The third meeting of the season is win or go home for the AFC South foes

Texans vs. Colts: An early look at the playoff matchup

Andrew Luck led the Colts to a win. Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Texans will host the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Wild Card round this Saturday. It will be the third meeting this season between the two teams with each of them winning on the road in the regular season. Houston bested the Colts in late September with Indianapolis returning the favor by beating the Texans in early December.

The Overtime Oops

The first meeting saw a winless Texans team escape with what was the start of a nine-game winning streak. They were in position to avoid the tie and win thanks to Frank Reich and the Colts ineptitude in overtime. The Colts won the toss and their first drive ended deep in Texans territory with a drop on third down. They would kick the field goal. After the Texans answered with three of their own the Colts faced a 3rd and 21 thanks to a Jadeveon Clowney sack. Luck would hit his wideout for 17 yards.

It was then Frank Reich made a decision that certainly haunts him to this day. He decided to go for it on fourth down with four yards to go on their own 43. Luck's wideout ran a route a little too deep and couldn't come up with the low pass. The Texans would kick a field goal for a win three plays later.

The Colts erased an 18 point deficit with ease in the second half scoring on three of their four drives. The Texans managed just a field goal after their dominant opening drive out of halftime. Kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn missed a 59-yard field goal as time expired but hit his other opportunities. The Colts had the Texans number in the second half but managed almost nothing on the ground against the Texans defense. It was all Luck and despite the loss one of the best games of his career. If the Colts didn't have five drops, two in overtime, they likely win this game and this weekend's game would be at Lucas Oil not NRG Stadium.

There's two sides to Reich's decision. One, if he doesn't do it and the Colts win the second game, like they did, they would be hosting the game as AFC South winners. The other side is the this helped galvanize the mentality of the Colts and endear the new head coach to his team. I find this angle hard to believe because they lost their next two before getting hot.

The End of the Streak

The final score and people getting angry at Jadeveon Clowney will make people think the game was a lot closer than it was but the Colts thoroughly outplayed the Texans at NRG stadium in the second meeting, ending the nine game winning streak. A huge second quarter where the Texans allowed 17 points and an answer immediately by the Colts, highlighted by one of the many huge T.Y. Hilton plays, kept the Texans at a distance they couldn't close.

Neither team could run the ball in this game but the Texans pass rush was neutralized to a large degree. They were able to get to Luck just twice for a sack while the Texans offensive line struggled, allowing five sacks of Watson. It was also a game where Watson missed a couple of throws he typically doesn't miss.

The concerning part is the Colts were missing a couple of key players, safety Mike Mitchell, center Ryan Kelly, and wideout Dontrelle Inman were all out for that game. Zach Fulton missed that game for the Texans. It showed the Texans still didn't know how to defend Luck and attack him with their talented pass rush.

Ugly Numbers for Texans Defense

Andrew Luck

65 percent completion percentage

863 yards

6 Touchdowns

1 Interception

T.Y. Hilton

13 Receptions

314 yards

Third Times a Charm

The last time division opponents met in the playoffs was last season when the Saints played the Panthers in the Wild Card round and finished the sweep of them. The last time it happened in the AFC it was a situation almost exactly like this one. The Steelers ended up as the sixth seed after losing at home to the Bengals and beating them on the road. The Texans hope history doesn't repeat itself as the Steelers went on the road and beat the Bengals.

Rushing Return?

The Texans ran the ball well against the Colts in the first game but their recent rushing woes were present in game two. The Colts simply couldn't run on the Texans in either game; most teams can't. They moved the ball well on the ground though against the Titans to make the playoffs but outside of pounding the Cowboys on the ground they've struggled to get over 100 yards recently.

Indianapolis has shown twice they score on the Texans without rushing the ball well. The Texans can rarely say that is the case with how they run their offense. Houston rushed for over 100 yards for the first time in four games. Deshaun Watson's legs did most of the work in that element. If they can get production on the ground they can not only score on the Colts but better control the game. If the Colts somehow can run the football, it could get ugly for the Texans.

Disrespect Card

Get used to it over the next few days, Texans fans. The Texans will be the trendy pick to get upset at home. As they should, by the way. The Colts should have tied them and then won the AFC South. They didn't though so the Texans get the benefit of hosting in this round of the playoff. Make no mistake, though they were outplayed in large stretches by Indianapolis, the Texans can absolutely beat the Colts at home. They didn't put together complete games either time. If the Texans play a complete or close to complete game they will be headed to New England to take on the Patriots the next week.

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Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After the Mariners came alive late in Monday's series opener to hand the Houston the loss and keep their playoff picture hanging in the balance, the Astros returned to T-Mobile Park on Tuesday to try and decrease their magic number. Here's how the middle game went:

Final Score: Astros 6, Mariners 1.

Record: 28-27, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Framber Valdez (5-3, 3.57 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Casey Sadler (1-2, 5.40 ERA).

Both teams trade first-inning runs

The Astros struck first in Tuesday's game, not waiting around until the ninth inning to get on the board. Instead, they jumped out to an immediate 1-0 lead after a two-out RBI-single by Kyle Tucker in the top of the first. The Mariners responded quickly, though, getting a leadoff single in the bottom of the inning before a two-out RBI-double of their own to tie it 1-1.

Astros score five in the sixth

The 1-1 score held all the way until the top of the sixth when the Astros would flip the script from the night prior, taking advantage of some mistakes by Seattle to put up a big inning. First, Michael Brantley started the inning with a solo go-ahead homer to make it 2-1. Then, Kyle Tucker would get his third hit of the night with one out before eventually scoring after a walk and two wild pitches, making it 3-2. With two walks to keep the inning alive and put some insurance runs on base, Martin Maldonado took advantage with a big three-run home run to extend the lead to 6-1.

Valdez finishes seven strong, Astros even series

After allowing the one run in the bottom of the first, Framber Valdez recovered and put together a solid outing on the mound. He allowed just five hits total, two of which came in the first, then back-to-back singles in the fourth and a single in the fifth, while otherwise keeping the Mariners at bay. He would end up completing seven innings of one-run baseball while striking out eight. His final line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 0 HR, 108 P.

After Valdez, Enoli Paredes would take over in the bottom of the eighth, working around a leadoff single to get a scoreless inning to keep it 6-1. In the non-save situation, Josh James would come in for the bottom of the ninth and finish off the win for Houston.

Up Next: The finale and rubber game of this three-game set will start a bit earlier on Wednesday, with first pitch scheduled for 5:40 PM Central. The pitching matchup will be Nick Margevicius (1-3, 5.35 ERA) for the Mariners going against Zack Greinke (3-2, 3.90 ERA) for the Astros.

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