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By Dave Thomas

Coming into the season, you would not have been laughed at if you had the Houston Texans as a possible Super Bowl candidate coming out of the AFC. Five weeks into the season, be prepared to be laughed at.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 06:  Quarterback Matt Schaub #8 of the Houston Texans drops back to pass against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on October 6, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

(Credit, Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

As they head into their Sunday meeting at home with the St. Louis Rams, the Texans sit at 2-3, precariously hanging around in the AFC playoff hunt. While they are far from being eliminated, the Texans know that these next few weeks are essentially must-win games, starting with the 2-3 Rams.

Having begun the season at 2-0 (close wins over San Diego and Tennessee), the Texans proceeded to drop three straight. The losses included blowout defeats on the road at Baltimore (30-9) and San Francisco (34-3), with a heartbreaking 23-20 overtime loss two weeks ago at Reliant Stadium to the 4-1 Seattle Seahawks.

Kubiak Sticking With His Starting QB

One common denominator in the losses has been the inconsistent play of starting quarterback Matt Schaub.

The University of Virginia product’s play has been so bad in recent weeks that he was even confronted by a fan outside his residence following the team’s recent loss. While that is certainly over the top for any fan to do, one gets the sense that Schaub is walking on egg shells right now, though head coach Gary Kubiak stated as recently as a few days ago that he is sticking with his quarterback.

Schaub’s toughest moment in recent weeks was likely in the Seattle loss, a game in which the Texans were driving down field to ice the game, only to see Schaub serve up a game-tying touchdown. Battered and bruised both physically and mentally after that loss, Schaub’s fortunes were no better in the loss at San Francisco last Sunday evening.

In what looked like a good game on paper to start the season, the 49ers dismantled the defending AFC South champs rather thoroughly, leaving Schaub and Co. in the midst of a three-game losing streak.

With a beatable team in the Rams coming to town, some Houston fans are likely looking at Sunday’s contest as do-or-die for their team.

A victory, and the Texans are at .500 heading into a meeting Oct. 20 on the road with the presently unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs (5-0). A loss, and a record of 2-4 could pretty much leave the Texans having to seven or eight of their remaining games just to have a shot at the post-season.

When Houston takes the field Sunday versus St. Louis, they will do so with some question marks.

As of Thursday, several players missed practice due to injuries, including star wide receiver Andre Johnson (shin) and inside linebacker Tim Dobbins (hamstring). Meantime, key players including running back Arian Foster (thumb/chest) and left tackle Duane Brown (toe) saw limited participation, looking to recover from nagging injuries.

While there are definitely some physical injuries with the Texans, the mental injuries of a three-game losing streak may be the bigger obstacle to overcome come Sunday at Reliant Stadium.

Thursday (10/10/13)

Did not participate

  • ILB Tim Dobbins (hamstring)
  • WR Andre Johnson (shin)
  • WR Keshawn Martin (shoulder)
  • ILB Darryl Sharpton (foot)

Limited participation 

  • OLB Bryan Braman (neck/knee)
  • RG Brandon Brooks (toe)
  • LT Duane Brown (toe)
  • RB Arian Foster (thumb/chest)
  • FS Ed Reed (knee)
  • LG Wade Smith (knee)

Full participation

  • ILB Brian Cushing (knee)
  • T Ryan Harris (elbow)
  • CB Brice McCain (knee)
  • C Chris Myers (biceps)
  • RT Derek Newton (knee)
  • S Eddie Pleasant (ankle)
  • WR DeVier Posey (achilles)
  • DE Antonio Smith (quadricep)
  • RB Ben Tate (elbow)
  • DE J.J. Watt (nose)

For more Houston Texans news and updates, visit Houston Texans Central.

Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.

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