The Houston Texans clinched the AFC South for the second consecutive season with Sunday’s 29-17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. The win improved Houston’s record to 12-2 and moved them one win away from wrapping up the #1 seed and home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs. A win this coming Sunday vs. the Minnesota Vikings or in the season finale at Indianapolis will clinch it for the Texans.
The win over the Colts was buoyed by the Texans big stars, as Arian Foster, Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and J.J. Watt had huge games to help bring the division home. Foster rushed for a season high 165 yards and closed the game out in the fourth quarter with 75 yards on the Texans final clock eating, game sealing drive. Schaub was 23-31 for 261 yards and a score to Johnson, who also had 11 catches and 151 yards receiving. The 151 yards marked yet another milestone for Johnson, as it put him over 11,000 career receiving yards.
He became the third fastest player in NFL history to reach the mark. Johnson did it in 136 career games, trailing only the greatest receiver of all time, Jerry Rice, and also Tory Holt, who both did it in 131 games. Johnson also set another mark Sunday. It was his 16th career 10 catch, 100 yard receiving game, which tied Wes Welker for the NFL record . He has been the league’s best wide receiver over the season’s second half, as he has had three 150 yard receiving games in the last five weeks.
While Johnson continues to set records, Watt’s monster game against the Colts also has him approaching NFL history. In a performance that all but cemented the Defensive Player of the Year award for Watt, he was an absolute disruptive terror to Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis offense. A stat line of 10 solo tackles, 3 tackles for a loss, 3 sacks, and a forced fumble at the goal line easily fits the definition of disruptive terror to any offense. The 3 sacks put Watt at 19.5 on the season, leaving him 3.5 sacks shy of breaking Michael Strahan’s single season record of 22.5.
In order to match or break the record, Watt may have to do it this week against Christian Ponder and the Vikings. As noted earlier, should the Texans win they would wrap up home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. That would render the season finale against the Colts as meaningless, which mean Watt may not got many snaps if any in that game. As he showed in the meaningless finale last season vs. the Tennessee Titans, head coach Gary Kubiak will likely sit his starters in the final game if Houston is locked into its playoff seed.
In order beat the Vikings on Sunday and make that possible this season, Watt and company will have to contain the best running back in the league, Adrian Peterson. Peterson is chasing NFL history of his own as he comes to Reliant Stadium. He has accumulated 1,812 yards, leaving him 294 yards shy of the single season record of 2,105 held by Eric Dickerson. Should the Texans manage to slow him and come out victorious, their trip to Indianapolis will be their last road game this season, as they will get to play in the comfort of home in January. Of course they want to make one more trip before this season concludes, but not for a road game. Rather they want to travel to play a neutral site game in February in New Orleans. Wrapping up the top seed in the AFC will make that goal more attainable.