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Houston Texans

Texans focused on Titans, not looking ahead


The Texans are 10-1 with the best record in the AFC, with a 10-day break between games after winning twice in overtime in five days. They play the New England Patriots in two weeks on Monday Night Football in a game that could potentially determine the top seed in the AFC playoffs.

The question was posed to Texans coach Gary Kubiak at Reliant Stadium on Wednesday: How do you keep your team from looking past this Sunday's game at the 4-7 Tennessee Titans?

"It's really easy," Kubiak said. "We were really good (at practice) today. They understand what's in front of them. I know in this league, if you go out there expecting help and worrying about things, you're probably not going to play very good, so we're focused on ourselves and taking care of our business. We know we'll have to play very good down there, and a lot better than probably we've played the last two weeks. Today was a step in the right direction."

Asked the same question, quarterback Matt Schaub said much of the same in reply.

"That's not hard for us at all," Schaub said. "It's easy for us to focus on the next thing at hand. That's what the leadership in this locker room, the veteran players, our coaches, are great at doing. We're all in here for the Titans and focused on them.

"(There's) just a sense of urgency to keep it going because we know we've got something special going and we just want to keep that thing moving forward and keep this ship in the right direction."

The Texans trounced the Titans 38-14 in Week 4 in Houston, but they have swept their AFC South rival only once, in 2004. The Texans have split the season series in each of the last four seasons and are 7-14 against the Titans overall, including 3-7 at LP Field.

"It's always intense when we play against them," wide receiver Andre Johnson said. "I don't know why. I think just because it's a division game for us, and in the past, they've had real good teams and they always gave us a lot of trouble. I can remember some games that were some tough, physical battles where the games came down to the last couple plays. There's just always going to be something there because they were the Oilers at first before they became the Titans… It kind of puts you in the mindset of one of those good college rivals."

Defensive end and team captain Antonio Smith was quick to point out Wednesday that not only is this is a division game, it's a game that could lock the Texans into a playoff spot. The Texans will clinch a postseason berth with a victory or tie against the Titans.

"You can make no mistake about it, that's in the back of everybody's mind," Smith said. "You can try not to let it be, but that's our goal. That's what you want to do is get in the playoffs, and winning this game will give us a playoff spot. And not looking forward to the Patriots, but if we win that game, then it just puts us getting closer to getting home-field advantage.

"All of these are goals that we said we wanted to achieve at the beginning of the year: To make it to the playoffs, division champs and to try to get that first-round bye, be the number one seed."

Asked about the possibility of clinching a playoff spot on Sunday, Johnson said, "that's what we play for." But he and the Texans have bigger goals in mind, and their game against the Titans is the first step in that process as they prepare to embark on the stretch run of the season.

"We've never been in this position before as a team," Johnson said. "It's a new position for us. We're learning as we go through this experience, but we know every game gets bigger because you have a chance to fight to be the top of the AFC. We know how big that could be for us if we're able to get that accomplished. Every game gets bigger and is going to continue to get bigger."

Starting on Sunday in Nashville.

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