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By JEFF MEZYDLO
(AP) — Though Arian Foster and the Houston Texans might dislike playing on Thursdays, they can’t complain about the opportunity that awaits them this week.
The Texans can take over sole possession of the AFC South lead by avoiding a fourth consecutive defeat to a visiting Indianapolis Colts team that’s seeking a 10th straight Thursday victory.
A day after topping 100 rushing yards for the third time this season with 157 and two touchdowns in Sunday’s 20-17 overtime loss at Dallas, Foster voiced his displeasure with playing Thursday night, games in which Houston is 1-3 all-time.
“It’s annoying for players,” said Foster, second in the NFL with 101.0 rushing yards per game. “I don’t know one player that likes it. I really don’t know a fan that likes it, either. I think it’s just the league’s way of trying to generate more revenue.
“Nobody is ready to play physically after a Sunday game. But you’ve got to go out there and do it.”
Despite his disdain for the concept, Foster has averaged 5.3 yards per carry while rushing for 343 and four touchdowns in three Thursday games – most recently Thanksgiving Day at Detroit in 2012.
Foster and the Texans might loathe the quick turnaround, but they should be eager for this matchup between a pair of 3-2 teams that share the South lead.
Facing its first division opponent of the season, Houston has dropped two of three and understands what’s there for the taking. The home team has won four of five Thursday matchups this year.
“It’s a huge game for us,” offensive tackle Duane Brown said.
“The good thing about the Colts is that we’re very familiar with them. Of course you have a different game plan than we’ve had in years past, but as far as the personnel and things like that we kind of know what to expect. So that makes it a little bit easier, but it’s never easy.”
That’s certainly been the case for the Texans when facing Indianapolis, which is 20-4 in the series and snapped a three-game skid at Houston with a 27-24 victory Nov. 3. One of those Colts victories came on a Thursday night, 19-16 at home Dec. 22, 2011.
Of Indianapolis’ nine straight Thursday wins, seven have come on the road.
“You realize once the game starts, it’s football,” said the Colts’ Andrew Luck, who hasn’t thrown a touchdown but has run for three while going 2-0 on Thursday nights. “There’s no use complaining or whining about anything. It’s what you do.”
Looking for a fourth consecutive victory overall, the Colts (3-2) have outscored Jacksonville, Tennessee and Baltimore 105-47 in the last three games.
An Indianapolis defense that yielded 819 total yards, forced one turnover and recorded one sack in the first two games has given up 892, forced nine turnovers and posted 11 sacks during the three-game winning streak.
“It’s the tip of the iceberg,” said end Cory Redding, who has a sack in two straight contests. “We have so much more to gain, to improve and still get better at.”
Luck leads the NFL with 1,617 passing yards and 14 touchdowns but is also tied for the league lead with six interceptions. Though he was picked off twice in Sunday’s 20-13 win over the Ravens, he threw a TD and ran 13 yards for a fourth-quarter score that put the Colts up 14.
The Houston native has completed 50.4 percent of his passes in four games against the Texans, but he’s thrown nine TDs and one INT while going 3-1. He passed for 271 yards and three touchdowns without a pick in last season’s victory at Houston.
Teammate Reggie Wayne has caught six touchdowns while averaging 104.1 yards per game in his last seven Thursday contests. With seven catches for the second straight game last Sunday, Wayne extended his NFL record of consecutive games with three or more receptions to 76.
Indianapolis’ offense, however, might not run quite so efficiently without starting guards Jack Mewhort (ankle) and Hugh Thornton (back), both of whom will miss the game. Mewhort will miss his second straight contest while Thornton was hurt last week.
Houston’s Andre Johnson had five receptions Sunday to become the second fastest to reach 950 catches, giving him 954 in 159 contests.
Though Johnson has yet to record a 100-yard receiving effort or score a touchdown in 2014, he’s averaged 158.3 yards while totaling 27 receptions and five TDs in the last three home contests against Indianapolis. He had nine catches, 229 yards and a career-high three TDs in last season’s home defeat to the Colts.