Houston (CBS HOUSTON) – Despite their winning record and an AFC South crown, the Houston Texans have had an underwhelming season by many standards. The offense and specifically the quarterback position has been the epicenter for most of the problems the team has had. The final game of the regular season in Tennessee has value for cliché reasons, but also for milestones and momentum.
Sunday’s matchup against the Titans will be Quarterback Tom Savage’s second career start and a true building block going into the playoffs. He threw for 260 yards coming into the game against the Jaguars in Week 15 but only 176 yards in a full game against the Bengals the following week. The difference between those two performances is substantial and also Lamar Miller.
An issue for Tom Savage’s growth was the absence of the Texans’ 1,000 yard rusher. This season Lamar Miller has had the most carries in his career and injuries have taken a toll. Without him, Savage is forced to manage an incomplete offense and the learning curve suddenly looks like a mountain.
The impact of not having your best running back is undeniable. Imagine the Cowboys without Ezekiel Elliott, or the Steelers without Le’Veon Bell, or look at how much Aaron Rodgers has struggled in Green Bay without the ground game. Unfortunately for the Texans, the likelihood of Lamar playing in Tennessee is slim with recovery in mind and the playoffs on the horizon.
As a franchise, the Texans would seemingly love to break the spell of (9-7) seasons. With a loss to the Titans on Sunday, Houston would have that record for three years in a row. With a win, it would be just the third season in the team’s history with at least ten victories.
A game above mediocrity and early playoff exits do not draw the eye. The regular season finale in Nashville has the fans’ and the team’s momentum hanging in the balance. The Texans need limited participation from Lamar Miller, leading to a Tom Savage breakout, and a win.