After the nightmarish start, the Texans find themselves with a tremendous opportunity to get back to .500 and set up an AFC South showdown in Jacksonville next week.
Buffalo is no pushover. The Bills have the 6th best defense in the league and if their offense were doing better, that number might be higher. Their young quarterback is upside down in the TD to INT ratio, but he can make plays with his feet and you get the feeling that a big play is always right around the corner.
Out of town you’ll want to root for Dallas Sunday(Say What?!). The Cowboys play the Jags. And the Titans host Baltimore. If the two AFC South leaders lose and the Texans prevail, you’ll be looking at a tie atop the division. While no one will hold a downtown parade for that accomplishment, it’ll be a gigantic step in the right direction after everything the Texans have been through.
There was so much talk about the offense heading into the season that you might have forgotten how good this defense could possibly be.
Yes, the first four games had some ups and downs. But I’m here to remind you that Romeo Crennel’s defenders perform better as the season goes along.
In 2014, the statistical finish was middle of the pack in yards but 7th in scoring. At one point that team was 5-6 but won four of its final five games thanks in large part to a big improvement in stopping the opponent. Even the loss down the stretch was a 17-10 defeat at Indy which saw two quarterbacks get hurt. The D held up nicely despite the adversity.
The 2015 campaign started as rough as you could imagine with the blowout defeats at Atlanta and Miami. But the defense heated up as the season continued as the Texans finished third in total defense.
The following year saw J.J. Watt exit in Week 3. But the defense steadily found a rhythm, with the emergence of Jadeveon Clowney and stellar play of Whitney Mercilus and finished first in the NFL.
Last year is a throw-out. Crennel wasn’t the coordinator and there were a historic amount of injuries including five of the front seven starters.
So here we are. The Texans are coming off their best defensive performance and need to continue to build on it. Watt is back to making eye-popping, clutch plays. Clowney is rounding into form. Kareem Jackson looks like he was born to play safety and Tyrann Mathieu is making his presence felt.
The front seven has to continue to surge to help out the cornerback spot, which has seen three players go down already. The Texans could get Aaron Colvin and Kevin Johnson back but there’s little or no margin for error after the 0-3 start.
The offense certainly has to be more efficient, and there’s a certain injury of major concern. How they handle it and play through it will be key in navigating through this stretch of three games in the next 12 days.
See photos of Texans players arriving for Sunday Night Football against the Cowboys. Arrival photos are presented by Palais Royal.