CODY STOOTS: 3 headlines, 2 questions, 1 bet

Return man and returning man stand out for Texans

With Lamar Miller running well, will it impact what happens to D'Onta Foreman? Tim Warner/Getty images

The Texans continue to add to the longest win streak in the NFL and have a chance to be the first AFC team to clinch a playoff spot on Sunday. Here are three headlines, two questions, and one bet about the Texans. 

"I think about today"

Bill O'Brien might be dodging the question and the thoughts about the Texans clinching the AFC South on Sunday, but we don't have to do the same. The Texans need some help to do it Sunday, the Titans would have to fall to the Jaguars on Thursday, but they might have the chance to celebrate at home. 

As with not taking the cheese and drinking the Kool-Aid last week, O'Brien was cautious this week when discussing anything more than the Colts on Sunday. 

"You really have to get some things corrected and you have to quickly turn the page to the next opponent," he said. "That’s the key. Whatever plays that you had yesterday that carry over to what this game might be, you have to learn from that and then you have to really turn your focus to Indianapolis."

The mentality of the Texans has been spot on during the majority of this win streak. Credit the players for believing in O'Brien and the message and credit the message for not changing. Tyrann Mathieu talked about how they looked at themselves after starting with three straight losses. The players deserve the credit and O'Brien will quickly tell you that. He deserves credit too though. The offense has been good enough to great during the stretch and they've handled various elements of adversity well. It's gone from a potential disaster to history-making in short order. 

First interception since return for Hal

Andre Hal hauled in a Baker Mayfield mistake for his first interception since his return to football after beating cancer. He made his season debut against the Jaguars earlier in the season but was sidelined with an injury until after the bye. He is significant depth and experience for a safety unit that already had some serious success under their belts. He also provides experience on special teams as well, O'Brien praised the work he has done on that side of the football. 

Hal wanted to make something very clear: he can get better. He is still working into the form he believes he can play at in 2018. He mentioned he missed training camp so he is still catching up but he wants to continue to make an impact on this team. He is a fantastic story for this season and it is scary to think what the defense could be should he continue to improve. Romeo Crennel has to relish having three safeties he can trust and interchange in Hal, Tyrann Mathieu, and Justin Reid. 

"The ball's been on the ground"

"He’s got to stop doing that because he has been a good addition to our team," O'Brien said about return specialist DeAndre Carter. "He’s given us some good plays in the couple of games that he’s been here."

The fumbles have been the one spot that wasn't bright for Carter in his short time as the Texans return man. He's had a couple of fumbles that luckily ended up back in the hands of the Texans and not in the grasp of opponents but outside of that all positive. He's much more dynamic than Tyler Ervin. He is averaging more yards per punt return and more yards per kick return than Ervin. His longest punt and kick returns of the season are both longer than Ervin's. In three games he has almost matched Ervin's total yardage output for the season. Ervin played in nine games. 

For a team that typically plays close games, Carter will be an important piece. He can't make poor decisions and leave the Texans with a huge field to cover and he can't keep fumbling the ball. What he can do though is provide a new and dangerous element the special teams previously lacked. 

Will Foreman play again this season?

This week the Texans need to decide to put D'Onta Foreman on the active roster or injured reserve. 

"We’re talking about that," said O'Brien. "I don’t know that that decision has been made. In fact, it hasn’t, but it’s definitely in the conversation."

He's been non-committal about Foreman's potential return. Last week the Texans running back said he was just waiting for the word he was ready to go. This is a much longer recovery time than typical for NFL players at the running back position. According to a study, Foreman should've been back roughly 340 days after surgery which has been discussed for almost a month now on SportsMap. That date would have been the Sunday after the Dolphins game. 

He is behind in some capacity, and, it's worth nothing performance after this type of injury was worse than before the injury for running backs. There has to be serious discussion to this being a lost season for him or he would be on the roster already. It wouldn't be shocking to see him hit IR this week. 

Will the Colts offensive line pull a Browns?

The Texans hit Baker Mayfield once. That's it. Now, there was pressure, and Mayfield made some bad plays because of it. The Browns no sacks allowed streak continued though and it is worth noting their streak supplanted the Colts streak. The Colts struggled early to keep Andrew Luck clean but he's been nearly untouched since the Colts got on track. They had a five-game stretch where they allowed zero sacks on their franchise quarterback. 

Sunday though, the Jaguars got to them. The Colts allowed three Jacksonville sacks and have allowed four in two games after the clean streak. The Texans will likely have to bring some heat on Luck. He stood in the pocket and picked them apart earlier this year in Indianapolis and that can't happen again. I would guess there is more than the Browns game as far as results of the pressure but they may not match the Jaguars total. It will be the key matchup of the game Sunday. 

I bet Andrew Luck lost comeback player of the year to J.J. Watt on Sunday. Both are coming off a lost season due to injury and both are back to their former glory. Luck is slinging the rock with the best of them and Watt is keeping pace in the pass rush race. Luck just put up a donut though. Quarterbacks have an inherent advantage in most awards so a big fat zero in the middle of Luck's resume should tip the scales to Watt.

Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

The Houston Texans are now 9-4. They're also still in control of their own destiny as far as the AFC South is concerned. Yet, people are acting like things have gone down the shitter. There are three games left in the season! They still have a shot at the number two seed in the AFC! WHY THE HELL ARE FANS PANICKING?!?

I get it. Fans aren't happy with the 24-21 loss to hated division rival Colts. They aren't happy the nine game win streak is over. And they have every right to be pissed the team blew a chance at the number two seed in the AFC given that the Patriots wet the bed against the Dolphins.

But what are fans going to do about it? Cry? Sulk? Raise holy hell on Twitter? Facebook? Instagram? Snap Crap (John Granato voice)? No dammit! Pull yourselves up by your boot straps! Wipe the sissy tears from your eyes and remember that you've been through worse!

This is the same/similar fan base that has gone through the six years of purgatory without a team to call their own due to Bud Adams' greed. Remember, you had to sit back and watch as that team left town, relocated in Nashville, kept your team history, records, colors, eventually changed names, and watched that crotchety old man make a mockery of the whole situation, especially when they made it to Super Bowl.

You're better than this Houston! Remember when Tracy Mc Grady scored 13 points in 33 seconds against the hated Spurs? Remember when Hakeem Olajuwon led the Rockets to back to back title runs when Michael Jordan was retired? (Yeah Houston. I went there and said it like that. Sue me!) Remember when the Astros lost 100 plus games every season and missing the playoffs? Remember when the Rockets couldn't make the playoffs and were mired in mediocrity? Remember when the Dynamo were a flash in the pan and went back to relative anonymity?

This Texans team may have its flaws, but it's not without its lovable spots. Sure, Bill O'Brien may be an A hole of a coach and Deshaun Watson may be a brain fart away from losing a close game for this team, but there's more to be happy about.

When things looked bleak at 0-3, the Texans went on a nine game win streak that put them firmly in control of the division and a playoff berth. They take one loss and now some of you so-called "fans" are in full-blown panic mode! CALM DOWN! Remember what you've been through and the resiliency you've built up over the years!

You've endured the Bills debacle, no team for six years, David Carr, and Matt Schaub! This is like telling people without kids to become parent of the year nominees. You are totally forgetting who you are, what you have been through, and how tough it can be being a Texan fan. I find it funny that the same fans that say this is their team are the same ones that go into full-blown panic mode at the first hint of trouble. Relax guys. After all, you could be a Browns fan.

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