The Colts can expect to see a lot of Steven Jackson in Week 7.
Will Indianapolis contain Steven Jackson? St. Louis really only has one weapon, Jackson, and everyone knows it. The problem is that Jackson is superb and just keeps coming down after down. He is capable of breaking a long one at any time and is a big-time factor in the passing game. So, even if the Colts are playing with a lead, which seems likely, Jackson will not go away. In fact, the Rams might run a lot of perimeter screens to their bell-cow back in an effort to slow down Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. That being said, running backs have not produced much at all against the Colts over their last four games.
Could there be complacency on the Colts' part after the bye? Considering the level of competition Indianapolis faces this week, this is a legitimate question. But considering the level of excellence within the Colts organization, I contend that a letdown is very unlikely -- especially with Peyton Manning at the controls. This could be the week to get the running game rolling though and I wouldn't be surprised to see a Donald Brown coming out party, which just might signify the changing of the guard at the Colts' running back position. Joseph Addai should still have a significant role going forward, but I contend that Brown is the better player and the lead job should be his. This might just be the week that he makes that happen.
Who are the playmakers to fear on the 49ers? Vernon Davis has been playing great and looks to have made a substantial step up in his career under Mike Singletary. He is extremely fast for a tight end and is capable of getting behind the defense for a big play. However, Houston has been very strong in defending opposing tight ends. The other receiver who needs mentioning is, of course, Michael Crabtree who is making his NFL debut in Houston. I have a hard time believing that Crabtree is in top-notch football shape. After running numerous routes and blocking in the run game, which is required in San Francisco, I would expect fatigue to set in at some point. He probably will only run a handful of different routes. Still, he is going to play and even without NFL seasoning, he is very capable of beating any member of Houston's secondary and making a big play.
Can Houston equal the 49ers' level of physicality? That is what Singletary preaches -- to be the most physical football team on the field on both sides of the football. While I do concede that San Francisco is more physical than Houston overall, the Texans did show me a lot last week in Cincinnati with their run-stopping prowess. The Texans could stand to do a much better job of moving defensive bodies out of the trenches however and if they are unable to get a consistent push this week, Patrick Willis will have a field day against Steve Slaton and Houston's struggling rushing attack.
How do the Texans' playmakers stack up with San Francisco's cover men in the passing game? Matt Schaub is playing at a very high level right now and his numbers over the past four games are out of this world. Obviously Andre Johnson has an awful lot to do with that, but so does Owen Daniels, who has become a consistent matchup nightmare and Slaton, who is very adept in the screen game. The good news for Houston is that opposing wide receivers have been doing a lot of damage to the San Francisco secondary, but on the other hand, the 49ers have been very stout against tight ends. Still, I like Houston's chances if Daniels is one-on-one with any of the 49ers' linebackers or safeties. Maybe this is the week that Kevin Walter breaks out of his slump and Jacoby Jones is quite dangerous. Nate Clements has been playing quite well for the most part, but Roddy White had a huge day in Week 5 and the San Francisco secondary must tackle better as a whole.