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Texans control their playoff destiny in pivotal Week 18 matchup vs. Colts

This time, “Controlling your own destiny” has a different meaning for the Houston Texans as they head into the Week 18 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Field.

Last season, they were only playing for a chance at the first overall selection in the 2023 NFL draft. With a loss, they would secure that pick over the Chicago Bears, and a win would push them no further than number two.

With Houston trailing 24-31 late in the fourth quarter, a desperation toss to the end zone from quarterback Davis Mills on fourth down landed in the hands of former tight end Jordan Akins to pull the Texans within one point. A successful two-point conversion from the same tandem would be both teams’ final score on the day as the Texans secured their third victory of the season.

Houston hopes for a repeat performance, which has different implications for both teams this time. Neither team had an opportunity to advance after the regular season concluded in 2022, but after this game, one will prepare to play in the 2023 NFL playoffs while the other prepares for the offseason.

Heading into the regular season, no one expected that these two teams, whose combined record was 7-25-2 in 2022, would be playing for a spot in the postseason. With rookie head coaches and quarterbacks, this was supposed to be a rebuilding season for both franchises.

The NFL was so sure that the Texans would not put a good product on the field that they did not give them any primetime games, as all their games started at noon (central standard time) except one. This Saturday will be the only primetime football game viewed by the nation as it was flexed from a Sunday noon kickoff.

“We’re really excited about just our opportunity and what this game means for us to earn a spot into the playoffs,” said Houston Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans. “So, we’re excited about that opportunity. Whether it’s primetime or not, it doesn’t matter to us. We just want to go out and play good football. Play our brand of football, execute, and just play clean.”

For the Texans to be successful against the Colts, they will have to erase the Week 2 31-20 loss to Indianapolis from their minds and play the style of football that has gotten them to this position. Houston has gone 9-5 since that defeat, giving them their first winning season since 2019. Coach Ryans has watched his team grow over time and knows that his players are battled, tested, and will be ready for the game.

“Yeah, we’re a completely different team; they’re a completely different team,” Ryans responded when asked about the first meeting with the Colts. “For me, it’s all a fresh start. For us, I don’t really put much weight on the first game of the year. I start watching, and I’m like, ‘Man, who is this team?’ It seems like that was so long ago, playing that second game, so fresh start for both teams. I think they have different players in, we have different players in. It’ll be a fresh start.”

Story originally appeared on Texans Wire