No Rest for the Houston Texans Just Yet

The Texans got an early Christmas present from the 49ers, but it could turn to coal if they don’t take care of the Vikings this Sunday.

After the Houston Texas lost in epic fashion last week against the New England Patriots there was a lot of concern and doubt as to what the team was actually capable of accomplishing. Stories popped up all over the internet about how Matt Schaub wasn't a ‘prime time’ type quarterback. Some tried to claim they saw this coming with the way the team has struggled against lesser opponents in recent weeks.

On Sunday against a surprisingly good Indianapolis Colts team they started to put some of those doubts back where they belong.

“A lot of people were wondering how we were going to respond,'' wide receiver Andre Johnson said. ''I think a lot of people doubted us after what happened last week. We (felt) like we had to show people what we were really about.''

Houston didn't exactly blow the Colts out of the stadium like the Patriots did to them, but they were completely in control of the game from beginning to end. With the 29-17 win they were able to clinch the AFC South division crown for the second consecutive season.

However, as nice as that is what the loss to the Patriots showed was how important home field advantage is. So while they are locked into the playoffs and are in line to be the No. 1 seed with home field advantage through to the Super Bowl, the team hasn't locked that up just yet.

Thanks to the San Francisco 49ers beating the New England Patriots on Sunday night the Texans are in complete control of their destiny. Simply put, win next week and they lock up the No. 1 pick and home field advantage.

The win would guarantee them at least a 13-3 record (should they lose to the Colts in the regular season finale). The best the Patriots can now do is 12-4; should they finish with equal records the Patriots would get the No. 1 seed due to their head to head win.

Should they finish with an identical record to the Denver Broncos (who are not 11-3) the Texans would be the No. 1 seed due to their win over Denver in Week Three (31-25).

Standing in their way is a team clinging onto a slim hope of making the playoffs, but one that is alive and well thanks to the MVP-like season that their running back is having— Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

With another 200+ yard day against the St. Louis Rams Peterson brings his season total to 1,812 yards; 294 away from breaking Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing record.

“He’s the best running back in the league other than Arian,” defensive end J.J. Watt said. “The guy’s playing lights-out. He’s playing great football. I’m excited about the challenge. It’s going to be a great challenge for us.”

The struggles with the passing game (No. 15) in recent weeks have the defense ranked No. 7 overall, but the team has remained stout against the run (No. 5) holding opposing offenses to just 93.2 yards a game. They've only allowed three rushing touchdowns the entire season and the longest run they've given up has been 28 yards, both league bests.

However, the team knows that it will have to better against the run then they have the last two weeks. Rookie Vick Ballard had the first 100+ yard day of his career with 105 yards on 18 carries. New England gained 133 yards on 33 carries.

It would not be surprising to see defensive coordinator Wade Phillips stack the box in order to stop Adrian Peterson in hopes of forcing the Vikings to pass in order to beat them. The Vikings are the worst passing team in the league with just 168.1 yards a game.

As they prepare for this week’s challenge the words of nose tackle Shaun Cody are likely what the team will look to do:

“We have to bring out our big-boy pants.”
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