A dozen or so snow flakes fell gently through the air outside of Reliant Stadium Friday adding to the cold quiet that seemed to fill half of the giant town of Houston.
The roads were almost empty. The offices were nearly deserted. But the Houston Texans were very much at work preparing for a game Sunday in Jacksonville that in many ways can define what has been a rollercoaster of a season.
The Texans (6-8) need to beat the Jaguars to have a shot at finishing .500. A victory would also likely knock Jacksonville (8-6) out of the AFC playoffs.
Don't let anyone tell you this game isn't important.
"Just the mindset of our football team right now is we get to play a division opponent that has playoff aspirations and (we) hope to try to steal something (a playoff trip) that we can't get a hold of right now," QB David Carr said. "I think as far as what each individual is playing for on this team, there's a lot of pride, there's a lot of things that go into finishing strong and finishing the season off the way it should be."
A victory would also finish off the Texans second sweep of a division opponent this season and guarantee them a 4-2 mark within the AFC South. Not bad for a team that had won only two division games in two seasons entering this year.
With that all in mind, the Texans had a light workout in the team's practice bubble Friday, then shot out the door like a team of flying reindeer was ready to lift them to a traditional family holiday.
Head coach Dom Capers met with the media briefly to highlight injuries.
There are only a few, including RB Tony Hollings who practiced and is listed as questionable on the injury report. Starting FS Jason Simmons sat out of practice again with an injured foot but should be better by Sunday.
"We held Jason out again today but he made significant progress," Capers said. "I think he will be ready to play. Other than that I don't think there's anything out of the ordinary."
Business as usual on a day most of the city took a day off work. Light hearted holiday cheer before a trip to Jacksonville on Christmas Day for a game between two rivals that will likely feature anything but cheer.
"They're not going to get a Christmas card from me," Carr said. "I probably won't get one from them."