Houston Texans Progress Report: Where Things Stand Heading into Week 16

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistDecember 18, 2012

Week in and week out, Andre Johnson lifts his team.
Week in and week out, Andre Johnson lifts his team.Scott Halleran/Getty Images

The Houston Texans are 12-2 and have won the AFC South. They currently hold the top seed in the AFC.

In Week 16, they take on the Minnesota Vikings at Reliant Stadium.

The Texans rank 13th on offense, fifth on defense and eight overall in DVOA.


Primary Talking Point for Week 16

Adrian Peterson is coming to town.

Rarely does a visiting player upstage the home team looking to clinch, but Peterson is in the middle of one of the most spectacular seasons in NFL history.

He has already posted 1,812 rushing yards this season and is eyeballing Eric Dickerson's NFL record of 2,105.

The Texans know full well that they can spoil his bid for immortality, his team's hopes for the playoffs and even Peterson's MVP hopes by locking him down.

If they do so, they'll guarantee all their playoff games (except for the Super Bowl) would be at home.

The home finale should be a hot ticket in Houston. Fans will get an exiting matchup and the chance to celebrate the capper to what has been a fantastic season.


Injury Update

Gary Kubiak addressed the media yesterday and gave a clean injury report.

Our biggest concern right now, Dobbins got a thumb, but we think he’ll be fine.  It’s something that may have to get casted up for him to play.

Other than that, the guys that went in, you look at Newton. He came out fine, got those guys back healthy and playing. Garrett Graham came out fine. We’re trending in the right direction from that standpoint getting some guys healthy.


Playoff Outlook

The Texans are one win away from accomplishing all their regular season goals.

After putting away the AFC South banner by roughing up the Indianapolis Colts, they only need to conquer the Vikings to lock down the top seed.

The current playoff standings suit the Texans just fine.

Denver is likely to finish as the two seed. The Broncos finish with games against Cleveland and Kansas City, and would likely host the New England Patriots in the second round.

The Texans will get the lowest-seeded winner from the first weekend.

Given that it seems unlikely that the Patriots would lose at home, there's a strong possibility that team would be the winner of the four-five game. Currently Baltimore and Indianapolis are bracketed in those slots.

The Ravens would offer little resistance to the Texans, but the Colts could pose an interesting challenge. It would mark the third time in four games the two teams would play.

While the Texans are drastically superior in every way, that familiarity could work against Houston.

There's little question that Baltimore would be the most advantageous matchup.


Feel Good Stat of the Week

Andre Johnson is in the middle of another Pro Bowl season and all the numbers show it.

He's not only pushing 1,500 yards and 100 catches, but his advanced metrics are outstanding. He's second overall in DYAR and 10th in DVOA. That's simply outstanding effectiveness for a high-volume receiver.

This has already been the third-best season of Johnson's well-decorated career, which is made all the more remarkable by the utter lack of any quality complement to offset his presence.

He's facing the toughest coverage every week and abusing it.

Of course Texans fans hope he doesn't actually play in his sixth Pro Bowl.

Hopefully, he'll have other plans that week.


Troubling Stat of the Week

If you are looking for a reason to worry, the Texans have given up big yards on the ground each of the last two weeks.

Particularly troubling was the production of Vick Ballard of the Colts. Indianapolis does not run the ball well, but Ballard was able put up 105 yards on just 18 carries.

That doesn't bode well for a team getting ready to face a man having arguably the greatest running season in history.


Overall Trend: Steady

The stench of the thrashing at the hands of the Patriots isn't completely gone, but there's no question it did the Texans good to get another win under their belt to change the tenor of the conversation.

Instead of answering questions about what was wrong with the team, Kubiak spent his press conference talking about a Super Bowl run.

The wins are big. While there are no guarantees in the NFL, the Texans look to have clear sailing all the way to AFC Title game, which would be played on their home field.

If you had offered that to anyone in Houston before the season, they would have happily accepted it.

Quotes courtesy of the Houston Texans PR department.


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