Week 15 Preview: Houston Texans @ Indianapolis Colts

Intro: The Colts (9-4) will look to close out the AFC South on Sunday by sweeping the season series against the Houston Texans (7-6). Here’s the Week 15 Preview of the Texans coming to Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

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INDIANAPOLIS – Back on October 9, the Colts were looking up at the Houston Texans in the AFC South.

The teams met in Houston coming off a short week with the early grasp of the AFC South being decided on Thursday Night Football.

Even though the NFL season was barely a third of the way over, the winner in Houston that evening would seize early control in earning the division title.

Thanks to a torrid start and timely defensive plays down the stretch, the Colts continued their AFC South dominance back in Week Six.

Now, two months later, the Colts (9-4) and Texans (7-6) meet again with the fate of the AFC South leaning towards staying in Indianapolis.

"We have an opportunity, which everybody knows," Chuck Pagano said earlier this week.

That opportunity is goal No. 1 from when the team gathered in April to begin their offseason program.

A division title is the easiest way into the dance, one that only accepts 12 participants come January.

With a win on Sunday, the Colts can clinch the AFC South for the ninth time since 2002 and earn at least one home playoff game next month.

For Houston, Sunday is a final chance to make things very interesting in the race for the AFC South crown over the final three weeks of the regular season.

The Texans currently sit two games behind the Colts but a win on Sunday would shift some divisional tiebreakers.

Houston's All-Pro defensive end J.J. Watt is the focal point for the Colts offense this weekend.

Watt has earned deserved MVP consideration with 14.5 sacks and an eye-popping 33 quarterback hits in 2014.

"The thing about J.J. that I appreciate is, is that he affects the game on just about every play," first-year Texans head coach Bill O'Brien says. "There's something that he does, whether it's a tackle for loss, taking on a double team the proper way, sacking the quarterback or batting the ball, recovering a fumble, strip sack. He just does something on every single play because of his talent and his relentless attitude.

"The guy plays every play like it's his last play, and he's a very difficult matchup for anybody to block. I think our defensive guys have done a good job of moving him around, which is a testament to him that he's able to learn all the different positions and do a lot of different things for us."

On the other side of the ball, Houston running back Arian Foster continues to run at an elite level.

His 102.8 rushing yards per game this year is second in the NFL.

"(Foster) runs the stretch cut play as good as anybody in football," Pagano says.

"If he gets an edge, he's got the speed to take it the distance. He's got long speed. If you set the edge and you get cutoff on the backside, he can put a foot in the ground and accelerate through a hole and hurt you that way."

Following the Texans win last week over the Jaguars, Foster didn't waste any time talking about the importance of this Sunday's meeting in Indianapolis.

Houston has never won in its 12 previous trips to the Circle City.

While it might seem like the Texans have the desperate attitude heading into Sunday, the Colts would love nothing more than to clinch a second straight divisional title in their final home game of 2014.

"We understand what's at stake," Andrew Luck says.

"It's huge to play a good Houston team at home at Lucas Oil with this much on the line for both squads. That's what December football's all about."

INTERESTING MATCHUPSTexans running back Arian Foster versus the Colts front seven:Houston runs the ball at the highest clip in the NFL with Foster carrying the load. Foster has already reached the 1,000-yard plateau in 10 games played this season. With Andre Johnson likely out for Sunday, Houston is going to lean on its workhorse back in Indianapolis.Colts offensive line versus J.J. Watt: No defensive player in the NFL garners the amount of intrigue as Watt this season. He can truly change a game with his play and the Colts saw that happen nearly in the result of a win back in Week Six. While Watt has an incredible 33 quarterback hits this season, he's also caught three touchdown passes in some goal line packages.Quick Facts

-The Colts are looking for their NFL-best 12th straight divisional win on Sunday.

-On Sunday, Reggie Wayne will play in his franchise-best 209th career game.

-In five career games against Houston, T.Y. Hilton has 31 receptions for 611 yards and six touchdowns.

-Houston leads the league with 29 takeaways and 103 points off those turnovers.

-The Texans lead the league in rushing attempts (33.2 per game).

-Since 2011, J.J. Watt leads the NFL with 51 sacks and 149 quarterback hits (54 more than any other player).NOTABLE QUOTESColts Head Coach Chuck Pagano(on his relationship with Reggie Wayne and him playing career game for 209):

-"It's just a testament to his passion and drive for the game, his love for this organization, this city, the community, his teammates, the locker room. Obviously our relationship goes all the way back to our days at the University of Miami. Regardless of that, just based on what he's done, availability means a lot in football. He's been available for a long, long time, and he's produced for a long, long time. Forget the relationship. If I'd have known him from just 2012 and we weren't together at the University of Miami or whatever, I've played against this guy for a long time, tried to defend him and stop him for a long time. Whether it's him, Robert Mathis, Adam Vinatieri, all those guys are special, special players. Matt Hasselbeck going into year 35, it's unheard of. They all get treated with the same type of respect that they should. It's earned and well-deserved because of their availability. Playing five, six, seven years is an anomaly in itself. Being able to do the things that those people have done for the years that they've done, I mean come on. Adam, 19 years right, hasn't missed, 41-years-old, it's incredible. It's his work ethic, passion and love for the game. Ton of respect for those guys."Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano(on the last time he's seen a defensive lineman have an impact like J.J. Watt):

-"I don't know if I've ever. We've seen obviously some great ones through the years, the Reggie White's, (Warren) Sapp, but this guy is a phenomenal, phenomenal football player. Best at his position right now and I'm not sure he's, it'd be hard to argue against some of the top quarterbacks right now, but this guy is impacting the game as much as anybody, especially at his position. I mean, he's catching touchdown passes now. They're lining him up in goal line and short-yardage situations. He looks like (Rob) Gronkowski out there right now running now. The catch he made from the fullback spot in the flat was phenomenal. Then what he does defensively, they move him all over the place. He's obviously very, very intelligent. He's got great instincts, a skill set that's second to none, twitched up like a corner. He's damn near unblockable, batting passes down, 14.5 sacks, tackles for loss. He does it all. He's a nightmare."

Colts Wide Receiver T.Y. Hilton(on the need to take care of the division on Sunday):

-"Every game is a big game, and this one's an even bigger game because it's the next game, but we know what this game means. For us, we have to get number 10. This is a playoff game for both teams, so we're going to get their best shot and we've got to give them our best shot."

Texans Head Coach Bill O'Brien(on looking back on the first meeting with the Colts):

-"That was not the start that we wanted to get off to. We cannot afford to get off to a start like that obviously in this game. I think we're playing better. I think we're an improved team and I think the Colts are improved. It's going to be a tough, tough challenge for us going on the road. Our guys are excited about the challenge and hopefully we'll go up there and play well."

Texans Head Coach Bill O'Brien(on getting across to his team the fact they've never won in Indianapolis):

-"Well, I think it's the truth. We've never won there. It's the truth. I said we beat Jacksonville, I feel like we're playing well, and we've never won there in Indianapolis. Let's go up there and give it our best shot. We know it's going to be tough, believe me. They're 9-4. They're one of the best teams in the league right now. They've got a great quarterback. Chuck Pagano's a great head coach. But it's the truth. I just try to tell my team the truth."Texans Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick(on viewing this game as a playoff game):

-"Yeah, it's really the last few weeks, that's how we've treated it. We were sitting at 5-6 and looking at all the teams that were ahead of us. Every game on our schedule is a must-win for where we've put ourselves. We definitely lost too many games early and this has been a week-by-week deal where every week's the playoffs for us basically. So this is just the next game, but obviously a great opponent and we're going to have to play our best."

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