The Houston Texans started the season 0-3 and the Indianapolis Colts 1-5, yet they will kick off the NFL postseason on Saturday afternoon in an all-AFC South Wild-Card matchup from Houston.
It’s very rare a team that starts a season 0-3 makes the playoffs, but that’s the case for the 2018 Houston Texans, who are the AFC South champions. They are just the sixth team in the Super Bowl era to make the playoffs after losing the first three. The only team among the previous five to win a division title was the 1992 San Diego Chargers. They are the only club among the five to also win a playoff game.
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Third-seeded Houston was last in the AFC South last year. It was most recently in the playoffs in the 2016 season, winning a home Wild-Card game vs. Oakland but then losing in New England.
Indianapolis became only the third team in the Super Bowl era to reach the postseason after starting the year 1-5. The Colts took a winner-take-all game at Tennessee on Sunday night, 33-17, for the AFC’s final playoff spot behind another big game from Andrew Luck. It’s the franchise’s first playoff berth since the 2014 season when the Colts made it to the AFC title matchup, losing in New England in a game that spawned the term “Deflategate.”
The Colts and Texans split two meetings this season, each winning by a field goal on the road. They have never met in the playoffs. Indianapolis is 5-0-1 ATS in its past six trips to Houston.
The Colts’ only loss in their final 10 games was a Week 13 puzzler at Jacksonville, 6-0. Luck won’t win MVP this season – Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes will – but played like one and should win NFL Comeback Player of the Year. After missing all of 2017 due to shoulder injury, he finished fifth in passing yards (4,593) and second in TD passes (39 – most ever by a QB after missing the entire previous season).
Unlike most of Luck’s other teams in his NFL career, these Colts also have a good running game and defence. In 12 games, second-year Marlon Mack had 908 yards and nine TDs rushing. Linebacker Darius Leonard led the NFL in tackles and likely wins NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. First-year coach Frank Reich, who wasn’t even the team’s first choice, has done a masterful job.
The Texans clinched the division title with Sunday’s 20-3 home win over Jacksonville. QB Deshaun Watson, who of course led Clemson to a pair of national championship games (winning one), threw for 234 yards and rushed for a touchdown vs. the Jags. Watson is the first quarterback to throw for at least 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns and rush for 500 yards and five touchdowns in a single season in league history.
DeAndre Hopkins, arguably the NFL’s best receiver, had 12 catches for 147 yards. Hopkins finished with career highs this season in catches (115, tying a franchise record) and receiving yards (1,572). Houston held the Jaguars to just 119 yards. J.J. Watt had 1.5 sacks and finished with 16.