As they go for their seventh win in a row, the Texans will face the best quarterback they've seen since the streak started, at Indianapolis in week four.
We all have fresh memories of Alex Smith going 4-1 against Houston as a starter in Kansas City. While there, he squared off against Houston starters Case Keenum, Brian Hoyer, Brock Osweiler and Deshaun Watson. Osweiler notched the lone win (yeah, I know it's a team game, but stay with me).
He also lost a duel with Matt Schaub as a 49er at NRG stadium in 2009. But his first start against the Texans came on New Year's Day, capping the 2005 season, in a game dubbed 'The Reggie Bush Bowl.'
The Texans were wrapping up a perplexing 2-14 season on a rainy day at Candlestick Park. They 'needed' a loss to secure the number one pick, presumably to take Reggie Bush. In that game, Alex Smith threw his first ever NFL touchdown pass. Deshaun Watson was in fourth grade. Bill O'Brien was an assistant coach at Duke. The Texans fell in overtime. And we all know they would eventually pick Mario Williams over Reggie Bush.
Smith is a great lesson in patience (what's that?) in player development. He struggled mightily as a number one overall pick for his first few seasons until Jim Harbaugh got him going in 2011. He went from a labeled 'bust,' by many, to the NFC Championship game. He's been a winner ever since.
So, now we find the Texans in the nation's capital, looking to beat a team that's been winning somewhat like they have; protecting the ball and taking it away. Washington is a robust plus-11 in turnover differential.
Watson is further away from his chest injury, Demaryius Thomas is deeper into the playbook and Keke Coutee is soon to return. The offense is getting a bit of a boost as they hit the road again. The defense has been outstanding lately and will need to continue to be good against the run as they face Adrian Peterson.
It's notable that the Texans have faced two of the top ten rushers in NFL history in the last three games, in Frank Gore and A.D. (that's 'All Day,' Peterson's real nickname, according to purists. Don't ask me to verify this, I just know).
I've done some Washington radio shows and they still remember Andre Johnson's fourth and ten catch to send the last meeting at Fed Ex Field into Overtime in 2010. Let's hope such game-day dramatic heroics are unnecessary Sunday.
Check out the best Week 9 images from Texans team photographer Zach Tarrant. Presented by Houston Methodist.