The Houston Texans had nowhere to go but up after a 3-13-1 end to the 2022 season. Another change at coach - the third in as many seasons - and two top-10 draft picks gave general manager Nick Caserio a blueprint for a turnaround. But no one could've expected that turnaround to come so quickly.
Houston has won six of eight games after starting the season 0-2, and some of those wins are against probable playoff teams. Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Cincinnati are all in the playoff hunt, and the Texans handled business against all of them.
And now, after 11 weeks of the season, the playoff picture become more clear for everyone, including Houston.
If the playoffs started today, the Texans would hold the No. 6 seed in the AFC, and Sports Illustrated painted the picture as to why.
No. 6: Houston Texans
Record: 6–4, second, AFC South
The feel-good story of the season is starting to become a force in the NFL. The Texans handled the Cardinals at home despite three C.J. Stroud picks, and are now two games over .500 for the first time since the 2019 season. The Texans host the Jaguars next Sunday looking for the season sweep, with the Broncos coming in after that.
The four AFC division winners make the playoffs and are seeded 1-4, then three Wild Card teams are added. The Texans are currently second in the AFC South, so they'd be a Wild Card team at this point, with the second-best record among the Wild Card teams.
But Houston is still in play for the division title, and that's the goal for every club.
Just one game stands between the 6-4 Texans and the Jaguars, who are 7-3, and the two meet in Houston on Sunday at NRG Stadium. The Texans have already notched a 37-17 road victory over Jacksonville back in Week 3, so a clean season sweep would go a long way to a division title.
It'll be a tough stretch to end the season, but so far, the Texans have shown they're not afraid of a challenge. And when faced with adversity, they've also shown they can shine.