Texans-Colts Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 26, 2012
Chuck Pagano has been a source of inspiration for the Indianapolis Colts throughout their improbable season. Now he'll finally get to do it from the sidelines. After waging a successful three-month fight with leukemia, Pagano has resumed his coaching duties. He'll be back on the field for the first time since Week 3 on Sunday when the Colts close the regular season against the visiting Houston Texans, who will be playing for the top seed in the AFC playoffs. "I feel great, my weight is back, my energy is back and again, it's just a blessing to be back here," Pagano said. He'll be taking over after interim coach Bruce Arians led Indianapolis, a league-worst 2-14 last season, to victories in eight of its past 10 games. "He's always been our head coach," Arians said of Pagano. While the Colts (10-5) can't move out of the No. 5 seed in the AFC regardless of what happens this week, Pagano will try to help the team regain some momentum heading into the playoffs after a pair of poor performances. A week after never leading in a 29-17 loss at Houston, Indianapolis needed yet another late touchdown drive engineered by Andrew Luck to beat lowly Kansas City 20-13 last Sunday. The Texans (12-3) also haven't been at their best lately, sandwiching the win over the Colts with losses to New England and Minnesota by a combined 45 points. However, they still have a chance to clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with a win Sunday, or if both Denver and the Patriots lose. "We know what it takes," said defensive end J.J. Watt, two sacks shy of Michael Strahan's single-season record of 22 1/2. "We're going to get focused, and then we're going to come out there and earn ourselves home-field advantage." The health of Arian Foster could be a key. He had season lows of 10 carries and 15 yards in a 23-6 loss to the Vikings last Sunday before leaving in the third quarter with an irregular heartbeat. Coach Gary Kubiak said he expects the AFC's second-leading rusher (1,328 yards) to play Sunday. "I appreciate all the concern and support," Foster tweeted. "I am doing well. Saw a cardiologist today and everything is back to normal." Foster rushed for 165 yards on 27 carries versus the Colts earlier this month. He's run for more than 100 yards in each of his four career games against them, averaging 164.0 yards with five touchdowns. Houston's dynamic running game has to be a concern for the Colts after allowing the Chiefs to rush for 352 yards - their most since 1966 - on 8.0 yards per carry. Indianapolis also has to deal with Andre Johnson, who had 11 catches for 151 yards and a touchdown in the first meeting and leads the AFC in receiving yards (1,457). The Texans, however, likely need to fix their problems on third downs after going 1 of 11 against the Vikings and 14 of 55 (25.5 percent) in December. "There's many, many issues going on," Kubiak said. "But there is one consistent issue and the consistent issue is third-and-long." Indianapolis has been tough in that category, ranking 10th in defensive third-down percentage (33.3) in December after holding the Chiefs to 2 of 10. Luck broke Cam Newton's single-season mark for passing yards (4,051) by a first-year quarterback last Sunday, but he also completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes for the fourth straight contest. He was 13 of 27 for 186 yards and two touchdowns while getting sacked a season-high five times in his first look at the Texans, who lead the NFL in defensive completion percentage (53.2) and rank fifth with 43 sacks. "As an offense, if we can control the ball and not give it over, we're going to have a chance to win," Luck said. Reggie Wayne, who scored the go-ahead touchdown against the Chiefs, had his worst game of the season against Houston with three catches for 14 yards. His 102 receptions are nine shy of his career high from 2010. The Colts haven't had more than 300 yards in total offense in three straight weeks after eclipsing that mark in 10 of their first 12 games. Houston has never won in 10 all-time trips to Indianapolis. The Colts have won five straight home games - none by more than seven points.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

WATCH: Russell Westbrook posterizes DeMarcus Cousins to seal win

Tampa Bay Lightning trade star goaltender Ben Bishop to the LA Kings in surprise deal

Divac makes bold promise after trading DeMarcus Cousins

Popovich praises Magic, wishes him well with Lakers

Report: Andrew Bogut likely to join Cavs after buyout

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Broncos expected to 'at least discuss' Romo

Report: Raiders don't expect to keep Latavius Murray

Report: Josh Hamilton needs another knee operation

Ball's father says comment about Lakers was misquoted

Revis hints he is open to taking significant pay cut

Several NBA executives have concerns about Lonzo Ball’s father

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Box Score 2/24: A night of NBA disrespect

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

The Aesthetic: Pushing the boundaries of the three-pointer

NBA coaches who should be fired soon

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Top 10 shortstops in baseball for 2017

The most dangerous NBA teams flying under the radar

Eat, Drink, Watch: Your award-worthy weekend planning guide

Grading the NBA trade deadline on the Vince Carter scale

Streaming sports docuseries you don't want to miss

As NHL trade deadline nears, seven teams who could be dealing

The 'Pete Rose instead of Kareem? Surely, you can't be serious' quiz

Teams that can prevent a Cavs-Warriors NBA Finals three-peat

The NFL off-season is a passer’s fancy

QUIZ: Name every MLB pitcher who has recorded 10 or more shutouts in a single season

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker