Plenty of decisions to make for the Texans, maybe even one including J.J. Watt

Texans are AFC South champs despite ugly win. Now what to do for Week 17?

3 Headlines, 2 Questions, and 1 Bet ahead of the Texans regular season finale.

Winning ugly is better than losing pretty

The Texans won. Yes, it was ugly. Yes, it was a little disappointing. Yes, they probably should have blown out the Buccaneers.

A win is a win, even when it clinches the AFC South.

The Texans are AFC South champs for four of the past five seasons, and now four of the six and as my above tweet indicates, that's not bad.

Week 17 doesn't really matter for the Texans. They need to be ready for the 4-5 matchup and likely the Buffalo Bills.

The frustration is the same issues from games of the past popped up. Consistency on offense is seemingly dead. The in-game management is often times questionable, but has worked out a few times for Bill O'Brien. The defense is leaky. It doesn't feel championship quality. Well, it is AFC South champion quality. But there has to be more to the 2019 season than another banner.

Will Fuller's injury lingers yet again

Will Fuller is one of the most important players on this Texans team. He is also one of the most injured players. Fuller hasn't come close to playing a full season in his NFL career since his rookie year. This year soft tissue injuries have ruined his season. Yet again, he's hurt.

The team is so much better with him on the field. Everything is better. Specifically the passing game. That's a problem though. This offense shouldn't be built on success based off a speedy outside wide receiver being available. Bill O'Brien has to use the weapons he has better and so does Deshaun Watson. It is unacceptable for this offense to be so heavily reliant on Fuller's availability.

O'Brien's comments after the game were clear and this is as close to negative he comes at the podium about a player.

"He is a great guy and I love coaching him, but it is hard for him to stay healthy – that's the bottom line. Hopefully we can help him stay healthy because this team is a very good team when we have him in the lineup."

Trying to win games

The Texans will take the field Sunday knowing exactly what spot in the playoffs they are locked into. The Chiefs play in the early game and if they win, they will be locked into the third seed pushing the Texans to the fourth seed.

It is incredible to ask the Texans to prepare for a relaxed game, see the Chiefs accidentally lose, and then try to gear back up for the game and try to get the third seed.

So you either try to win the game that likely doesn't matter or you relax for a week. In a game that doesn't matter, Deshaun Watson and Laremy Tunsil shouldn't play. Neither should DeAndre Hopkins. The numbers game gets funny, but the Texans could manage it.

Health ahead of the Bills should be the the most important thing for week 17.

Angelo Blockson...am I right?

​Texans defensive lineman Angelo Blackson has blocked a field goal in back to back weeks. The Texans have won both of those games by three points. You do the math.

The thing that has impressed me about both the blocks is Blackson's ability to find himself in the kicking lane. He's adjusted one of his big paws to be in the trajectory of what the kicker needs to make the field goal. Obviously he has to get that hand free too.

A few colleagues of mine, as well as myself, wondered why Blackson was given the contract he was in the offseason. He has played well and frankly those two blocks have been worth the price of his deal. Bill O'Brien called him a fabric player and it is hard to disagree considering his performance this year.

Can Watt come back? I ask again, can Watt come back

Bill O'Brien didn't feel like talking about J.J. Watt much today. Makes sense. The more mystery, the better. Make the Bills start thinking about Watt. About having to block him with their inexperienced right side of their line. Ultimately the subterfuge might not matter.

Brian Gaine worked here. He hired plenty of people in this building. He now works for the Bills. Gaine will know exactly how well Watt is when the game rolls around.

If Watt can help, he should play. If he can be re-injured seriously it should be up to Watt if he wants to play. You certainly wouldn't want to pass up the chance Watt could come back. There could be something this week with perhaps the activation of his 21-day window to practice.

I bet the Bills are licking their chops to face the Texans

The Bills can absolutely beat the Texans and likely should be favored when the two teams square off in the first weekend of January.

Buffalo brings a terrorizing defense that should smother a Texans passing attack which will be missing Will Fuller. Their offense is suspect, sure, but Josh Allen can exploit the Texans with the deep ball and the rushing attack can do enough. They have run the ball well too.

It is imperative for the Texans fan base's sanity for Houston to win this game. People will again question the whole operation with a loss, but a win would be a step in the right direction. It is the bare minimum for the Texans this year for the season to be considered even remotely a success.

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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