JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Not many around professional football envisioned the Texans winning more than five or six games this season.
Sunday's 21-0 victory at Jacksonville guaranteed at least seven wins for Houston this season and a 4-2 mark in the AFC South. Not bad for a team that had only two division wins the past two seasons.
That number includes a sweep of division rivals Tennessee and Jacksonville, the first in team history.
"We're proud of that," head coach Dom Capers said after Sunday's game. "So we feel like we've made great strides in the right direction with the four wins and now we have one (game) left against Cleveland."
A win over Cleveland next week and the Texans would finish the season 8-8, out of the playoffs but very much in the thick of momentum heading into next season.
"Obviously, that's extremely important because (those are) your opponents, that's what you're playing for," Texans LB Kailee Wong said of the club's division record. "In order to make the playoffs you have to do well in your division. It's very important for us to continue to play well against those teams."
Most teams who finish 4-2 in the division make the playoffs, but in the power heavy AFC, nothing is guaranteed. Indianapolis won the AFC South two weeks ago in Houston and will finish the season with a 5-1 division record.
The Texans will finish second in the division with a win over Cleveland and a Jacksonville loss. The team finished last in the division in 2002 and 2003.
"That's good," CB Aaron Glenn said. "That's what we we're looking for, to go out there and be 4-2 against our division. I think it's the toughest division in football. That's something we can hang our hat on. As far as next year that's something we have to look at and continue to build on."
The AFC South had two teams – Tennessee and Indianapolis – make it to or past the divisional round of the playoffs last season. Both lost to eventual Super Bowl champion New England.
The Jaguars (8-7) still have a shot to make it into the playoffs this season, but those hopes took a major shot Sunday afternoon.
Houston (7-8) has already built on several milestones this season. Sunday marked the third two-game winning streak in team history. The Texans entered 2004 with no such streak.
A win against the Browns (3-11 entering Sunday night) would also give Houston a 3-2 mark in the month of December, its best in three years.
So there is plenty left to play for.
And plenty to be proud of.
"A lot of people thought we wouldn't win more than six games this year," DE Gary Walker said. "Finish 8-8 … That insures we won't have a losing season. We'll deal with that next Sunday (against the Browns)."