Whilst the Texans take a step towards health on the bye, a few favourable results swing their way but fortune must favour the brave this coming week for it to mean anything for this season’s success.
Swings of good fortune went in favour of the Texans last Sunday, as many of its AFC rivals failed to make up any ground whilst the team has a well earned break in week 10. Although no one in the building will admit, they would have relatively pleased with how Sundays result went.
The Colts were upset by the Dolphins as a former Houston favourite put on some of that ‘Fitzmagic’ to grind out a road victory in Lucas Oil stadium. The six win Bills made heavy weather of their trip to Cleveland and came away with a defeat to a struggling Browns team. The Titians game was bittersweet, as ultimately a divisional foe improved their record and are now only one game behind Houston. But their late win over the Chiefs brings the pack closer together and in the AFC.
The return to the field as an NFL starter for Brian Hoyer was perhaps the biggest factor playing into the Texans hands, this past Sunday. Although overall the former Michigan Spartan can’t be too overly critical of his performance, the three interceptions thrown were back breakers. Miami ground out a road victory and have now won two straight – so much for ‘Tank for Tua’ or ‘Bin it for Burrow’ talk, as they look resolute in their performance, despite talent deficiencies and came up trumps for the Houston cause. The loss to any team of their starting quarterback is tough to manage and Colts perhaps felt they would have faired better when choosing to hold Jacoby. it would seem a certainly he’ll be back in the lineup for the visit of the Jag’s this weekend as they begin the Nick Foles era 2.0. A game really the Texans would prefer a Jacksonville road win this coming week to keep the division tight as possible between its three adversaries.
The biggest outcome of this game for the Texans is not that the 2020 4th rounder received from Miami looks slightly further down the draft order. But when the Colts visit on Thursday Night Football, the winner will take first place in the AFC south regardless of the either teams results in week 11.
The other noteworthy tape from the division was the clear spark that Ryan Tannehill has given the Tennessee Titians. The strength of their team is perhaps on par in most area’s with much of the AFC, but they had lacked at the sports most vital position. Coach Vrabel will get them ready to play and showed last year they were capable of taking big scalps at the Nissan Stadium. So it many ways, this result shouldn’t be a shock but it was more the high scoring and continuous level of offence they were able to produce, that should be a note for the Texans. Particularly, battering-ram Derrick Henry in the running game was a bad match-up against the porous KC’s run defence but the Titans went after it and look to be much improved in the passing game versus the Mariota era. Their defensive quality has only improved with the addition of Jeffery Simmons who looks a serious threat to content with for years to come. The Titians are now 5-5, but 0-2 in the division, have the bye week to reflect prior to the visit of Jacksonville week 12.
The result perhaps puts the Texans road win at Arrowhead in a different light but the Chiefs made a number of errors across all three phases that even Mahommes wasn’t able to account for. On another day, the Chiefs have got to be confident they could win games such as this and will still be a force down the stretch on the strength of their offence alone. But that unit will need to be going at full speed to overshadow their defensive frailties. A further point to consider, if Tennessee are able to run the ball consistently and Tannehill doesn’t put them harms way with the ball security and inaccuracy that has haunted his career, then the Titans have a realistic run at making a playoff bid. I wouldn’t want to be in a position to rely on the former Texas A&M product as there’s a sizeable enough sample to date, on what he can contribute at that position. However, it would seem the late season games against the history thieves is showing a very different complexion than from just a few weeks ago.
From the release of the injury report on Wednesday, it would seem that health is returning to a team that limped into the bye without a number of starters. Mancz and Lonnie appear to be out of the concussion protocol and there were zero DNP designations, a first since week two. The return of the behemoth at left tackle will be essential for this game, Tunsil has transformed this team and hopefully a few weeks out has let him reflect on his on the false start penalties. The biggest questions, are Fuller and Roby as hamstrings are temperamental injuries and being a road game perhaps casts them into doubt. But both players give the Texans new dimensions when they are on the field, so there will be an anxious wait on their game status, for all concerned. The unknown is Teshaun Gipson, the medical staff will be doing everything they can do to get Gippy in a position to play as covering of TE’s is his speciality and will be key in Sundays game. Similarly, the team will hope they can call upon the athleticism at linebacker from Dylan Cole, the coaching staff will be keen he can shake off his knee complaint.
Sundays aren’t the same without Texans football and this week’s is perhaps their toughest test to date. Exam one of three will kick off 12 CT Sunday, the result will determine if the Texans are in the conversation for a top seed in the AFC.