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INDIANAPOLIS – Quite a lot has changed since these two teams met earlier in 2018.
The Houston Texans (9-3) were winless when they took on the Colts (6-6) in Indianapolis back in Week Four.
An 0-3 start seems like eons ago, with the Texans becoming the first team in NFL history to win 9 straight games after dropping their first 3.
Bill O’Brien has gone from people questioning his job security in late September to now being right at the top of any serious Coach of the Year ballot.
Starting with an overtime victory over the Colts, the Texans have won 9 straight games, and now can clinch the AFC South on Sunday afternoon.
Unlike last year, the injury bug has not hit the top-end talent of the Texans.
The offense is flourishing with the 3rd ranked rushing attack, complemented by DeAndre Hopkins and his 1,115 yards in the receiving game.
Defensively, the Texans rank 3rd in points allowed per game at 19.6
They rank 5th in rushing defense and J.J. Watt is in the conversation for Comeback Player of the Year with 11.5 sacks.
In past seasons, the Colts and Texans seemingly always matched up in December with a meeting in Indianapolis all but deciding who would win the AFC South.
On Sunday, the Texans are the ones sitting in the driver’s seat having won a monumental overtime game over the Colts back in Week Four.
Houston took full advantage of Frank Reich going for a 4th-and-4 from his own 43-yard line with 27 seconds to go in overtime that afternoon.
The Texans are looking for their second season sweep over the Colts in the last three seasons.
2018 Record: 9-3, 1st place in the AFC South.
Head Coach: Bill O’Brien, head coach (5th season as an NFL head coach, 40-36 overall in regular season, 1-2 in the postseason).
2018 NFL Rankings: Offense – Overall, 12th (374.0); Rushing, 3rd (140.8); Passing, 22nd (233.3). Defense – Overall, 10th (341.5); Rushing, 5th (91.3); Passing, 18th (250.2).
2018 Leading Quarterback: Deshaun Watson (242-of-364 comp., 3,031 yards, 66.5 pct., 21 TDs, 9 INTs, 101.8 rating).
2018 Leading Running Back: Lamar Miller (176 carries, 876 yards, 3 TDs).
2018 Leading Receiver: DeAndre Hopkins (80 receptions, 1,115 yards, 8 TDs).
2018 Leading Sacker: J.J. Watt (11.5).
2018 Turnover Breakdown: Plus 8 (tied for 7th in the NFL).
2018 NFL Draft Results: Trading up for Deshaun Watson in the 2017 Draft mortgaged the 2018 resources for the Texans. Their 4th overall pick, after a 4-12 season, went to Cleveland. Houston’s first selection in April’s Draft came in the third round, as they selected Stanford safety Justin Reid at No. 68 overall. That selection started a two-round run where the Texans took Mississippi State offensive lineman Martinas Rankin (80th overall), Central Florida tight end Jordan Akins (98th overall) and Texas Tech wide receiver Keke Coutee (103rd overall).
2017 Review: Everything for the Houston Texans changed in an early November practice. A freak torn ACL suffered by Deshaun Watson sent the Texans spiraling out of control. Houston was sparked by Watson’s impressive rookie campaign and were 3-4 going into a matchup with the Colts. But once the Watson injury occurred, the Texans won just one game in the final nine weeks of the season. The 4-12 season ended Bill O’Brien’s three-year run of going 9-7.
Last time in Playoffs: 2016 season. Lost in the Divisional Round of the Playoffs, 34-16, to the New England Patriots.
Last time in Super Bowl: None.
Super Bowl Championships: None.
2017 Pro Bowl Selections: WR-DeAndre Hopkins, OLB-Jadeveon Clowney.