Houston Texans: First-round bye secured, plenty of work left to do

JJ Watt of the Houston Texans (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
JJ Watt of the Houston Texans (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

The Houston Texans have taken sole possession of second place in the AFC Playoff picture. However, the team still has plenty of work left to do, let’s take a look.

The Houston Texans went to battle against the New York Jets on Saturday with a lot on the line. There was plenty the team had going on beyond just trying to get their 10th victory. Of course, all of those things stemmed from them getting that 10th win.

A win was needed to take one more step towards winning the AFC South. A win was needed in order to continue to fight for sole possession of second place in the entire AFC. The Texans main competition for that was the Patriots as both teams entered the week at 9-4 with the Patriots possessing the tiebreaker from their week one victory over the Texans.

The Texans were able to defeat the Jets on Saturday, albeit, in an ugly fashion. The defense was shredded by Sam Darnold at times, the offensive line was as porous as ever allowing six sacks on Deshaun Watson, and the rushing attack was stifled for the second week in a row.

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However, there were plenty of bright spots as well. Watson and DeAndre Hopkins had a connection that was unstoppable, they went off for 10 catches, 170 yards, and two touchdowns themselves. J.J. Watt had an outstanding game and lived in the Jets’ backfield with Jadeveon Clowney taking up residence from time to time as well.

All that being said, the Houston Texans were able to take care of business and do something that haven’t been able to do in the Bill O’Brien era: win 10 games. This is a milestone the team hasn’t been able to reach since 2012.

Now, after the Texans won on Saturday, there were three important games to this franchise. The Colts taking on the Cowboys, the Titans were facing the Giants, and the Patriots and Steelers were in a battle of historic franchises. If the Colts and Titans lost, the Texans would clinch the division. If the Patriots lost, the Texans would gain sole possession of second place in the conference.

The Colts and Titan played in the first round of games on Sunday. Unfortunately, the Colts and Titans both put on outstanding performances led by stud running backs Marlon Mack and Derrick Henry as well as defenses that shut out their opponents.

The Patriots-Steelers game was in the 3 o’clock hour and it was an ugly one. Neither team played particularly great football however the Steelers helped the Texans out in a major way by dispatching the Steelers and shutting down a Tom Brady two-minute drill. This allowed the Texans to end Sunday as the sole possessor of second place in the AFC and a first-round playoff bye.

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However, there is still plenty of work left to do for the Houston Texans. In fact, there is still a scenario in which the Texans don’t even make the playoffs. That’s right, they can fall from the 2nd seed to out of the playoff picture if they lose both of their final to games and a lot of other things happen. Now, it’s a slim chance but a chance nonetheless.

Both the Titans and Colts have a shot at the division crown before it’s all said and done. The Colts have the Giants coming to town this week while the Titans host the Redskins. Then, in the final week of the season, they’ll face off against each other. The Titans have the easier road but the Texans may have the easiest. They’ll take a trip to Philadelphia before hosting Jacksonville in the final week of the season.

Now, if the Houston Texans take care of business and win out, they’ll have nothing to worry about. It won’t matter whether or not the Patriots beat both the Jets and the Bills or if the Colts and Titans win their final two games. If the Texans win out they’ll have a first-round bye in the playoffs, something the city hasn’t seen since the 1993 Oilers. Per FPI projections, the Texans have a 48% chance at a bye. They control their own destiny.

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Next up, the Philadelphia Eagles who are without 99.9% of their cornerbacks and are also without Carson Wentz due to fractured vertebrae. The Houston Texans can decide whether or not they’ll make the playoffs and whether or not they have a first-round bye, it’s completely in their hands.