The Texans were back to work on Monday, preparing for the Indianapolis Colts in Saturday's AFC Wild Card game. The Texans and Colts will face each other for a franchise-high third time this season.
“I think it’s always challenging to play a team three times,” head coach Bill O’Brien said Monday. “I’m glad it’s at home. I think that’s a big deal that we’re at home. I know our crowd’s going to be into it. We have the best crowd in the NFL, so I think that’s a big deal. But it’s always hard to play a team for a third time because you just have to understand, at the end of the day we have to do what’s right for our team and not block a lot of ghosts, if that makes sense. Just do the best you can to put together as good a game plan as you can for your team.”
The Texans are 1-1 against their division rival with the Week 4 victory marking the beginning of a nine-game win streak and the loss on Dec. 9 ending it. Both games were decided by three points. Each team started the season with a losing record (Texans at 0-3, Colts at 1-5). The Texans have gone 11-2 since then while the Colts have won nine of their last ten games of the season.
In Week 4, down 28-10 in the third quarter, Andrew Luck mounted a 21-point comeback that forced the game to overtime. Luck completed 40-of-62 passes for 464 yards and four touchdowns but fell short in the Texans 37-34 overtime win. In Week 14, the roles reversed. Deshaun Watson led the Texans back after trailing 17-7 at halftime. After a seven-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins brought them within three points, the Texans were unable to stop the Colts from driving down the field in the 24-21 loss.
The Colts, who have not made the playoffs since 2014, clinched the No. 6 seed with a 33-17 win over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday night. A lot may have changed over the course of the season, but both teams have battle their share of adversity this season to earn a playoff spot. The key to a Texans win on Saturday will come down to limiting mistakes and momentum-shifting plays, according to O’Brien.
“The mental toughness of both teams is evident,” O’Brien said. “To be 1-5 and to be where they are now, and then for us to be 0-3, there’s no doubt about it. That’s why it’s going to be a huge battle. Our guys know that. It’s going to come down to takeaways, giveaways. It’s going to come down to penalties. It’s going to come down to who can execute at the highest level. We know it’s going to be a huge challenge for us.”
After clinching the AFC South division title, the Texans will host the Colts in the AFC Wild Card game on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 3:35 p.m. CT on ESPN/ABC-13 and SportsRadio 610.