Did you already forget?
You might have. Saturday was a lifetime ago. If you did, the Texans scored 6 points on their own and 17 off Tampa Bay turnovers to beat the Buccaneers 23-20. By scoring more points than the Bucs, the Texans clinched the AFC South and turned the thing we’ve always wished for, a Week 17 AFC South Championship Game, from dreams into dust.
Sitting on the #4 seed and with the AFC South all sewn up, do the Texans have anything to play for this weekend?
4. Houston Texans (10-5) - y
For all the criticism they’ve received for recent trades and their use of quarterback Deshaun Watson, the Texans are AFC South champions for the fourth time in five seasons. The only question now is where they’ll be seeded in the AFC bracket. They can move up to No. 3 if they beat the Titans in Week 17 and the Chiefs lose to the Chargers, thanks to a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Chiefs.
Houston plays the Titans at 3:25 p.m. on Sunday and the Chiefs play the Chargers at 12:00 p.m. The Texans will immediately know if they have anything to play for on Sunday. Let’s say the Chiefs do lose. A Houston win would knock the Titans out of the NFL Playoffs, give the Texans a matchup against the Steelers in the Wild Card Round, and set up a potential Divisional Round match-up against the Patriots in New England instead of the Ravens in Baltimore.
All that being said, Houston should expect to remain where they’re at. There’s a minuscule chance the spicy Chiefs will lose to the empty Chargers. Houston should expect Sunday to not matter. They should be prepared to rest their starters against the Titans. They should probably already focus on the Buffalo Bills. The only thing preventing them to doing that will probably be bragging rights and spiking Mike Vrabel’s mustache into the offseason.
Bill O’Brien has said otherwise. He said something along the lines of you play to win every game you play. With Deshaun Watson and Laremy Tunsil banged up, Will Fuller’s groin iced down, and DeAndre Hopkins sick, they should be ready to do the opposite of playing to win this game, at least as it pertains to playing starters.
We really won’t know until the Chiefs game finishes on Sunday, though. In the meantime, expect for this game to not matter, for the Texans to rest their starters, and for Josh Allen to be on a southbound train towards NRG Stadium next weekend.