This is the first meeting of the season between the AFC South teams, with the second set for Week 17 in Indianapolis.
The Texans (11-2) currently sit atop the AFC, but the Patriots (10-3) and Denver Broncos (10-3) are gunning for the No. 1 seed. With three games remaining, the Texans may need to win out to secure home-field throughout the playoffs.
On top of that, the Texans haven’t even clinched the AFC South title yet. The Colts (9-4) will win the division if they run the table in their final three games. The Texans just need a win Sunday to take the AFC South crown.
Matt Schaub has thrown for 3,294 yards, 21 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Arian Foster, who has had success against the Colts in the past, has rushed for 1,148 yards and a league-best 14 touchdowns.
The Colts defense, which gives up 25.3 points and 362.5 yards per game, will likely struggle to slow down Houston’s offense.
Where will the Texans finish in the AFC?
With that said, the Patriots did a great job of exposing the Texans defense on Monday Night Football. Andrew Luck certainly isn’t Tom Brady, yet, but the rookie quarterback should bounce back from a couple mediocre performances in his last two games.
The key will be whether the Colts’ banged-up offensive line can hold up against J.J. Watt and company—not just to protect Luck, but to help rookie Vick Ballard run the ball.
The Colts are one of the best stories in the NFL this year. If they win Sunday to clinch a playoff spot, it would only add to an already impressive season. However, expect the Texans to come out with a strong performance at home and lock up the division against the Colts, who are just 3-3 on the road.
Battle for the No. 1 Seed
The Texans and Patriots have both defeated the Broncos this season and appear poised to take the top two seeds in the AFC.
With that said, the Patriots have the advantage of holding the tiebreaker and having a much easier schedule than the Texans. Houston therefore faces a difficult task as it will likely need to win all three games to stay No. 1.
Next week the Texans host the Minnesota Vikings, who at 7-6 are still fighting for their playoff lives. And, of course, the Texans will travel to Indianapolis for a rematch with the Colts in the final game of the season.
The Patriots host the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday Night Football in what will be their last tough test of the season. New England shouldn’t have trouble beating the Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins who are a combined 7-19.
The Patriots know what it takes to win in the regular season and playoffs and are expected to be in this position every year. The Texans, on the other hand, are coming off their first playoff appearance in franchise history.
Now, despite being blown out by the Patriots, they have an opportunity to take control of the AFC and secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
It’s up to them to take advantage of the opportunity, win three games and put themselves in position to host the Patriots in the AFC Championship game.