INDIANAPOLIS – In an interesting twist, it is Houston, not Indianapolis, who is left playing for positioning in the playoffs come Week 17 of the regular season.
The Colts are locked into the fifth seed in the AFC and will travel to the fourth seed for the Wild Card round in early January.
Houston needs a win to secure the top seed in the AFC and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Two weeks ago, these teams met in Houston and while the division title stayed with the Texans, it now is all about the playoffs.
The Texans are coming off a 23-6 home defeat to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, a game in which Houston was held out of the end zone for the first time all season.
It has been a bag of mixed results the past three weeks for the Texans.
A 29-17 home victory over the Colts was sandwiched between a 42-14 loss to the Patriots and Sunday’s defeat to the Vikings.
Since the start of the season, the Texans have found themselves atop the AFC, but they now will need to record their first-ever win in Indianapolis in order to finish there.
Back on December 16, Houston jumped out to a 20-3 first-half lead thanks to a Colts fumble on the goal-line and the Texans blocking a punt and returning it for a touchdown.
Indianapolis cut the lead to 23-17 late in the third quarter, but a pair of Shayne Graham field goals iced the game for the Texans.
Texans defensive end J.J. Watt was a terror with 10 tackles, three sacks and the forced fumble at the Houston goal-line. Houston produced five sacks on the day.
Houston running back Arian Foster erupted in the second half and finished the game with 27 carries for 165 rushing yards. Foster had almost 80 yards in the final quarter.
The health of Foster will be a question this week as he left Sunday’s game against the Vikings due to an illness.
2012 Record: 12-3, First in the AFC South.
Head Coach: Gary Kubiak, seventh season as Texans head coach (59-52 overall).
2012 NFL Rankings: Offense – Overall, 8th (373.4); Rushing, 7th (134.7); Passing, 15th (238.7) Defense – Overall, 9th (327.1); Rushing, 7th (98.6); Passing, 16th (228.5).
2012 Leading Passer: Matt Schaub (326-508 comp., 3,733 yards, 64.2 pct., 22 TDs, 10 INTs, 92.4 rating).
2012 Leading Rusher: Arian Foster (335 carries, 1,328 yards, 14 TDs).
2012 Leading Receiver: Andre Johnson (100 receptions, 1,457 yards, 4 TDs).
2012 Leading Sacker: J.J. Watt (20.5).
2012 Turnover Breakdown: 14. (tied for 3rd).
2012 NFL Draft Results: The Texans had just one pick in the first two rounds of April’s draft with outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus being chosen in the first round. Mercilus is contributing as a very talented outside linebacker and has played in each game this season. He has six sacks. Houston went with a pair of wide receivers and offensive linemen with its next four picks. Fourth-rounder Keshawn Martin has 10 receptions and a touchdown. Offensive guard Ben Jones has started the past nine games. Nebraska defensive end Jared Crick was chosen in the fourth round and has provided some depth along the defensive front.
2011 Review: The Texans tasted the playoffs for the first time with a 10-6 record and by capturing the AFC South crown. Houston overcame late-season injuries to quarterback Matt Schaub and wide receiver Andre Johnson in knocking off Cincinnati, 31-10, in the AFC Wild Card round. Houston then faced a Baltimore team that was undefeated at home. The Texans bounced back from a 17-3 first-quarter deficit, but two interceptions in the final eight minutes of the game by quarterback T.J. Yates spelled the end. Baltimore won, 20-13.
Last time in Playoffs: 2012. Lost in the AFC Divisional Round to the Baltimore Ravens, 20-13.
Last time in Super Bowl: Never.
Super Bowl Championships: None.
2011 Pro Bowl Selections: Arian Foster RB, Johnathan Joseph CB, Chris Meyers C, Antonio Smith DE.