A look at Sunday's matchup between the Vikings and Texans:
One man's prediction: It will take more than just a big day from running back Adrian Peterson for the Vikings to pull the upset. The Houston defense is too active and feisty to expect the Vikings offense to deliver another low-penalty, no-turnover road effort as it did last weekend in St. Louis. The Vikings' playoff chances take a hit with a loss.
J.J. for MVP?
Houston defensive end J.J. Watt has been disruptive all season, a complete player with a high motor and a thirst to learn. It's not just that he is within striking distance of Michael Strahan's single-season sacks record, three shy of that 22 1/2 mark. He also has 15 pass deflections (six of which led to interceptions), three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries plus 18 runs stopped for loss and another 15 halted for no gain. Said coach Gary Kubiak: "He's not going to sit in one spot all day long. When a guy's able to do that, it frees him up to make more plays."
The Vikings have every reason to be concerned with stopping Houston's duo of Andre Johnson and Arian Foster. But the X-factor in the Texans offense might be tight end Owen Daniels, who has 56 catches, 662 yards and a team-best six TD grabs this season. Daniels has been a welcome safety valve for quarterback Matt Schaub, who has been efficient this season. In seven home games, Schaub has completed 69.4 percent of his passes for 2,012 yards, 13 TDs and four interceptions.
The Vikings' two-game winning streak has been sparked by an opportunistic defense that has taken significant pressure off Christian Ponder and the offense. The Vikings have turned four takeaways into 24 points, returning two interceptions for touchdowns and another to the 5-yard line. Plus, Blair Walsh's first field goal last week, from 50 yards out, came after the Vikings followed a fumble recovery with a minus-4-yard drive.
15 Turnover margin for the Texans, second best in the league. Houston's defense has 15 interceptions this season and 13 fumble recoveries. Its offense has a league-low 13 turnovers.
DeVier Posey, Texans: The rookie wide receiver out of Ohio State had three catches for 46 yards in last week's victory (he had one entering the game) and figures to be a bigger part of the offense against the Vikings.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson vs. Texans tailback Arian Foster
Stands just 188 rushing yards shy of 2,000 and 293 short of Eric Dickerson's NFL single-season record.
Leads the AFC with 1,313 rushing yards and has scored a league-high 16 TDs.
Who has the edge?
Foster. Peterson has been the leading rusher in 13 of 14 games this season. The only opposing back to outrush him was Tampa Bay's Doug Martin (135-123) in Week 8. But if Houston can take an early lead, Foster might have an inside track on a bigger day.
|San Diego||12/12/13 7:25 PM|
|Washington||12/15/13 12:00 PM|
|San Francisco||12/15/13 12:00 PM|
|Seattle||12/15/13 12:00 PM|
|Chicago||12/15/13 12:00 PM|
|Houston||12/15/13 12:00 PM|
|Buffalo||12/15/13 12:00 PM|
|New England||12/15/13 12:00 PM|
|Philadelphia||12/15/13 12:00 PM|
|Kansas City||12/15/13 3:05 PM|
|NY Jets||12/15/13 3:05 PM|
|Arizona||12/15/13 3:25 PM|
|New Orleans||12/15/13 3:25 PM|
|Green Bay||12/15/13 3:25 PM|
|Cincinnati||12/15/13 7:30 PM|
|Golden State||41||3rd Qtr|
|LA Clippers||44||3rd Qtr|
|Orlando||2||1st Qtr 9:16|
|Columbus||0||1st Prd :46|
|NY Islanders||9:00 PM|
|VU of Lynchburg||44||2nd Half 16:24|
|Fair-Dickinson||31||2nd Half 17:37|
|Bryant||39||2nd Half 12:39|
|UMass Lowell||23||2nd Half 13:50|
|Long Island||19||1st Half 7:07|
|Alcorn State||27||1st Half 1:40|
|Fisk||14||1st Half 13:19|
|Thomas (GA)||6||1st Half 15:48|
|Manchester||8||1st Half 13:30|
|Bethune-Cookman||2||1st Half 17:57|
|Western State||8:00 PM|
|Army||12/14/13 2:00 PM|
|Furman||39||2nd Half 15:53|
|Columbia||39||2nd Half 17:01|
|West Virginia Tech||20||2nd Half 15:59|
|Loyola-Maryland||27||2nd Half 16:59|
|Siena||31||2nd Half 15:09|
|Seton Hall||4||1st Half 16:25|
|Aug 9 - vs. Houston||7 pm||X||27-13|
|Aug 16 - at Buffalo||6 pm||X||20-16|
|Aug 25 - at San Francisco||7 pm||X||34-14|
|Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee||7 pm||X||24-23|
|2013 regular season|
|Sep 8 - at Detroit||Noon||X||34-24|
|Sep 15 - at Chicago||Noon||X||31-30|
|Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland||Noon||X||31-27|
|Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London)||Noon||X||34-27|
|Oct 6 - Bye|
|Oct 13 - vs. Carolina||Noon||X||35-10|
|Oct 21 - at. NY Giants||7:40 pm||X||23-7|
|Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay||7:30 pm||X||44-31|
|Nov 3 - at Dallas||Noon||X||27-23|
|Nov 7 - vs. Washington||7:25 pm||X||34-27|
|Nov 17 - at Seattle||3:25 pm||X||41-20|
|Nov. 24 - at Green Bay||Noon||26-26|
|Dec 1 - vs. Chicago||Noon||X||23-20|
|Dec 8 - at Baltimore||Noon||X||29-26|
|Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia||Noon|
|Dec 22 - at Cincinnati||Noon|
|Dec 29 - vs. Detroit||Noon|