It was not the prettiest of afternoons for the Texans.
Outside of the thrashing Houston gave Miami in Week 8, and the beatdown in Jacksonville, all of Houston's wins have been by one score. Nonetheless, thanks to a missed 51-yard field goal from Brandon McManus, Houston notches their sixth straight win improving to 6-3 heading into their bye. With the win, the Texans not only seized full control of the AFC South but are also very much in distance of nabbing one of the top 2 seeds in the AFC.
Offensively the Texans got again another good game in pass protection, from their offensive line. Quarterback Deshaun Watson was hit only four times, all four quarterback hits were sacks*. The pass
protection has steadily improved, though against what was the 27th ranked run defense, Houston struggled to run the ball effectively. Lamar Miller after exploding the past two games with 100 yards in each contest, only mustered 21 yards on 12 carries*. Alfred Blue was a little more effective with 15 carries and 39 yards, even Watson who did not have any designed run plays delivered 38 yards on six carries.*
Houston's defense was effective against the run as they have been much of the season, limiting the Broncos to just 75 yards on the ground. Broncos quarterback Case Keenum did everything he could to stick it to his former team, he made quick reads and getting rid of the ball quickly which helped negates Houston's defensive front from fully wrecking the game.
Close games can go either way if Sutton catches Keenum's perfectly thrown ball in the end zone in the first quarter we could be sitting here discussing an entirely different result. Then there is the usual reliable McManus having the worst game of the season going 1/3, including missing a 51-yard attempt to win the game Honestly when McManus walked on to the field, I thought the streak was coming to an end. After all, he has been one of the best kickers in the game, but you know the Texans are rolling when one of the best kickers misses a kick well within his range. Though it is worth noting McManus following the loss to the Texans, is now 2/5 kicking the ball in his last two games.*
The Texans enter their bye playing good football, but with plenty of room to grow. Offensively the Texans need the offensive line to continue to improve to keep Watson clean but also be more consistent in the run game. The bye will certainly aid Watson and Thomas further develop their chemistry so that they can be on the same page. Following the bye, Houston could see two key players return from injury when they take on Washington. Wide receiver KeKe Coutee who has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury, and second-year running back D'Onta Foreman can start practicing following the bye. Whether Foreman suits up against Washington remains to be determined, but having both Coutee and Foreman return would be an added boost to Houston's offensive attack.
The playoffs are very much a reality for the Texans. The question now is, can Houston take it another level and win the city's first ever Super Bowl?
*=all stats and rankings sourced by ESPN