There’s been plenty of talk this week about not consuming a certain dairy product.
Bill O’Brien has been asked about the expression “don’t take the cheese” and he’s had to explain it a couple of times. The mousetrap metaphor implies that your own success can lull you into a state of carelessness that could cost you dearly.
The Texans have thrived this season in large part because they keep things in the moment. The day after the win over the Browns, O’Brien was asked about some things down the road and he said “we’re just trying to have a good Monday.”
His approach is not novel but it is hard to stick to. We don’t know what goes on in the minds of players, but fans and media can’t help but think about the future beyond the next game. This is especially true in a season like this in which January appears to beckon.
But the Texans know they won’t get to January unless they continue to dwell on the minute details, an ethic which kept them together at 0-3 and has helped them throughout the streak.
The latest threat to the winning trend is the all-time Texans nemesis, Indianapolis.
For the Colts, this is it. If they lose, they know it’ll take a miracle to be playing in January. So there’s desperation as a motivator. Although you’d think it was firmly in place last week before they dropped a perplexing 6-0 decision at Jacksonville.
Andrew Luck has seemingly thrown for a gazillion yards this season. This is the most often the Colts have passed since he became the QB in 2012. During their five-game winning streak, Indy was also able to run the ball well. And the defense has come around too.
The last meeting was the one that started the winning streak for Houston. The Texans were up 28-10 in the third quarter but the Colts roared back. The result was ultimately settled at the overtime buzzer.
Houston is different now. The running game is among the best in the league. They are plus eight in turnover differential. And at home, the Texans have been masterful in their last three games, beating teams by an average of 17 points per outing.
This is the latest ‘toughest game in the streak.’ Interestingly enough, the Texans have beaten Luck the last three times they have faced him. But that’s not a great indicator of how things might go on Sunday. The Texans will have to keep the third best rushing attack in the NFL rolling. Deshaun Watson will have to keep playing, efficient, selectively-explosive football. And the third best scoring defense in the NFL will likely have to execute better overall than they did in week four.
No one is taking the cheese on this one. The Texans are well aware of the history of the matchup. The Colts have a 25-8 all-time record against Houston. O’Brien has been much better against Indy than his predecessors, going 4-5 heading into Sunday.
It’s a huge division matchup. The Texans can’t clinch with a win. But if they can get one it will make things extremely tough for anyone to derail their quest for a fifth AFC South title.
Check out the best Week 13 images from Texans team photographer Zach Tarrant. Presented by Houston Methodist.