INDIANAPOLIS – The changing of the guard in Houston has begun.
After an 11-game losing streak in a season with Super Bowl aspirations, the Texans fired head coach Gary Kubiak following last Thursday’s loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Interim head coach Wade Philips will bring the Texans to Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday with the franchise looking for their first win in Indianapolis (0-11 all-time).
While the Texans currently hold the worst record in the NFL, they’ve lost seven straight games all by one possession (an average of 4.1 points per game).
Those losses have come against the likes of Kansas City, Indianapolis, Arizona and New England and in each one of those games, the Texans held a halftime or second half lead.
It’s a couple of plays here and there, usually turnovers (Texans 31st in turnover margin), that have continued the losing streak for Houston.
On Monday, Philips indicated that Case Keenum would remain the starting quarterback.
In the Colts/Texans meeting on Nov. 3, Keenum threw for three first half touchdowns in his first ever start in his hometown of Houston.
Ben Tate is the Texans bell cow in the backfield (699 rushing yards) with Arian Foster sidelined due to injury.
Neutralizing Andre Johnson will be high on the Colts priority list as the Pro Bowl receiver recorded seven catches for 190 yards and three touchdowns in the first half of the team’s initial meeting.
Since the Colts 27-24 comeback victory over the Texans, Houston has scored at least 20 points in five of their past six games.
Defensively, the Texans have maintained their rank among the league’s top units, particularly in defending the pass (2nd in the league at 183.6 yards per game).
Houston defensive end J.J. Watt is once again having an All-Pro year with 9.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss.
The Colts are looking to move to 5-0 against the AFC South in 2013.
2013 Record: 2-11, fourth in the AFC South.
Head Coach: Wade Phillips (interim), 1st season as Texans head coach and 12th season as NFL head coach (82-59 overall regular season, 1-5 playoffs).
2013 NFL Rankings: Offense – Overall, 11th (368.4); Rushing, 16th (114.2); Passing, 11th (254.2) Defense – Overall, 3rd (302.2); Rushing, 21st (118.5); Passing, 2nd (183.6).
2013 Leading Passer: Case Keenum (starter on Sunday) (119-of-219 comp., 1,592 yards, 54.3 pct., 9 TDs, 4 INTs).
2013 Leading Rusher: Ben Tate (165 carries, 699 yards, 4 TDs).
2013 Leading Receiver: Andre Johnson (95 receptions, 1,277 yards, 5 TDs).
2013 Leading Sacker: J.J. Watt (9.5).
2013 Turnover Breakdown: Minus 14 (31st in the NFL).
2013 NFL Draft Results: Looking for a receiver to complement Andre Johnson, the Texans chose DeAndre Hopkins out of Clemson late in the first round. Hopkins has caught 44 passes for 707 yards in his rookie campaign. Houston chose defenders with three of its next four choices, including the SEC’s D.J. Swearinger at safety and defensive end Sam Montgomery from LSU. The Texans released Montgomery two weeks ago for a violation of team rules the night before their game against the Chiefs.
2012 Review: The Texans had a tremendous start to the 2012 campaign, taking an 11-1 record into Week 14. However, Houston lost three of its final four regular season games and missed out on securing a bye. For the second straight year, Houston beat Cincinnati in the opening week of the playoffs but lost 41-28 to the Patriots in the divisional round of the playoffs. Defensive end J.J. Watt was the 2012 NFL Defensive Player of the Year thanks to a 20.5 sack campaign.
Last time in Playoffs: 2012 season. Lost to the New England Patriots, 41-28, in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Last time in Super Bowl: Never been.
Super Bowl Championships: None.
2013 Pro Bowl Selections: OT-Duane Brown, TE-Owen Daniels, RB-Arian Foster, WR-Andre Johnson, CB-Johnathan Joseph, C-Chris Meyers, QB-Matt Schaub, OG-Wade Smith and DE-J.J. Watt.