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For C.J. Stroud, "playoff football" has already started


A playoff berth is still up for grabs, but in C.J. Stroud's mind, the postseason is already underway.

He and Houston bested the Broncos, 22-17, on Sunday at NRG Stadium, and Stroud's now guided the Texans to seven wins this season, with five contests remaining.

"It's hard to win after Thanksgiving," Stroud said. "It's playoff football. The tournament has already started, so got to keep it going and stack these wins."

Stroud tossed a touchdown, completed 16-of-27 passes for 274 yards, and finished with a passer rating of 106.1. Five different times on Sunday he completed a pass of 20 yards or more, and he linked up with wide receiver Nico Collins for 59, 52 and 39 yards.

The 3-yard scoring strike to Collins at the start of the third quarter was his 20th of the season, which is a franchise record for rookies. The Texans ground game averaged just three yards per carry, so in several instances Stroud had to throw it, and was still successful. It's in those times, according to Head Coach DeMeco Ryans, where Stroud shines.

"With C.J. being in the obvious passing situations, I feel like that's where he thrives the most," Ryans said. "He's comfortable in those positions. Shows up and makes those plays every single week for us when we do have to pass it. C.J. is continuing to do a really good job for us."

Stroud is atop the NFL with 3,540 passing yards, and for the second week in a row did not throw an interception. His success has caught the eye of many, including Denver quarterback Russell Wilson.

"He's a tremendous player, tremendous competitor," Wilson said. "He's going to have a great career. He's really super talented, and [I] love who he is and what he stands for spiritually and everything else, too."

Stroud and the Texans offense lost receiver Tank Dell to injury in the first half, struggled to run the ball, and converted on just 4-of-16 third down tries. That they overcame those obstacles and still picked up the win meant quite a bit to the rookie.

"Shows our resilience again," Stroud said. "We are going to fight the end and it's not always going to be perfect. No game is ever perfect. We definitely got to clean some things up, but I think we're taking steps in certain areas that we needed to, and got to just keep it going."

Stroud and Houston get that chance to keep it going next Sunday at noon on the road against the Jets.

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