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VanderBlog: Next Steps


If I told you back in July that the Texans would be 6-5 going into December, and right in the thick of the playoff hunt, you certainly would have taken it.

Here we are, going into the money month of the season with all sorts of fun possibilities in the coming weeks.

The loss to the Jaguars produced a get-better to-do list the coaching staff must sink their teeth into quickly.

There were too many flags in critical situations and running the ball became difficult again. With all that didn't go right, plenty did. The Texans were a few inches away from tying the game and taking it from there.

They've been living on the edge. This is the seventh consecutive game that's come down to the wire. The Texans have won four of them. They've fought through injuries and a lack of experience to get this far. Now comes a six game push that will go a long way to determining how we look at 2023.

Houston has a record-setting rookie quarterback and a solid run defense. This team is far from perfect but it plays together and it's a thrill to watch.

The stakes were high in the Jacksonville game. The Texans could have been in first right now but they find themselves in 3rd place in the AFC South, thanks to an opportunistic Colts team that happened to get a win at NRG Stadium in Week 2.

Now comes Denver. The stakes are greater. This is what happens. This isn't your early-season Broncos. They've righted the ship and they're hungry to challenge for a playoff spot. The Texans have never beaten Russell Wilson. The Broncos give up yards on the ground and don't rack up that many. But they're the hottest takeaway team in the league and they're tied for the longest winning streak, having won five straight.

We can talk all day about big division games (three of them) to close out the regular season and how the Browns are visiting on Christmas Eve and all that. But the only thing that matters to the players and coaches is to regen and reload for the Broncos, and then get ready for New York

This is a tight league and a tight race. All the AFC South teams were in once-score games on Sunday. The Texans have lived this way for two months. They'll be raring to go Sunday at noon for Denver.

Last week we talked about arriving early and being loud and vocal at NRG Stadium. The same applies this week, and every week, for that matter. This is now a bigger game than last week and the Texans try to push their way to the front of the mosh pit of AFC playoff contenders.

What's next is all the matters.

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