The Houston Texans started the year 0-2.
Losses to the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens (8-3) and the Indianapolis Colts at home is how things began. But then Week 3 hit with a road trip to Jacksonville.
The Texans went on the road and beat the AFC South divisional rival Jaguars by 20 – 37-17 – and secured the first win of the DeMeco Ryans and C.J. Stroud era. It moved the Texans to 1-2.
Since then, Houston has gone 5-2, won three-straight games for the first time since 2018, and now are in line for a shot at first place in the AFC South against the Jaguars at NRG Stadium come Sunday.
"It's been really cool to see our progress from the beginning of the season to now," Stroud said. "This is all we've worked for. A lot of work has been put in and now it's time to go cash in."
Ryans added: "For us, It's the next game for us. It means our guys have done a really good job and they've put the work in. They've put the work in to earn the right to be in this position. I'm proud of our guys for putting themselves in this position and now just have to go out and play clean football. Play our style of football on Sunday and be the best team within those three and a half hours."
Since the 0-2 start, the Texans have won six games, averaging 29.5 points per game in those victories, and have topped 30 or more points in four of those six wins.
That included Stroud going 20-for-30 for 280 yards and two scores against the Jaguars in his first NFL win back in Week 3.
Stroud in the last eight games, including the win over Jacksonville, has passed for 2,336 yards, 15 touchdowns with five interceptions and turned in a quarterback rating of 102.1 while completing nearly 63% of his passes.
"Early on that was one of [Stroud's] better games for sure," Texans offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik said about the first win against Jacksonville. "[Since then] he's come along in handling the pocket and handling the things that happen around playing the quarterback position, being able to keep his eyes downfield, delivering really accurate balls in the midst of chaos.
"Every week he's taken steps in the right direction."
The Texans (6-4) face the Jaguars (7-3) on Sunday inside NRG Stadium at noon on CBS.