Will the next man up perform well in the Texans' playoff push?

Can the Texans clinch the playoffs without C.J Stroud?
Houston Texans v New York Jets
Houston Texans v New York Jets / Kathryn Riley/GettyImages

The Houston Texans are in a difficult situation after an embarrassing loss in Week 14. An impressive start to the campaign led fans to believe their team was guaranteed a post-season berth. DeMeco Ryans' group appeared focused and continued to upstage opponents on their schedule. Mistakes against the New York Jets derailed momentum right before an important stretch of games.

C.J. Stroud entered the NFL's concussion protocol, leaving the Texans' playoff odds in limbo.

Can the Houston Texans overcome injuries to extend the season?

A slow start against a talented defense foreshadowed a bleak afternoon for Bobby Slowik. His offense lacked enthusiasm without thier X-Factor receiver. Tank Dell's leg fracture forced Houston to rely on other playmakers. Nico Collins did his best to jump-start the offense before leaving the game in the first quarter with a calf injury. Completing pass downfield was an issue. It resulted in eight punts. Stroud connected with eight different receivers for only 91 yards. He finished with his lowest offensive grade (42.9) of the season.

Difficulties moving the football put the Texans further behind as the game continued. Zach Wilson took advantage of an exhausted defense. It resulted in two touchdowns and 30 second-half points. Houston failed to respond and trailed until the clock hit zero.

C.J Stroud's injury status will determine Houston Texans' future

Collateral damage was the worst part of Week 14. C.J. Stroud left the game in the fourth quarter after he received a hit from Quinnen Williams. He entered the league's concussion protocol Monday morning and could miss a few games. Without C.J. Stroud, Tank Dell, and Nico Collins how will Bobby Slowik's offense survive a vicious playoff hunt? There are four games left in the season and little room for error.

Anything can happen in the NFL. The Texans are still alive in the playoff hunt but will need the next man up to perform well. The outcome of exhibitions against the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts will weigh heavy in standings. DeMeco Ryans' unit must win out to extend the season. Davis Mills replaced Stroud in the remaining minutes of Sunday's exhibition. He completed one pass for four yards and earned a 55.7 offensive grade. Pressure in the pocket hindered the quarterback's progress. Houston's offensive line allowed eight sacks to a determined Jets front seven.

We expect the Houston Texans to devise a scheme to help them finish strong. They've worked hard to establish themselves as a playoff contender and must execute to keep their dream alive.

All statistics courtesy of pff.com