Now that the Texans have won eight straight, they’ve put themselves right in the middle of the AFC race for home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Going into Sunday’s games, Houston sits at 3rd in the AFC playoff standings. Although they have the same record as the Patriots, New England owns the head-to-head tiebreaker due to winning the Week 1 matchup between the two teams. Kansas City leads the conference with a 9-2 record, putting Houston just a game back of having the best record in the conference. If the Texans are going to earn a first round bye for the first time in team history, they’re gonna need some help. Let’s take a look at some games that Texans fans should keep an eye on this week.
Minnesota at New England (Sunday 4:25 ET)
As mentioned previously, the Patriots own the tiebreaker with the Texans. The only way the Texans pass them in the standings is if New England takes another loss before the season ends. Looking at their schedule, this game is one of two challenging games NE has remaining, the other being a road game against Pittsburgh two weeks from today. Minnesota is also in the playoff hunt and needs to keep winning to avoid falling behind in the NFC wild card race. They are a talented team, but New England is tough to beat at home. Texans fans should hope the Vikings bring their “A” game.
LA Chargers at Pittsburgh (Sunday 8:20 ET)
The Chargers head to Pittsburgh Sunday night to take on the Steelers in what could be a playoff preview. If the season ended today, this game would actually be one of the wild card matchups in the AFC. LA is a well balanced team, but they will be without RB Melvin Gordon due to injury. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh is coming off of a loss to Denver which dropped them to 4th in the AFC playoff standings. As it relates to the Texans, fans should be pulling for the Chargers in this one. A win by them not only keeps Pittsburgh behind Houston, but also keeps the Chargers’ hopes of catching Kansas City for the AFC West division title alive. Those two teams meet in Kansas City in Week 15, and if Houston wants to be the number 1 seed, the Chiefs have to lose a couple of games along the way.
Kansas City at Oakland (Sunday 4:05 ET)
Speaking of the Chiefs, they travel to Oakland to face the Raiders in a divisional matchup. KC has been one of the more impressive teams in the whole league, led by MVP candidate, Patrick Mahomes. They are coming off of a bye, but they had a big change to their team due to the release of RB Kareem Hunt. Hunt was caught on video tape getting into an altercation with a young woman back in February and was cut from the team. He was one of their best offensive weapons, so it remains to be seen how the team will perform without him. Texans fans should be pulling for Oakland to win this, but it’s a longshot, at best. Oakland has been absolutely awful. One has to wonder if they are already in tank mode. Being that it is a division game, anything can happen, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up.
*All stats and records via ESPN.