Vandermeer's View: Division drama continues


We don't know what's going to happen in the next two weeks. But Sunday, with their backs against the wall, the Texans dug deep and churned out a win in their drive to capture the AFC South.

On a day when the defense had to take the field without four key starters, they put up a brick wall against Jacksonville and kept the fire burning for the Texans offense to get over the hump and grab a late lead.

Let's start there.

The Houston passing game has been struggling all year. After Brock Osweiler threw his second interception of the game, Tom Savage came in and got the team moving. It wasn't a touchdown scoring frenzy but he helped the team get into Nick Novak's range for an absolutely necessary 4 for 4 performance.

He also engineered the go-ahead touchdown drive and threw for the third highest yardage total of the season despite only playing two and a half quarters. All this while the Texans weren't quite getting the same pop out of their top five rushing attack.

But the defense also needs to take a bow. Ten of Jacksonville's points came on short fields after interceptions. And another touchdown was surrendered by special teams. Blake Bortles didn't hit the 100 yard mark and the Jags' ground game never got going. This was a crucial win to stay with Tennessee. The Titans are suddenly the darlings of the division and they have Jacksonville next followed by the Texans on New Year's Day. Three of their last four wins are against the Packers, Broncos and Chiefs. They are getting downright nasty.

This AFC South is slowly earning respect. The Colts, who need to win out and get a bunch of help, won convincingly today at Minnesota. And we all know what it's like to play there.

So, the plot thickens. You were hoping Kansas City would win and the Texans had the possibility of clinching Saturday night against the Bengals. But if the Titans beat the Jaguars then that game almost 'doesn't matter.' If Tennessee goes to 9-6 earlier in the day, Houston will be forced to win a week later on New Year's Day in Nashville regardless of what happens against Cincinnati.

Following along? The most important thing the Texans can do is get healthy and play better on offense and special teams. They can ill afford to absorb any more injuries. With a Saturday night game, Bill O'Brien has a short week to get his team ready for the final two games.

This thing is coming down the wire. And it's anybody's guess how it's going to turn out. The division drama continues and somehow the Texans have to protect their territory at the top.

Check out the best photos of the Texans as they take on the Jaguars at NRG Stadium.

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