to say about the Texans’ linebacker position:

“The Texans have the opposite of star power at linebacker, led by Christian Harris (64.9 PFF grade in 2023) and the newly signed Azeez Al-Shaair (64.7). Houston will need strong defensive line play to help a linebacker unit that has graded as the NFL’s worst over the past two years.”

If the Colts also view the Texans’ linebacker unit as a position group that can be exploited, then leaning on the run game and attacking the middle of the field in the passing game could be key parts of Indianapolis’ game plan against them.

The Colts return all five offensive linemen from a unit that ranked 10th in yards per carry last season. A healthy Braden Smith at right tackle should provide added consistency in the run game as well.

However, running into the teeth of this Houston front may prove challenging. The Texans allowed only 3.6 yards per rush last season–the second-fewest in football. Instead, getting Jonathan Taylor on the edge and attacking the linebackers horizontally may be the more prudent move.

In Week 18 last season against Houston, Taylor rushed for 188 yards on 30 carries, averaging 6.3 yards per attempt with a touchdown.

Cornerback Steven Nelson, who led the Texans in coverage snaps last season, is still a free agent, but Houston does still have Derek Stingley Jr. This is where the addition of Adnoai Mitchell could have an immediate impact with these two teams meeting in Week 1.

Mitchell’s presence means less attention on Michael Pittman, and his ability to win downfield should help create better spacing over the middle and underneath. Again, if the Colts decide to go at the Houston linebackers, this could be a game where the tight ends and running backs play an important role in the passing game.

On the other side of the ball, the Colts have their own question marks in the secondary and will be tested by CJ Stroud and a very good group of Texans receivers that features Stefon Diggs, Nico Collins, and Tank Dell. Houston is currently the favorite to win the AFC South.

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