If the Texans win one more game, they get a first-round bye and home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs. A victory Sunday would ensure that they get the weekend after the regular-season finale off and that a Divisional Round playoff game, at the very least, would take place at Reliant Stadium.
From top to bottom, everyone in the franchise is aware of what's at stake on Sunday against hte Minnesota Vikings. Quarterback Matt Schaub was a playoff spectator in 2011, and he believes his first crack at postseason action will be for the better if it's at home.
"It'd be huge. I think once you get to this point, that's the goal of any team," Schaub said. "You want to go ahead and take care of that because then you know you don't have to travel until the last game (the Super Bowl). To have it in the confines of Reliant Stadium for all the playoff games, that's just an advantage for us."
After their first taste of the playoffs last January, the Texans made it a point in the aftermath of their Divisional loss at Baltimore to strive for homefield advantage this January. With an AFC-best 12-2 record, they're two games clear of the Broncos (11-3) in seeding because of a Week 3 victory at Denver. Even if Houston can't get past Minnesota in Week 16, a victory at Indianapolis would still accomplish the goal. But don't tell Andre Johnson that.
"It's better to have it done Sunday than try to do it the following week," Johnson said. "We're going to try to get it done Sunday."
The Texans are 12-4 at Reliant Stadium in the regular season and postseason since the start of 2011. The thunderous crowd noise is routinely cited as a help to the Texans' defense.
"Playing in front of our home crowd is a big deal," defensive end J.J. Watt said on Wednesday. "I love these fans. They give us such an advantage."
Left tackle Duane Brown agreed and is excited the Texans have control of their playoff future.
"You can't ask for anything more than that," Brown said. "It's what we've been playing for all year, and to put ourselves in this position, we're extremely proud of it and we know what's at stake."
While the Reliant Stadium experience is the one he would prefer, Texans coach Gary Kubiak believes more in what the team is doing rather than where it's playing.
"It's how you play that's the most important thing, and I think our team knows that now," Kubiak said. "I think I beat that at them enough. They've learned through the course of growing up that regardless of what's going on, if they play good football, they're going to have a chance to win."