By Dave Thomas
When you have lost 12 games in a row, the last thing you need is one of the top teams in your conference, and the league for that matter, paying you a visit.
A 25-3 setback in Indianapolis to the Colts last Sunday was Houston’s 12th straight defeat, a season in which Super Bowl hopes quickly faded to the prospect of getting the number one pick in next spring’s NFL Draft.
With defensive coordinator Wade Phillips serving as interim head coach since Gary Kubiak’s dismissal a few weeks ago, the Texans have not been able to turn around their fortunes. Now with starting quarterback Case Keenum on the injury shelf (thumb), former starter Matt Schaub will get the call again this Sunday when the Denver Broncos visit Reliant Stadium.
Denver Has More Riding on the Game
As it turns out, the game means much more for Peyton Manning and the Broncos, as Denver (11-3) is fighting to hold off rival Kansas City (11-3) and New England (10-4) for the top spot in the AFC, a spot that guarantees home field advantage throughout the upcoming conference playoffs beginning next month.
Clearly the top team in the AFC for much of the season, the Broncos will look to get back on track this Sunday after their surprising home loss to San Diego a week ago this past Thursday. The loss, coupled with Kansas City’s rout of Oakland, allowed the Chiefs to climb back into the race for the overall best AFC record. Should the two tie at season’s end, Denver would get the top seed with its pair of victories over Kansas City.
Meantime, Houston is just looking for anything positive following 12 losses that have run the gamut from blowouts to heartbreaking defeats in the final minutes.
Schaub, who has received much of the anger from Texan fans this season, may be winding down his career with Houston, especially given that several college quarterbacks may be coming out in the spring NFL Draft. Among the names being tossed around as a possible future Texan quarterback has been Texas A&M sophomore Johnny Manziel, who many believe will play his last game for the Aggies this month when they play in a Dec. 31 bowl.
For Houston, the best scenario these last two weeks would be to score a couple of wins and end the season on a high note.
On the other hand, many Texan fans may be hoping the losing skid reaches 14 in a row, allowing Houston to get the top pick moving forward, perhaps revitalizing a franchise that went from 13-3 a season ago to the mess that has been the 2013 season.
In looking at Houston’s chances this weekend, the Texans were dealing with the following injuries as of Thursday’s practice:
DID NOT PARTICIPATE
TE Garrett Graham Hamstring
QB Case Keenum R. Thumb
WR DeVier Posey Ankle
FB Brad Smelley Back
WR Andre Johnson Wrist
FB Greg Jones Knee
CB Johnathan Joseph Groin
ILB Joe Mays Knee
ILB Darryl Sharpton Ankle
DE Antonio Smith Knee
G Wade Smith Knee
ILB Justin Tuggle Elbow
T Derek Newton Knee
S D.J. Swearinger Foot
CB Josh Victorian Back
DE J.J. Watt Hand
QB T.J. Yates Back
For more Houston Texans news and updates, visit Houston Texans Central.
Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.