ESPN.com AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky spoke with Nick Scurfield of HoustonTexans.com to preview Sunday's game between the Texans (5-5) and Indianapolis Colts (10-0) and to discuss the AFC South landscape.
Kuharsky joined ESPN.com in 2008 after 12 years covering the Oilers/Titans and the NFL for The Tennessean.
Nick Scurfield:You were at the Texans-Titans Monday Night Football game. It was a raucous atmosphere at Reliant Stadium and a very physical game, but the Texans weren't able to come out on top. Coming away from the game, what's your take on this Texans team and its postseason aspirations?
Paul Kuharsky:I wonder about their emotional strength remaining. I mean, those two games, the losses to the Colts and the Titans in games that they felt like they could have and should have won or at least gotten into overtime, I think it has to be awfully draining for them. So I have a feeling they either bounce back huge and pull the upset and hand the Colts their first defeat or kind of show that they're spent and don't have a very good effort and maybe get beaten badly. I'd be surprised by anything in between, I think, but that's just me.
Nick Scurfield: Peyton Manning is putting up characteristically huge numbers this season. From the times you've seen him play this year and from your conversations with people around the team in Indy, do you get the sense that he's playing as well as he ever has played?
Paul Kuharsky:Well, he's dropped off the last four weeks. Surely, he's carrying them. They are more reliant on Peyton Manning than any team is on any player in the league. He's made receivers who probably wouldn't be great on other rosters like Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie look very good. They don't have much of a running game, and it's not much of a factor in their being 10-0. I think he's right there in the top three of the MVP conversation, but I do think in the last month when they've won by a collective 10 points, I think, he's not played as well and they've not played as well. They hope to go the other way against Houston, and Houston hopes maybe it goes the other way and finally the Colts don't get all the breaks at the end and find a way to lose.
For more, including Kuharsky's thoughts on the Colts' defense, Texans quarterback Matt Schaub and the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans, click here to listen to the full interview in a HoustonTexans.com podcast.*