By Dave Thomas
If you had told an NFL fan at the start of the season that Houston would be trailing Jacksonville in the standings after 12 games, they would probably have suggested you seek a psychologist.
Yet, as the NFL winds down its final month of regular season play, here are the Jaguars a game ahead of the Texans with four games to go. Yes, the NFL and all sports for that matter can lead to some strange happenings.
As many already know by now, saying the Texans would be 2-10 after 12 weeks of play would have been as predictable as saying the Astros would have won 100 games during this past MLB season.
The Texans have dealt with myriad of injuries, illness at the head coaching position, and even some in-fighting on the sidelines in recent weeks. Still, there probably are not too many people out there that could have foreseen this train wreck coming. To make matters worse, this was a season where the AFC South was pretty much up for grabs.
When you break down the AFC South, there is certainly no dominant team residing there in 2013.
Yes, the Indianapolis Colts are the front-runners to date, but they have shown the ability to get whacked at times, most notably a humbling loss a few weeks back at home to the below .500 St. Louis Rams. While Tennessee has played some spirited ball at times this season, the Titans are by no means a lock to slip into the AFC playoffs as a wild card.
So, how bad must they be feeling in Houston this season, especially after last season when the Texans not only won their division, but captured a first-round playoff win over Cincinnati? If you asked most of those folks associated with the Texans, they would likely say really bad.
Jacksonville Showing Improvement
With 10 straight losses to their credit, the Texans now take to the road this Sunday for a meeting in Florida with their division rivals the Jaguars.
After getting off to what can only be termed a complete disaster to start the season (Jags were the second to last team to win their first game of the 2013 season), Jacksonville has steadied the ship to a degree. Granted a 3-9 mark is nothing to brag about, but the Jaguars are not the complete patsies they were earlier in the campaign.
As for what Houston can expect to face come Sunday; Jacksonville QB Chad Henne (2,319 yards passing, 6 touchdowns) is certainly not the second coming of Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson, but he can move the ball, especially with one of the lesser-known but talented receivers in the league, Cecil Shorts III. Shorts has compiled 764 receiving yards and two TD’s to date.
On the ground, veteran running back Maurice Jones-Drew has rushed for 616 yards and five touchdowns this season.
Defensively, Jacksonville (13-6 winners over Houston in Week 12) turns to Penn State product Paul Posluszny (113 total tackles this season) and Jason Babin (4.5 sacks).
For the all-time series, the Texans hold a 13-10 advantage.
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.