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AFC South: What’s Going on with the Texans?

The Minnesota Vikings beat the Houston Texans 23-6 on Sunday, and it wasn’t close. Houston looked listless all game, and never got into any sort of offensive rhythm. It is the exact wrong time of the season to lose offensive momentum, but it looked like that’s exactly what happened to the Texans on Sunday. Matt Schaub only completed 18 of 32 passes for 178 yards, good for an average of 5.6 yards per throw. Arian Foster only rushed for 15 yards on ten carries, averaging a putrid 1.5 yards per rush. Houston could have locked up the number one overall seed in the playoffs and home field advantage if they had won the game. Instead, they had one of the most sluggish and ugly performances of their season against a middling Vikings team that they should have easily been able to beat. They even did a good job containing the immortal Adrian Peterson, who only rushed for 86 yards on 25 carries, a 3.4 yard per rush average.

“Very disappointing because we had a chance to line up here and get something done today,” Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said. “That doesn’t mean we still can’t get it done. That’s the most important thing.”

The Texans were the definition of flat on Sunday. Much of their offense is predicated on rhythm passing coupled with a dynamic rushing attack, but all elements of their game were missing on Sunday. Arian Foster, unquestionably the team’s most dynamic weapon outside of wide receiver Andre Johnson, was pulled from the game because of an irregular heartbeat. The Texans were ten point favorites in this game, but you wouldn’t know it from how they came out. Houston finished the day 1 for 11 on third downs.

“We didn’t play well,” Kubiak said. “I think we battled defensively, but offensively we probably played as bad as we’ve played. I take full responsibility for that. It’s a huge, huge disappointment. We’ve got to get over it really quick.”

Time and again this season, the Texans have put the pressure on themselves to succeed when they could have firmly established themselves as a power in the AFC. They can still clinch home field advantage with a win at Indianapolis next week, but they can’t be feeling too confident after the egg they laid against a frisky Minnesota team. The Colts, on the other hand, seem to get up every week for their games, so if the Texans aren’t careful they could find themselves on the wrong end of another upset in Week 17.

“It’s one of most important games we ever played,” Texans tackle Duane Brown said of next week’s critical match against the Colts. “We put a lot of emphasis on this game, how important it was, but obviously we came out just flat and came out without the intensity, without the sense of urgency that was needed. I think going to Indy we just got to bounce back. It’s something that we’ve been doing all year. It shouldn’t have taken a loss like this for us to realize it, but I think this group will be able to do it.”

The Texans are currently favored by five points against the Colts next weekend, but you can bet the line will swing more toward the Colts by the time kickoff rolls around. The Texans may be 12-3, but has there been a top-ranked team that bettors have had less confidence in? I wouldn’t take the Texans at -5 on the road anywhere right now, but especially against a Colts team that continues to gut out tough wins week in and week out. Take the Colts next week, and be wary of betting the Texans in the playoffs. They’re guaranteed to be there, but perhaps not for long.

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