The final regular season game today will be a tussle between the AFC South’s finest and isn’t short on drama or significance. A 12-3 Texans team is looking to shake their late season woes and end the season on a good note unlike their 0-4 finish to their 2011 campaign. There is also still hope that Houston can clinch home field games at Reliant so long as a long list of “ifs” fall into place. The Texans have gone from a no-doubter team to be labeled as “elite” to a team that is just as primed to lay an egg as defeat a good team. Some think they’ve been exposed by good teams, some think they needed a spark to get them focused.
Regardless of the interpretations of the public, one thing is for certain, the Texans need a statement win. They need to return to form and keep their thumb on the young cardiac kids in Colt Blue, to keep their division rivals in their place and gain some much needed confidence. There is definitely an air of expectation, after surprising everyone outside of Texas with their 2011 post season run with a banged up team, the Texans aren’t surprising anyone this year. They’ve gone from a team with nothing to lose to a team that seems to have a lurking fear of failure. A lack of a stellar reputation can be a blessing.
A team with nothing to lose is a breakout, heart-pounding, sideshow of a young team in the Indianapolis Colts. Clinching a playoff spot earlier this season, they cannot budge from their 5 seed in the AFC playoff picture. However, I doubt we will see a starter-resting bench show. Today marks the return of Chuck Pagano, who has heroically fought his Leukemia with the entire Colt team and fans’ support.
Players, fans and even cheerleaders shaved their heads to raise awareness and funds for Leukemia earlier this season, and a young Colt team has played with passion all season. The buzz surrounding this season’s turnaround from last season has reanimated a rabid fan base from the dead, who are likely to be making a ton of noise at Lucas Oil.
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These two met as recently as two weeks ago when the Texans clinched the AFC South with a 29-17 win at home at Reliant. I suspect that we will see a much closer game today, and if it weren’t for the potential of home field advantage for the Texans then I would give the expected win to Indy. Last time they played the Texans did themselves a service by keeping the ball out of Luck’s hands and disrupting a streaky rhythm that the Colts offense has displayed this year. Foster scampered all over the field for 165 yards on the ground while ‘Dre Johnson snatched 11 air balls for 151 and a score.
The Colts had the will, but not the way. The Texans decided to show up, and with plenty reason to do the same at Indianapolis I suspect we’ll see a very similar but slightly close game in a 31-24 Texans win to improve to 13-3 for their 2012 season.