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One Preview: Luck, Colts look to continue success vs. Texans

One reliable preview. One key factor to decide the game. It's that simple.

Air & Ground matchup of Week 15

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS) -- Two of the NFL's top candidates for the league's MVP award square off at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck -- the NFL leader in passing yardage (4,305) and co-leader in touchdown passes (36) -- will spend his afternoon being ever conscious of where Texans defensive dynamoJ.J. Watt is lining up.

The Colts boast the NFL's top offense (432.4 yards per game) and passing offense (321.8 yards per game), and Luck is the maestro of the offensive exposition. Luck is looking to join former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning in leading the NFL in passing yards within their first three seasons in the league (Manning did so with 4,413 yards in 2000). Luck already has the most passing yards through the first three seasons of an NFL career (12,501 yards, over Manning -- again -- with 12,287 from 1998-2000).

Trying to keep Luck from torching the Texans' secondary will be Watt, who has sacked Luck six times. That's the highest total by any player against Luck. In Week 6, the Texans suffered a 33-28 setback against the Colts at NRG Stadium. However, Watt -- as he is wont to do -- was a one-man wrecking crew. Watt registered seven tackles, two sacks, three tackles for loss, three passes defense and scored on a 45-yard fumble return.

Not to be overshadowed by the epic Luck-Watt showdown is Texans running back Arian Foster, who looks to continue his success against his blue-horseshoe-helmeted foes. In seven career games against the Colts, Foster has 134 carries for 861 yards and eight touchdowns. His 143.5 yards-per-carry average against the Colts is the most by a player against an opponent since 1960 (minimum of five games). The next four names on that list are familiar to all fans: Pro Football Hall of Famers Jim Brown (135.9 YPG vs. the Philadelphia Eagles), Walter Payton (132.0 YPG against the New Orleans Saints) and Eric Dickerson (128.0 YPG vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers).

Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has been outstanding in games against AFC South opponents. He has thrown eight touchdowns with no interceptions in divisional games; one of just six starters without an interception thrown in games inside the division this season.

One mind-blowing stat to ponder

The Colts have never lost at home against the Texans (12-0), outscoring Houston 365-190 in those 12 home games. Because it's the holiday season and we're in the spirit of giving, here's a bonus stat to ponder: The Colts have won 21 of 25 against the Texans, and that .840 winning percentage is the highest by any team against a single divisional opponent since 1970.

Great Moments in Air & Ground History

Texans 34, Colts 24 (Week 1 of 2010 season) -- Entering the 2010 season opener, the Texans -- born via expansion in 2002 -- had defeated the Colts just once in 16 tries (a 27-24 win over the eventual Super Bowl champions in 2006). In order to break that run of futility, the Texans got a Herculean effort from running back Arian Foster, who accounted for 231 yards and three touchdowns rushing. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning threw for 433 yards and three touchdowns, but two of those touchdowns came in the fourth quarter as a Colts' comeback attempt fell short. The Texans started the season fast, winning four of their first six games, but faded late to finish 6-10. The Colts, meanwhile, had a routine 10-6 season that ended with the AFC South crown.

Follow Jim Reineking on Twitter @jimreineking.

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