For only the fourth time in the last 14 years the Texans are headed into the final three games without a shot at a winning record or playoff berth.
They are one of the few franchises that can say they've only had four losing seasons in nearly a decade and a half and it feels uneasy if not eerie to be in this position.
Cal McNair made the coaching change after an 0-4 start because he correctly thought the team wasn't playing up to its potential. Had the Texans been successful in at least two of the three games in which they lost because they couldn't score form the two yard line, or if they had gotten the ball back against Tennessee or Pittsburgh or Cleveland, we could be looking at a very different situation right now.
A 6-7 record with wins over the Colts and Titans would have the Texans within reach of a threepeat to win the division. But we don't have a time machine to amend the losses so here we are.
Nothing should get the Texans attention like their bus pulling up to Lucas Oil Stadium and soaking up the big game atmosphere of a late season showdown with division title implications. Even though the Texans can't win the AFC South, they can put a dent in the hopes and dreams of the Colts.
I'll be writing this same thing, in all likelihood, in two weeks when the Titans visit NRG Stadium for the season finale. After Tennessee blasted out of the gate at 5-0 it looked like the Week 17 match-up here could be 'meaningless' but now it looms as a potentially huge game.
The Texans will have a big say on who wins the division even though they can't. The Colts and Titans are tied for first and split their season series. If Houston wins Sunday, the Colts would need to win out and hope the Titans lose their last two, as the Titans could do no worse than two losses in the division with Indianapolis having three.
Of course there might still be a way to find a spot via one of the three wild card berths.
Writing about playoff scenarios for the Titans and Colts while the Texans are out of it is like pondering who might dance with whom at the prom while I sit home and watch Netflix. But this is life in 2020.
You can be sure the Colts are not resting easy thinking about Deshaun Watson going to Indy and hurting their campaign. Also, the Houston defense shut out the Colts in the second half a week ago Sunday.
It was a close game last time and there's a good chance this will be another down-to-the-wire affair. There are only three games left. A new coach and GM are on the way. But while we're here, let's have some fun watching the boys in Deep Steel Blue try to bounce back and do some damage in Indy.
The Houston Texans roster in photos. (Updated 12/29/2020)