Houston Texans fans have waited 10 seasons for a winner and finally it appears they are on the verge of having one.
A combination this weekend of a Texans win at Cincinnati and a loss by Tennessee to New Orleans would deliver the franchise’s first AFC South title and playoff berth. That possibility has the city in a fever that was obvious at Reliant Stadium during last Sunday’s 17-10 win over Atlanta.
“You can definitely feel the energy from the city, you can definitely feel the energy from the fans. It’s been great,” said Texans inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans. “This past Sunday was the best I’ve ever seen it in our stadium. Of course, we have finally given the fans something to cheer about. We’re playing good football and it’s exciting to watch.”
The Texans are 9-3 and are riding a six-game winning streak into Sunday’s road game against the Cincinnati Bengals. They can also win the division by winning two out of their final four games, which includes games against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers, a road game at Indianapolis and then the regular-season finale against Tennessee.
But the team preferred not to look too far down the road. The Texans were close two years ago but fell just short of the playoffs in the final week.
“There’s a lot of ‘ifs’ flying around,” said running back Arian Foster, the NFL’s rushing leader. “That doesn’t really matter. We’re just trying to beat Cincinnati. If anything else happens, that’s awesome but we’re just trying to get a win against Cincinnati.”
But that the Texans are even having the conversation with all the adversity they have had in head coach Gary Kubiak’s playoffs-or-bust season seems amazing. They’ve lost defensive standout Mario Williams for the season with a torn pectoral muscle; All-Pro receiver Andre Johnson has missed significant time with hamstring problems and they are playing with their third-string rookie quarterback T.J. Yates after losing both All-Pro Matt Schaub and backup Matt Leinart to season-ending injuries.
The fact Houston is where it is has some feeling that this may be a season of destiny.
“You get the sense this is something special,” Ryans said. “I had that feeling when we first started that this is going to be a special year for us. It’s definitely playing out in a special way.”
Contact Terrance Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Terranceharris
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