Houston not doing much to validate contender status down the stretch

Minnesota, in the middle of the NFC playoff race, needed to win on Sunday. Congratulations to the desperate Vikings for getting a huge win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

But ... what exactly was that, Houston?

The Texans aren't doing anything to solidify themselves as a legitimate Super Bowl contender by getting absolutely dominated at home by a Vikings team that got just 86 yards on 25 carries from Adrian Peterson. Houston was outgained 345-187 by Minnesota, which isn't exactly in the same class as AFC contenders like Denver or New England.

[Also: Trevor Pryce: Rex Ryan might be too nice for his own good]

Add in a miserable loss to New England two weeks ago, and there has to be plenty of concern in Houston right now.

The Texans are still one of the most balanced teams in the NFL and even this clunker of a performance doesn't take away the 12 wins they've banked, but the unanswered question is that they haven't handled the type of pressure that goes along with being favored to make a deep run in the playoffs. They certainly aren't playing their best football late. Houston is 12-3 and might need a win at Indianapolis next week to secure home-field advantage through the playoffs - something it could have clinched on Sunday.

[Also: Vikings rookie kicker sets NFL record]

The Vikings, meanwhile, are still very much in the mix for a playoff spot in the NFC after the upset. They are 9-6 going into their finale against Green Bay next week. The Vikings have stayed alive with a three-game winning streak.

Unlike the Texans, they're finishing strong.

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