MORAL VICTORY WILL BE STEP BACK
To progress as they would like, Texans have to follow up their rout of Titans with an upset of the unbeaten Chiefs
It’s easy to be high on the Texans after last week. Fifty-seven points. Broken records. Clear improvement. Good football. As well as things went in their 57-14 victory over the Tennessee Titans last Sunday at NRG Stadium, it doesn’t matter.
Not when 4-0 Kansas City comes here for “Sunday Night Football.”
The Texans have looked better each week.
Rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson is settling in.
The defense is returning to last season’s form.
The offense is better than any the Texans have had in years.
But a loss Sunday would drop them to 2-3.
Those 57 points … none of them carry over to this week.
Sunday night’s game is a big opportunity. There’s reason for optimism. Last week’s win was the most complete the Texans have looked.
From start to finish, they were cohesive. They put together solid drives, made timely stops and forced turnovers.
After the game, the Texans were happy with what they had done, pleased with their performances, excited about the victory.
By Monday morning, it was behind them. As it should have been. “I mean, we’re 2-2,” J.J. Watt said. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. It’s not like we’re the ones that are 4-0, so we’ve got to be a little bit tempered with that.”
As encouraging as the dominant victory was last week, a victory by any margin Sunday would be more impressive. Dynamic on offense
The Chiefs are the only undefeated team in the NFL. They’re No. 2 in the league in total offense, averaging 405.2 yards per game. They’re No. 1 in rushing yards with an average of 163.5 yards per game.
When going up against an offense that explosive, the Texans have to bring their best defense. The way they played last week was a start.
The defense was rested against Tennessee because the offense was on the field so much.
The defense will have to be strong early to hold off the Chiefs. Kansas City will try to establish the run early, which the Chiefs have been extremely efficient in doing. They have lost just one fumble this season.
“They’re not jumping off, they’re not making a lot of penalties and they’re not turning the ball over,” Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vraebel said of the Chiefs. “That’s a good recipe for success in this league.”
The defense needs to limit the Chiefs’ offense; the Texans need to continue improving offensively.
Since the start of the season, the Texans have looked better on offense each game.
After a rough start in Week 1, they found some footing in Week 2 against the Bengals in a 13-9 win. Watson improving
By Week 3, Watson was much more comfortable. He started showing off his unique skill set more, moving in the pocket, eluding tackles, making decisions on the fly.
The offensive line has improved more than any part of the team since the first week.
By Week 3, its pass protection was much better and the young quarterback had time to react on several plays.
The result: Watson gained confidence on every snap. In turn, he found more receivers, worked out of tough situations and became tougher for opposing defenses to figure out.
Last week, the offense took it a step further.
In addition to what it had accomplished against the Patriots despite a 36-33 loss in Week 3, the Texans put together their best rushing performance of the season against the Titans, gaining 175 yards. Still, if they are beaten Sunday, they’ll have a losing record. Titans game a benchmark
When it’s all said and done, improvement counts for nothing if it doesn’t come with victories.
They have 12 games left this season, a long way to go if they want to make a jump this year.
Last week gave a taste of what these Texans can accomplish.
It will be forgotten in an instant if the Texans can’t follow up with a win over Kansas City.
A strong performance, a close call, a moral victory won’t be enough. The Texans need to win. They scored 57 points last week. They start with zero Sunday night against a team that averages more than 30 points per game.
If the Texans truly want to prove they can be a top-tier team, they’ll need to put on a good show that ends with a W.