INDIANAPOLIS – When the Texans (2-11) meet the Colts (8-5) on Sunday, it would appear that Houston would have little, if anything, to play for in Week 15.
Gone is a head coach and hopes that included plans to play in February.
So what is the incentive this weekend?
Ask the 2011 Colts.
Back in Week 15 of the 2011 season, the 1-13 Colts took on the 10-4 Texans.
The Texans were in the thick of the AFC Playoff Picture, where as the Colts were in a battle to avoid the NFL's worst record.
In front of their home fans for one final time in 2011, the Colts defeated the AFC South Champs 19-16.
Here we are in 2013 and the roles are reversed, as it's the Colts with the AFC South crown and playing for home field advantage.
The Colts are looking to string together consistent performances over the final three weeks to pile up some momentum for a postseason run.
"The enemy is always us, period. It's no bigger than it was before for the next three weeks," defensive end Cory Redding said earlier this week.
"It's all us. We control our own destiny as far as what we do from here on out. Catching fire, doing the good things, keeping well, winning these last three, going into the postseason strong, confident, on a roll, not limping into it. That's the mindset."
Getting off to faster starts on both sides of the football remains a priority for a Colts team that is still playing for one of the top four seeds in the AFC.
In trying to secure an above .500 season, the Colts will take on a talented Texans team that has seemingly come up a play or two short way too many times lately.
The Texans are in the midst of an 11-game losing streak with the last seven of those contests coming in one-possession losses (average of 4.1 points per loss).
"They are a dangerous team," quarterback Andrew Luck said of the Texans. "They're the third-ranked defense in the league. J.J. Watt's a premier player. They have two solid corners, a very stout front seven. We have our hands full. We know how dangerous they can be."
Earlier this week, the question came up on whether or not the Colts will rest starters if a playoff seed is locked up.
Robert Mathis is one of the few Colts who played on both the 2011 team and this 2013 squad.
His answer of the question falls right in line to how Chuck Pagano addressed the topic.
"You show up to play," Mathis said. "Sign up for 16 games, these are courtesy of Coach Chuck (Pagano). You go out, you step on the field, you play ball. You let it shake out the way it does."INTERESTING MATCHUPSColts quarterback Andrew Luck versus the Texans defense:The Texans are in the midst of an 11-game losing streak but their defense still remains one of the best in the league. We saw the emergence of Da'Rick Rogers and LaVon Brazill last week and that will be needed against the league's second ranked past defense. The Colts haven't scored a first half touchdown since Oct. 20.Colts offensive line versus the Texans front seven: The Colts offense will once again play musical chairs this weekend. Hugh Thornton has returned to practice this week but Jeff Linkenbach and Samson Satele have not been out there. The task for whoever the starting five is on Sunday will be one of the league's most dominant fronts led by All-Pro J.J. Watt and his NFL leading 41 quarterback hits.Quick Facts
-The Colts are looking to move to 10-0 under Chuck Pagano in "bounce back" games.
-In three career games against the Texans, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has seven touchdowns, zero interceptions and a 94.5 quarterback rating.
-Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis (15.5 sacks) needs a half sack to set a new single season and franchise mark for the Colts.
-Texans quarterback Case Keenum has five touchdowns and one interception in three career road starts.
-Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson is looking for his fourth straight game of at least 100 receiving yards against the Colts.
-Texans defensive end J.J. Watt leads the NFL with 41 quarterback hits. He has 9.5 sacks in 2013.
NOTABLE QUOTESColts Head Coach Chuck Pagano(on trying to get T.Y. Hilton more involved):
-"First and foremost, it's huge. We know, again, what our ultimate goal is. First and foremost, our number one goal is to win the division. The road to winning the division goes through Houston. They've won it the last two years. We've got to go down there and play very, very well. Try to win this game in order to give ourselves a chance to win the division. Right now, our total focus is on Houston. We know that in order to give ourselves a chance to win the division, we've got to beat them."Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano(on what he thought of the Colts offensive line against Cincinnati):
-"They did a heck of a job. They did a heck of a job. There was a pressure here and there, but zero sacks. Again, pretty formidable front that we went against. Thirty-six sacks coming in (the game) that group had. Coming off the game before I thought those guys really stepped up and did some really good things. Moving forward it's going to hopefully pay dividends."
Colts Defensive end Cory Redding(on if the Colts have the pieces to catch fire down the stretch):
-"Oh yeah man. We got the make-up and the pieces to do this. As far as catching fire, all I know about is going back to work. Just being very detailed on the little things. That's what it all boils down to, trust and execution. No matter how you slice it, whatever you look at the tape, grading myself and everybody else is all about trust and execution. As long as we do that, we should be fine."Texans Interim Head Coach Wade Phillips(on replacing Gary Kubiak as head coach):
-"It's a very difficult situation. I've done it a couple times. One time I had to take over for my dad. And for Dan Reeves. You have personal relationships with the head coach and it's sad for everybody as far as the coach is concerned, as far as somebody having to leave, especially in the end of a season."Texans Interim Head Coach Wade Phillips(on Case Keenum and his growth):
-"He's obviously had ups and downs as a young quarterback. He's had brilliant time, certainly the first half against the Colts. But he had a tough time in the second half against them, so he's learning as he goes. But he's got talent. He's got talent to make big plays when everything's broken down, so that's what we like about him."Texans Wide Receiver Andre Johnson(on the struggles the Texans have faced this season):
-"It's been tough. At the same time, we just have to keep a positive attitude and just try to keep moving forward. It is what it is. We put ourselves in this situation. Everybody is disappointed. It's not just me. It's every player, every coach, everybody that works here in this organization is disappointed in what has happened this year. You just can't hang your head on it. You just have to keep moving forward."