INDIANAPOLIS – When the schedule-maker worked its magic prior to the season, the Houston Texans appeared twice on the Indianapolis Colts’ schedule in the final three weeks of 2012.
While this is the latest the Colts and Texans have met in a season for the initial time, the implications are significant.
The Texans currently sit at 11-2 and atop the AFC South. The Colts, at 9-4, are two games behind with the chance to win the division if they capture their final three games.
Houston brings one of the most balanced offenses in the NFL to the 1 p.m. meeting on Sunday with running back Arian Foster leading the way.
Foster’s 298 attempts lead the NFL by 33 more than the nearest back, and the Pro Bowler has helped a Texans offense lead the league in time of possession (33:45). Foster has rambled for 1,148 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Wide receiver Andre Johnson is having another extremely successful season. Johnson has 82 receptions for 1,209 yards, the NFL’s sixth-best reception total.
Quarterback Matt Schaub spreads the ball around, with six different players having caught at least 25 passes.
Schaub stands behind a line that allows the second-fewest sacks per pass attempt in the league, and has produced the fourth-most points in the NFL.
Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips once again is in charge of a very successful unit. Houston’s defense ranks seventh in the NFL, and the 3-4 scheme is tied for second against the run at 90.8 yards per game.
Defensive end J.J. Watt is in the discussion for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. His 16.5 sacks rank second in the NFL.
Watt is a part of a defense that leads the NFL in third-down conversions at just 29.9 percent.
The Texans are coming off a 42-14 loss to the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football. Houston’s other loss this season came at home to the Green Bay Packers, 42-24.
Six of the Texans’ 11 wins have come by double digits.
Last season, the Colts and Texans split their meetings, and Indianapolis is looking for its first win in Houston since 2009.
2012 Record: 11-2, First in the AFC South.
Head Coach: Gary Kubiak, seventh season as Texans head coach (58-51 overall).
2012 NFL Rankings: Offense – Overall, 6th (384.5); Rushing, 8th (139.2); Passing, 10th (245.2) Defense – Overall, 7th (330.0); Rushing, 2nd (90.8); Passing, 19th (239.2).
2012 Leading Passer: Matt Schaub (285-445 comp., 3,294 yards, 64.0 pct., 21 TDs, 10 INTs, 92.7 rating).
2012 Leading Rusher: Arian Foster (298 carries, 1,148 yards, 14 TDs).
2012 Leading Receiver: Andre Johnson (82 receptions, 1,209 yards, 3 TDs).
2012 Leading Sacker: J.J. Watt (16.5).
2012 Turnover Breakdown: 14. (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 seven 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.