The Houston Texans lost a football game for the first time since Sept. 23 with a 24-21 decision to the Indianapolis Colts at NRG Stadium on Sunday.
It was a critical victory for the Colts who remained in the playoff hunt after a disappointing shutout loss to the Jaguars last week. Andrew Luck threw for 400 yards with T.Y. Hilton responsible for half of them.
Indianapolis appeared to have carried over their struggles from Jacksonville to start the day, but Luck and company exploded for 17 points in the second quarter and never looked back.
Deshaun Watson was sacked five times in the loss and the offense could never find a consistent rhythm against the Colts. DeAndre Hopkins hauled in just four passes for less than 40 yards and the running game also struggled throughout.
The Texans are still in a favorable position with a two-game lead in the south with just three games left, but they surrendered a golden opportunity to gain a game on the New England Patriots in the fight for the second overall seed and a playoff bye.
The Patriots and Texans are both 9-4, but New England holds the advantage with a head-to-head victory over Houston in week one. The Texans will now travel to New York to face the Jets and Philadelphia before concluding their regular season against the Jags in Houston.
The Cowboys, meanwhile, have now won five straight and have all but wrapped up the NFC East with a win over the Eagles in Dallas on Sunday.
It is safe to say that the move to acquire wide receiver Amari Cooper from Oakland earlier in the season has paid off. He has had a big impact on Dak Prescott’s ability to move the ball downfield and was able to haul in three touchdowns on Sunday, including the game winner in overtime.
Prescott struggled in the first three quarters, where both defenses were in charge. Dallas led 9-6 and the Eagles had no answers for the vaunted defense of Dallas. The fourth quarter, however, would include a total of 31 points to set up the overtime period.
Carson Wentz, who looked helpless throughout the majority of the game, tossed three touchdown passes in the second half including one to Darren Sproles near the end of regulation. He led two game-tying drives in the fourth quarter alone.
Prescott and Wentz both turned it on late, but it was the former who would do it in overtime. In fact, Wentz never got a chance to touch the ball in the extra period. The Cowboys marched 75 yards on 13 plays, killing eight of the allotted 10 minutes.
On third down in the red zone, Prescott’s pass was tipped and nearly intercepted. However, the tip fell right in the hands of Cooper, who had a clear path to the end zone.
Barring a total and unforeseeable collapse, the Dallas Cowboys will be the champions of a struggling NFC East division and host a playoff game in January.
In the late slot, the Chicago Bears showed the world just how much of a threat they really are with a dominant defensive performance over the Los Angeles Rams.
Jared Goff failed to throw for 200 yards despite 44 attempts and was intercepted by the Bears four times in the cold weather at Soldier Field. Meanwhile the league’s leading rusher Todd Gurley was held to just 28 yards on 11 carries in the 15-6 Chicago win.
The most explosive and threatening defense in the NFL resides in Chicago and it is not really close. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky returned from a shoulder injury and had a poor performance, but it never mattered. The Bears did show they were able to run the ball with nearly 200 rushing yards.
Most believe that the Saints and Rams have the best chances of prevailing in the NFC, and they are probably right. But Sunday proved that a date against the Chicago defense in January could prove devastating to a high-powered offense.
It appears as if a rematch between LA and Chicago would almost certainly take place in Southern California and not in the bitter cold, but offenses everywhere have been placed on notice nonetheless.
It was similar to the statement win that Dallas picked up at home over the New Orleans Saints a couple weeks ago, when Drew Brees was held to 10 points. As explosive as 2018 has been on the offensive side of the football, will it be the defenses who get the last laugh?