With a two game lead in the AFC South, the Houston Texans (3-1) thankfully have a bit of cushion to get their legs under them after an unconvincing first quarter of the 2016 regular season. This upcoming tilt against a very good Minnesota Vikings team would be an excellent point for a classic “statement game” that could give Houston the confidence to build on going forward.
That’s a tough match-up for Houston because Mike Zimmer has led his team to a 4-0 record without starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson. The Vikings’ defense is one of the best in the NFL, and QB Sam Bradford is doing just enough to help the offense get the job done.
The other reason this is a tall order for the Texans is that they have not done very well on the road, especially against good teams, during Bill O’Brien’s tenure as head coach.
Here are the Texans’ results on the road under O’Brien:
Texans 0, Patriots 27: LOSS
Texans 17, Panthers 24: LOSS (Panthers finished 15-1, lost in the Super Bowl)
Texans 21, Falcons 48: LOSS (Falcons finished 8-8)
Texans 31, Jaguars 20: WIN (Jaguars finished 5-11)
Texans 26, Dolphins 44: LOSS (Dolphins finished 6-10)
Texans 10, Bengals 6: WIN (Bengals finished 12-4, lost in Wild Card round)
Texans 21, Bills 30: LOSS (Bills finished 8-8)
Texans 16, Colts 10: WIN (Colts finished 8-8)
Texans 34, Titans 6: WIN (Titans finished 3-13)
Texans 30, Raiders 14: WIN (Raiders finished 3-13)
Texans 17, Giants 30: LOSS (Giants finished 6-10)
Texans 17, Cowboys 20: LOSS (Cowboys finished 12-4, lost in Divisional round)
Texans 23, Steelers 30: LOSS (Steelers finished 11-5, lost in Wild Card round)
Texans 30, Titans 16: WIN (Titans finished 2-14)
Texans 23, Browns 7: WIN (Browns finished 7-9)
Texans 27, Jaguars 13: WIN (Jags finished 3-13)
Texans 10, Colts 17: LOSS (Colts finished 11-5, lost in AFC Championship)
In summary, O’Brien’s Texans on the road are:
- 8-9 overall. It’s a good thing this includes the AFC South!
- 5-1 against the AFC South.
- 3-8 against non-AFC South, including the (3-13) Raiders and the (7-9) Browns.
- 7-4 against teams with even or losing records.
- 1-5 against teams with winning records, assuming the Patriots finish strong in 2016.
- 1-4 against teams that made it to the playoffs, notwithstanding the outcome of 2016.
The victory over the Bengals on Monday Night Football last year is an example of the type of win that O’Brien and the Texans need this week against a good Vikings team up in Minnesota. It’s the fifth game of the regular season, and this is the kind of game that Houston can look back on as the point in the season when they turned the corner to build on a strong record of success for the rest of the season.