Progress, Not Perfection

Now that the Texans have pulled themselves above .500, it's time to remember what Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko told his shareholders in Wall Street: "Greed is good."

The Texans are far from flawless and need to keep improving to give themselves a chance at the postseason. The running game isn't anywhere close to what Gary Kubiak wants. The pass rush and downfield coverage is still in need of tuning. The fact that the team with the league's top TD passer and a recently stout run defense led by three touchdowns but needed a last-minute stand to survive against San Francisco cannot be ignored.

Yet the Texans are playing well in enough phases to draw praise and occupy a well-deserved lane in the AFC playoff race. The coaches certainly are not happy that the team let a 21-point halftime lead slip into a late-game pressure cooker. But the Texans made the needed plays to pull out a win when in the past they might have slipped into the abyss.

Matt Schaub is doing what we all dreamed he would do when healthy. Owen Daniels continues to be a killer tight end. Steve Slaton is a big-time playmaker who has to eradicate a fumbling virus. The offense slowed down in the second half, but they haven't scored fewer than 21 points since the opener.

The defense is looking closer to being playoff-caliber than ever. Opponents haven't cracked the 60-yard mark on the ground since Week 3. They suddenly had to shift gears to thwart Alex Smith's Utah-flashback second half just in time to save the game.

Rich Lord reminded the listeners during our broadcast that the last time the Texans led by 21 at the break was against St. Louis in 2005. I was quick to point out that Houston lost that game. It almost happened again, but as I like to say, "Almost losing is so much better than almost winning."

Look around the NFL. Cincinnati crushed the Bears on Sunday. The Jets, Baltimore, Miami, San Diego, Tennessee and Jacksonville have records no better than the Texans (tiebreakers aside). Your home team is smack dab in the hunt and has plenty of chances to solidify its standing or stumble. It's up to them.

Next up is Buffalo. The Bills gave up 300 yards on the ground last week in a road win at the Jets. They dominated Carolina Sunday. They gave New Orleans a tough game before bowing three weeks ago. They are hard to figure, and if you think this should be a walk, think again.

The Texans are still in the wilderness of a four-road-games-out-of-five stretch that won't end until the bye. They need to at least get a split against the Bills and Colts to keep their necks above water and solidly remain in the chase.

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