• Brian L. Barefield

Spoilers: Texans hope to shake up the AFC Playoff seedings in the next three games.

Photo Credit/Houston Texans

The Houston Texans literally watched their playoff hopes vanish into thin air in Chicago last Sunday as they lost to the Bears 36-7 in Soldier Field. Now that they have been mathematically eliminated, Houston can still have an impact on the 2020 AFC Playoff picture.

Two of their last three opponents are the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans. Both teams are currently tied at 9-4 and atop of the AFC South. The Titans hold the tie breaker based on a better divisional record. Although Houston has nothing but pride left to play for this season, each team must be prepared to play a Texans team that is ready to take the field as if they are preparing for the postseason.

“A lot of times when you start taking guys out and putting other guys in, then you’re telling your team that you’ve given up, that the game is over,” said interim head coach Romeo Crennel. “Maybe the game is over, but in competitors’ minds and athletes’ minds, the game is not over because there’s always a chance. That’s the way we look at it and that’s the way we approach it.”

Houston will also take these last three games to evaluate some of their backup players who have been forced into starter roles due to injuries or suspensions. With the wide receiver core depleted from the suspension of Will Fuller, the season-ending injury to Randall Cobb, and the uncertainty of the health of Brandin Cooks, the Texans will get another week to see how far Keke Coutee has progressed along with former practice players Chad Hansen and Steven Mitchell Jr.

It was Coutee and Hansen who had a tremendous game against the Colts two weeks ago in a 26-20 defeat that ended in a heartbreak as the Texans fumbled late inside the red zone from the two-yard line. Coutee finished that game with eight receptions for 141 yards and Hansen had five catches for 101 yards. Houston will need a repeat performance for those two in order to have any chance of winning in Indianapolis.

The Colts are fresh off of an impressive 44-27 win over the Las Vegas Raiders and if the Texans have any way of pulling off the upset, they will have to prevent the one thing that has been their Achilles heel all season and that is the running game. Houston has given up over 1,980 yards rushing at an average of five yards per carry this season and had one of its most embarrassing defensive lapses last week when they allowed Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery to take the first play from snap and run 80-yards for a touchdown.

The game plan this week will be to stop Colts rookie running back Jonathan Taylor who rushed for 150 yards on 20 carries and added two touchdowns last week against the Raiders and will be looking for a repeat performance against the Texans. If Houston can contain him and prevent wide receiver T.Y. Hilton from having a big day, they just may pull off the upset.

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