Despite all of the injuries that the Texans have been through they are a franchise best 7-3. They are tied for the best record in the AFC and they have a two game lead on their division. However, none of this will matter if they don’t finish the season strong.
The Texans had their bye week late and because of that the “second half” of their season is only six games, but they are the most important six games in franchise history. This critical stretch starts with a game at long time rival Jacksonville. The Jaguars always play a tough, physical game against the Texans and they were particularly unhappy about the Texans being “dirty” after the last game.
The Jaguars struggle on offense as they are “led” by rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert who has struggled this season to say the very least. The offense is bolstered by MJD, but there is only so much the little mighty mite can do. He is averaging 94 yards per game but simply needs more help from the offense.
The Jags’ defense is very good, allowing just 300 yards per game (3rd in the NFL), but they will have trouble stopping the second-ranked rushing attack with Foster and Tate leading the Texans. It will certainly be a low scoring game but the Texans defense is better than the Jags’ and the Texans running game is better than the Jags. The Texans should win this one after a very rough game.
Next the Falcons come into town and with Roddy White seeming like he is 100 percent and Julio Jones more than likely back on the field this will be the toughest test for the secondary down the stretch. The only other passing attack that the Texans have faced that could compare is the Saints offense. However, the Texans have the second best pass defense in the NFL. This is even more shocking when you consider the fact that they have been in the lead for most of the games they have played and teams have been trying to throw on them.
The Texans have a great rushing attack but it will be tested again as the Falcons have the second ranked rush defense. Matt Schaub going down could not have come at a worse time in terms of the defenses that the Texans are facing. The Texans lose this one against a very good opponent, but they begin to draw more criticism for not beating the best teams that they have faced.
The schedule doesn’t do the Texans any favors at this point because they have to go to Cincinnati to play against the third ranked rush defense in the NFL. This should be another ugly, physical, and tough game. The weather would presumably be terrible and without Schaub playing for the Texans and the Bengals possibly missing their rookie sensation A.J. Green this could be another very low-scoring game.
The Texans win this one but it may take a clutch kick from Neil Rackers or some help on special teams to make this happen. The Bengals will be playing for a playoff spot just like the Texans and this is a game they will have circled on their schedule as winnable.
The Texans face the Panthers and Cam Newton next. The Panthers are 2-8 right now with the 30th ranked rush defense. That would seem to be a slam dunk for the Texans who will be playing at home. The Texans should run away with this game but Newton is the type of dynamic player who can win a game on his own. The Texans win this one but Brian Cushing might have to have a great day containing Newton.
This is the game that may seem the most unbelievable for the Texans and their fans. The Colts could be coming into this game 0-15 and looking for Andrew Luck with the first pick of the NFL Draft and the Texans could be looking for their eleventh win and a first round bye. Both of those trends should continue as the Colts have done almost nothing well, and certainly not well enough to win.
If things play out this way the final game of the season will almost certainly be meaningless for the Titans. They are currently two games behind the Texans, and the Texans have the tiebreaker.
With Chris Johnson playing like a shell of his former self this could be the last time that he suits up in a Titans uniform. With the Texans rush defense it probably won’t go well for him. At this point the Titans will almost certainly be starting Jake Locker who has shown flashes of playing well but like all rookie quarterbacks has moments where he simply makes mistakes. The Texans aggressive defense should eat him up.
That means that the Texans should finish the final six games of the regular season 5-1. The Cincinnati game is close enough that the Bengals might be able to pull that game out, which would leave the Texans record at 4-2. The only possible difference that makes is if the Texans have a first round bye. At 12-4 the Texans would almost certainly have a first round bye. At 11-5 it would be much tougher to assume that they don’t have to play on wild card weekend.
At this point any Texans fan should be ecstatic to just be in the playoffs. After a decade filled with disappointment and heartbreak the team is finally in the playoffs after winning the AFC South and has a chance to do something special.