Houston Texans: Loss to Colts Sets Up Wild Card Rematch with the Bengals

Eric McKelvieSenior Writer IDecember 31, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 30: Antoine Bethea #41 of the Indianapolis Colts tackles Arian Foster #23 of the Houston Texans during the game at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 30, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Houston Texans will start their playoff run a little sooner than expected, as the Cincinnati Bengals will come to town on Saturday.

A 28-16 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 17 not only cost the Texans the No. 1 seed in the AFC, but a bye as well.

The Texans started 11-1 but lost three of their last four games to finish as the third seed with a record of 12-4. The Denver Broncos (13-3) finished as the No. 1 seed while the New England Patriots (12-4) clinched the second seed because of their Week 14 win over the Texans.

The Texans will host the sixth-seeded Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) in the Wild Card Round for the second consecutive year. Last year, Houston went 10-6 and won its first division title while the Bengals took the sixth seed with a 9-7 record.

Like this season, the Texans were looking to secure a bye in 2011. They were 10-3 though Week 14 along with the New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers. However, the Texans lost three straight to the Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans.

They ended their losing skid in the playoffs by beating the Bengals, 31-10, with rookie quarterback T.J. Yates going 11-of-20 for 159 yards and a touchdown. Arian Foster was the difference, though, rushing for 153 yards and two touchdowns. The Texans fell to the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round, 20-13.

This season, the Texans' slide started in Week 14, when they were embarrassed on national television for the second time. The Patriots dominated the Texans, winning 42-14 in a game that many thought could be a preview of the AFC Championship. They bounced back to beat the Colts, 29-17, the following week to clinch the AFC South title. However, the Texans managed just 22 total points in their final two games, losing to the Vikings and Colts.

The Texans have been average at best in the last quarter of the season, and the coaches, quarterback and secondary are among those who need to step up and change that.

Regardless of their recent slide, the Texans should still win in the playoffs, especially considering that most of the team is healthy, and they have their starting quarterback this time around. 

After getting its first playoff win last year, expectations in Houston were high heading into this season. It's time for the Texans to live up to those expectations and make a deep run in the playoffs.