The Indianapolis Colts are quite aware of who, and what, they’re going to be facing Sunday at Reliant Stadium.
Indianapolis, currently in second place in the AFC South with a 9-4 overall record and a 3-1 mark in the division, will be facing off against a Houston Texans team that has the best record in the National Football League (11-2).
The Texans are also the defending AFC South champions and are 4-0 in the division this year. Houston is also a little but wounded, pride-wise, after Monday night’s 42-14 loss to New England.
A Colts’ win and the team will have returned to the playoffs after a one-year absence.
A loss would mean Indianapolis would have to wait and see how games involving Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, the New York Jets and Baltimore come out.
The Colts, if they were to win all three of their remaining games, would have a shot at winning the AFC South title. A Houston victory, however, would wrap up the division for the Texans.
Sunday is a big game for both teams.
But interim coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is preaching patience, both to his players and to the Colts' fan base.
"[It's just] the next game,” Arians said when asked about the importance of Sunday’s meeting with the Texans.
"The division title won’t happen if we don’t win this game. If you start, again, going ahead to titles and playoffs, you lose sight of what the real picture is. The real picture is beating the Texans this week.”
He knows that Houston will be smarting after the one-sided loss to the Patriots on a national stage.
“I think they know what’s on the line and they’ve got a lot of pride. They were going to play anyway, whether they won or lost," Arians said.
"This is a pretty good rivalry and we’re going to get everything they’ve got and their crowd and everybody else. We’re more than ready for it.”
Again, he wants the Colts to be focused and to play on an even keel Sunday afternoon. Don't get too fired up to play the game.
“No it’s just the next game, it’s the most important game of the year because it is the next game. This just happens to be a big, huge division game," Arians said.
"It will have a lot of implications one way or the other like they all do, but we have an opportunity to do something special. We still haven’t done anything yet, just stay within the process of what it takes to get to Sunday.”
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• Playoff scenarios – Here are the possible playoff clinching scenarios: a Colts tie and a Cincinnati loss or tie; a Colts tie and a Pittsburgh loss or tie; a Colts tie and a Baltimore win; a New York Jets loss or tie and a Cincinnati loss; a New York Jets loss or tie and a Baltimore win, Cincinnati tie and a Pittsburgh tie.
Houston can clinch the AFC South by beating the Colts. The Texans can clinch a first-round bye if they win, New England loses or ties and Denver loses.
• Roster moves – Another Tuesday, another list of roster moves for the Colts.
Indianapolis signed running backs Deji Karim and Mewelde Moore to the active roster while placing running back Donald Brown (ankle) and fullback Robert Hughes (knee) on injured reserve.
Karim and Moore are both expected to see playing time Sunday at Houston as part of the Colts’ running rotation with starter Vick Ballard. Both were with the team earlier in the season.
"The nice thing about it is Mewelde [Moore] knows the offense and has been an excellent player in the month of December over his career so he can step right back in," Arians explained. "Deji [Karim] was here for all of the [organized team activity practices in the spring] and training camp, so he’s got a good handle on what he’s doing, it’s just getting back into football speed.”
The team also signed running back Davin Meggett to the practice squad and released running back Alvester Alexander from the practice squad. Offensive guard Justin Anderson was placed on the practice squad injured list.
Indianapolis also signed offensive guard Robert Griffin to the practice squad. Griffin (6-6, 330) played at Baylor.
• Vaughn honored by the NFL – Cornerback Cassius Vaughn has been named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 14. It's the first time Vaughn has earned the award.
He recorded a three-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter of the Tennessee game.
The interception was Vaughn’s first this season and the second of his career. In addition, he led the team with eight solo tackles and three passes broken up.
• Injury list – Sitting out Wednesday’s practice were running back Delone Carter (ankle), inside linebacker Kavell Conner (hamstring), offensive tackle Winston Justice (biceps), center Samson Satele (ankle) and safety Tom Zbikowski (knee).
Wide receiver Donnie Avery (ribs) saw limited work. Tight end Coby Fleener (knee), quarterback Andrew Luck (knee) and offensive guard Joe Reitz (head) all fully participated. Outside linebacker Dwight Freeney was given the day off to rest old injuries.
“We’ll see who can and gets through practice [Wednesday],” Arians said. “As far as other guys who were injured in the [Tennessee] game, I’ll update [their availability] later in the week on that as we go along.”