The 2018 Houston Texans are no strangers to adversity, becoming the first team in NFL History to win eight straight games after a 0-3 start. Playing with heavy hearts following Friday's news of Owner Bob McNair's passing, the Texans, once again rallied together to win resoundingly.
Tennessee waltzed into NRG Stadium clinging on to faint division hopes, landed an early right hook, jumping out to an early 10-0 lead. The Texans dusted themselves off, to drop 24 unanswered points, on a Titans defense which stifled them Week 2. As a team, there was nothing the Texans could do wrong. The Texans could do little wrong Monday night, not only delivering a win for Bob but also distancing themselves in the division; as well as keeping the pressure on the Chiefs and Patriots atop the AFC.
What is on Tap?
The three-game home stretch will continue Sunday, against the 4-6-1 Cleveland Browns. While they have no real chance at the playoffs, in the past two weeks, the Browns are very much enjoying the role of spoiler, winning back to back games against Atlanta and Cincinnati putting a dent in their postseason hopes. Albeit the Texans aren't in any danger of missing the playoffs barring something dramatic, a loss would not only end Houston's win streak but would severely dent the Texans chance at one of the top two spots in the AFC.
The Texans need to come out, get off to a fast start, and keep Cleveland from believing they have a chance to snag one on the road. As long as Houston keeps doing what has got them to this point, most importantly take the Browns seriously. Given what is at stake, and being a home game, the only way Houston loses is if they are extremely sloppy, or if Houston suffers an injury at a key position.
Though on the Cleveland side of things, if the Browns were to halt Houston's streak, offensively they need Nick Chubb to have a monster day running the ball, easier said than done against the NFL's 7th best-run defense. Quarterback Baker Mayfield would need to negate the pass rush by getting the ball out quickly, most importantly as an offense. The Browns need to play disciplined and stay out the 3rd and long situations. Defensively lead by Myles Garrett, the Browns front seven would need to dominate the line of scrimmage, and force Deshaun Watson into turning the ball over. Realistically a lot has to go wrong for Houston, and a lot has to go right for the Browns to pull off the upset.
Following Cleveland, the streaking Colts make their way to wrap up the homestand. The Colts are primed for that 6th and a final playoff spot, behind a healthy Andrew Luck. Week 4's matchup between these two was an overtime shootout, what will be in store for Watson vs. Luck part two? One thing is for sure; the stakes will be much higher this time around than Week 4. If the Texans were to win out, along with a Colts loss to the Jaguars (not happening), and the Titans lose either this week to the Jets (did I see a pig fly), or the Jaguars the following week (seriously not likely), then the Texans could seal the AFC South against the Colts December 9th. Of course, nothing is that easy, but knowing the Colts, for now, are alive in the division, and battling the Ravens for the last playoff spot, the stakes will be high regardless.
On and off the field the Texans, have had a lot to handle, what has made me proud of this team is their resiliency and grit. Winning for Bob Monday night was special, but what would be the icing on the cake would be to see the Texans, ride this streak all the way to Atlanta; and hoist the Franchise's first Lombardi Trophy.