The Houston Texans are getting ready to take on their biggest foe yet of the 2023 season; themselves. The upstart Houston squad has got to overcome a lot of upheaval that has recently surrounded the team. Injuries, poor coaching decisions, and underwhelming outings have marred the last three games, where the Texans have gone 1-2 and have twice missed their chance to take control of the division.
Now the Texans have to overcome quite a bit, including injuries that are still hampering the team, and somehow find a second way to beat the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. A loss here would all but make the playoffs a near-impossible venture for the Texans, who several weeks ago looked like a lock to make the postseason.
If the Texans can't beat the Titans, which doesn't seem like the most likely outcome, thanks to the return of C.J. Stroud, then the Texans will fall to 8-8 on the season, a once far cry from where they were were nearly a month ago. And if they do fall, and lose their footing in the playoffs, we are forced to ask; would this season have been a bust?
It may seem like the answer is no, after all the team did a lot of great things this year with a rookie head coach, a rookie quarterback, no offensive line, no safeties to really account for, and just a singular linebacker worth his salt. An 8-9 or even 9-8 record wouldn't be seen as a bad thing knowing that this team wasn't supposed to be this good.
Except, it will be. If the Texans came on strong and won six of their last nine to improve to 8-9 or 9-8, sure. Then a losing record and no playoff appearance wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. But should they lose to the Titans today, go 1-3 in their last four, and miss not only the playoffs but the AFC South, then yes, this would be a bust of a season.
It'd be one thing if this team started off bad and got good, it's another thing for this squad to get good by the mid-way point and then fall apart due to a lack of healthy players and consistency from its squad and coaches. A single win, any number of times this year, would've given them the AFC South, and they again have that chance on Sunday to take control of their own destiny. Failing to make the playoffs after the year they had would in fact be a monumental collapse.
You don't get to claim a morale victory when you're so close to the finish line and you just gas out.