Here's what we learned in the opening game of Wild Card Weekend:
- The Colts entered the postseason as one of the hottest teams in the league, going 9-1 to close out the season after starting the year 1-5. The momentum clearly carried over to the opening round of the playoffs, as the Colts dominated the first quarter against their divisional foe, totaling 155 net yards of offense to the Texans' 39. The yardage also allowed Indianapolis to set the tone, which the Colts accomplished by punching the Texans in the mouth during a nine-play, 70-yard opening drive. Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton clowned the Texans by converting two third-down attempts into first downs, and quarterback Andrew Luck capped off the first possession by finding tight end Eric Ebron for a 6-yard scoring pass. The Colts then took their next possession and utilized a methodical nine-play, 75-yard scoring drive, which running back Marlon Mack finished with a 2-yard run, to go up 14-0. By the time the dust had settled in the first period, the Colts were averaging 8.1 yards per offensive play and had taken command of the game.
- The voting for the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year ended after Week 17 of the regular season, but Luck proved New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees' prediction correct on why the Colts' signal-caller deserves the recognition. Luck turned in an efficient postseason performance, completing 19 of 32 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. He threw it deep, connecting with Hilton on a 38-yard gain in the first quarter, and showed tremendous touch on scoring passes to Ebron and wide receiver Dontrelle Inman, who recorded an 18-yard touchdown catch on a pretty pass down the left sideline from Luck. The quarterback's supporting cast also stepped up. Mack gashed the Texans with 148 yards rushing and a touchdown on 24 carries; Hilton, who entered the game averaging 133.3 career yards at NRG Stadium, totaled 85 yards receiving on five catches; the offensive line protected Luck, who was not sacked on the game, and opened running lanes for Mack; and Ebron's red-zone presence from the regular season continued to shine.
- Offenses tend to rule the NFL, but a lot of credit needs to be lavished on the Colts' defense for what it did Saturday. The Texans entered the game ranked a respectable 15th in the league in total offense (362.6 points per game) and 11th in scoring (25.1), but Indianapolis gave quarterback Deshaun Watson fits throughout the game, sacking him three times and holding him to 235 yards passing. Cornerback Pierre Desir also deserves big kudos for holding All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins in check. Hopkins fought through a shoulder injury that sent him to the locker room in the final minute of the first half. He would return but didn't have much success with Desir shadowing his every move plus the limitations from his hurt shoulder.
- Speaking of Watson and Hopkins, the duo picked a bad time to come up short given the postseason implications. Hopkins totaled five catches for 37 yards on 10 targets, and Watson struggled with Hopkins basically taken away as a threat. Watson completed 29 of 49 pass attempts, averaging just 4.8 yards per completion, as he went into check-down mode. Watson did some damage with his legs, totaling 76 yards rushing on eight carries, but the Texans' backfield didn't provide much support. Of the team's 105 yards on the ground, Watson totaled the bulk of it. The Texans enjoyed a good season, but perhaps go into the offseason knowing they need more viable weapons in the passing game outside of Hopkins.
- Saturday's result sets up another postseason showdown between the Colts and the Chiefs in the Divisional Round. The Chiefs might have clinched the top seed, but their playoff history against the Colts is not good. The Colts and Chiefs have met four times in the postseason (1995, 2003, 206, 2013), with the Colts winning them all, which includes two games at Arrowhead Stadium. The last time the two teams squared off resulted in a stunning Colts' 45-44 win in Indianapolis on Jan. 4, 2014. In that game, the Chiefs jumped out to a 38-10 lead before Luck engineered the second-largest comeback in NFL playoff history.