Colts know better than to overlook struggling Texans

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INDIANAPOLIS – It’s so easy to forget what they were just 12 months ago.

In fact through seven games in 2012 the Texans had yet to lose a contest and appeared in the driver’s seat for the AFC’s top seed in the playoffs. Fast forward a year later, and things are nearly the complete opposite.

No, Houston has not lost every game they have played this season. They’ve got two victories under their belt, but five losses and sloppy play have turned an AFC favorite into an also-ran halfway through this NFL season.

Yet there is still one honor they have that catches the eye of Andrew Luck-AFC South Champions.

“I’m sure they wish their record was better than what it is, but that’s all thrown out the window. These are the division champs,” said Luck. “These are the reigning champs and we want to be where they were, so we know it goes through them.”

At the moment it actually goes through the Colts, who this Sunday night can give themselves a considerable advantage in regaining the AFC South throne. The Colts currently have a two-game lead over the Titans and are up three over the Texans and a win Sunday at Reliant Stadium all but eliminates the defending champions from the race.

Both teams will be coming off the bye week going opposite directions, but Chuck Pagano is sure that his team has its thoughts in the right place when it comes to Houston.

“It sounds cliché, but that’s what it is. It’s a division game. It’s on the road. Primetime again. You start reading the press clippings and worrying about power rankings and all this other stuff, you’re done. You’re done,” said Pagano. “We’re going to stick with the process. Today, we started back on the process. Tomorrow is a day off, but most of these guys, like last week, they won’t take a day off. They’ll be in here.”

A number of the usual suspects will be there on the Texans for the Colts to prepare for the next few days. Elite receiver Andre Johnson and running back Arian Foster remain with the team along with a strong defense that is tops in the NFL in points allowed.

But gone is a struggling Matt Schaub who will be on the bench as Case Keenum makes the start on Sunday after Schaub started the season with nine interceptions, a number of which have been returned for touchdowns.

The passing struggles of Houston have made the defending division champs vulnerable, but enough weapons exist to take them seriously.

“Those guys have a lot of talent and a lot of pride. Going into their house it will be a hostile environment, and like you said, those guys, their back’s against the wall so they’re going to come out swinging,” said cornerback Darius Butler. “This is a division game. They won the division the last two years and we’re looking to take care of the division this year, so this is a big game for us.”

It’s importance wasn’t lost over a long bye week either. A small practice was held after the team’s big win over the Broncos on Monday and then the team was given the rest of the week off. Luck says the focus still remained on the Texans.

“I know from our perspective on offense – great defense, maybe the best defense in the NFL. I don’t think there is or will be any problem of flipping the switch and getting back going,” said Luck. “I don’t think guys really turned it off completely either. It’s great to relax, great to get your mind off of things, but we’re excited for this week and a great test down in Houston.”

One that could help them reclaim the throne of the AFC South.