Much to everyone's (OK, me) surprise, the Houston Texans beat the New York Jets 24-17 on Sunday and looked (fairly) comfortable doing it.
1. It's time to give O'Brien some credit for getting QB's ready. It's easy to criticize, harder to praise. However, given the play of TJ Yates over the last couple of weeks it's fair to say that Coach O'Brien and the offensive staff have done a good job preparing him to play since bringing Yates back to the team.
Not that the offense has been spectacular, but it's been good enough against two opponents that many consider to be in playoff contention.
2. Running the ball is a pipe dream. It doesn't appear that the Texans will be able to do so with any sustained success for the remainder of the year.
That said, Jonathan Grimes is looking much better than Alfred Blue. It may be time to give the former a start or three.
3. DeAndre Hopkins has gotten much better at route running. He's always had good hands but, my one criticism of him was that he ran poor routes. Over the last few weeks he's been much improved in this area and seems to be on the cusp of superstardom.
4. The defense is..... Well, it just is. Two young players in particular, Benardrick McKinney and Kevin Johnson, have been playing very well. This is important because we're starting to see decent, although not as great as everyone is saying, play from Cushing and JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus continue to have standout seasons.
Even Jonathan Joseph is playing better of late.
They're STILL not tied for "first place" The Texans are, like it or not, in 2nd place due to the tie-breaker process in the NFL. From a W/L perspective yes, they are tied with the Colts, but they would miss out on the playoffs (as things stand now) due to tiebreaking procedures.
That said, given the awful records of many AFC teams, there are only five teams in the AFC with a better record than Houston. This could mean that (amazingly) a Wild Card berth is in play. This would make the next two games, against the Saints and the Bills, must-wins. Of course, then you get the Patriots and the Colts before finishing with the Titans and a Jaguars team who might still have something to play for.
The team is 5-5, I still say that 7-9 or 8-8 are the most likely records. (With a strong nod to my pre-season prediction of 6-10 being within the realm of probability.)