Vandermeer's View: One step closer


There have been lot of questions thrown my way about the long term ramifications of Tom Savage being named the starter against the Cincinnati Bengals. It's certainly an interesting and important topic. But this is where football clichés come to life and are proven correct. The next game is all that matters.

Here we are with two contests to go in the regular season and the Texans have a tremendous opportunity to play games in January. Plus, if things go right, this version of the team might be playing its best ball when it gets there.

To get the job done Saturday night against Cincinnati they'll likely need to be better on the ground. I write 'likely' because even though they had their second lowest rushing total of the year (79 yards) against the Jaguars they had their highest total yardage performance thanks, in large part, to Savage's 260 passing yards off the bench. The passing total is notable because the Jaguars came into the game with the 4th best passing defense in the NFL.

This will be the eighth different starting quarterback in the Bill O'Brien era. And it's the first QB making his first career start. Savage appears to be ready. But he'll need help from his friends. DeAndre Hopkins had his second highest receptions total of the year last week with eight. And Ryan Griffin's eight grabs tied a career high. Just in time, C.J. Fiedorowicz will be back in action to help bolster the attack.

And maybe the Texans can get the ball deep to Will Fuller V, something that's been missing from the attack. But it's the ground game that needs to get back on track fast to make life easier on everyone, including the number one defense in the league.

Andy Dalton might be missing out on the playoffs but you can expect him to go all out in a virtual 'bowl' game in his home town. Dalton exorcised some NRG Stadium ghosts two years ago when he finally won here after the playoff losses in 2011 and 2012. And even though the Bengals lost some firepower in the offseason they'll get A.J. Green back from a hamstring injury and add him to the mix of some talented receivers including Brandon LaFell and Tyler Boyd.

Don't listen to anyone who tells you this is a 'meaningless' game. Regardless of what happens Saturday, at kickoff, the Texans are still alive for a three seed. That's plenty to play for, never mind division clinching or wild card contention possibilities based on what happens Saturday afternoon.

We're in the money games of the 2016 season. The Texans are breaking in a new quarterback and they have the NFL's number one defense to help the cause. Two games ago O'Brien declared it was a four game season. In that case, the Texans are halfway home to playoffs. And maybe closer if Jacksonville can upset Tennessee tomorrow.

Check out the best shots from Wednesday's practice as the Texans prepare for the Bengals.

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