The Houston Texans are 9-1 on the season and in first place, not only in the AFC South, but as the top seed in the AFC.
They rank eighth on offense, third on defense and seventh overall in DVOA.
Primary Talking Point for Week 12
Wait a minute...what just happened there? Did the Texans really almost lose to the Jaguars?
Oh well, never mind, it's time to play again!
The schedule set up nicely for Houston. Whether or not there's anything to worry about stemming from the terrible defensive performance they gave against the Jaguars is beside the point.
No one has time to dwell on the surprisingly difficult overtime win in Week 11, because they now have turn around and play on short rest in Detroit.
If the Texans show up and take care of business against the Lions, the Jaguars game will be shrugged off as "just one of those things".
If the Lions manage to hang 30 points on the Texans' D, the conversation next week will be very different.
Johnathan Joseph is slowed by a hamstring issue. Head Coach Gary Kubiak told reporters at his press conference:
He’s got a strain, but it’s a slight strain. It’s just how he reacts to it. He’s feeling pretty good today. We’ll see where he’s at tomorrow. But like I said, these three guys (ILB Tim Dobbins, CB Johnathan Joseph and WR DeVier Posey), it will go up, because it’s so quick and the work that we do is strictly more mental than it is physical, going into Thursday. So it’s probably going to be one of those where we work them out the morning of the game and make a decision.
Ben Tate is still out with a hamstring injury, but may play. Kubiak said,
I think he’s got a good chance. It’s really difficult for me to answer those questions this week. On a normal week, you’re physically practicing and so this will be one of those weeks where it will be hard to answer any of those questions until you get right up to the morning of the game. You work those guys and out and say he’s okay and good enough to go.
DeVier Posey and Tim Dobbins also missed practice on Monday.
Player on the Rise
Keshawn Martin has had a quiet rookie year receiving but has managed to make an impact on special teams.
After Trindon Holliday was released, Martin has done a fine job returning punts and kickoffs. He's averaging 24.8 yards per kick return and 15.3 yards a punt. His punt return average is fifth among players with at least two returns.
It can be hard for a young wideout to see the field in his rookie year, but Martin is proving his worth on special teams.
Feel-Good Stat of the Week
The Texans have allowed the fewest first downs in football.
When you boil defense down to its core, the object is to stop the other team from picking up the next first down. Turnovers are great, but if you can simply keep a team from getting those 10 yards, you've done your job.
No one stops the next 10 yards better than the Texans.
They allow the fewest yards per drive and have the best drive success rate in the game. That's the stat that measures what percentage of the time one first down leads to another first down or to points.
Fewer than three of every five first downs the Texans face are going to ultimately result in another first down.
That's the definition of shutdown defense.
Troubling Stat of the Week
Arian Foster is on pace for just shy of 400 carries on the year, and there's some evidence he may be wearing down.
Against a suspect Jaguars' run defense, he put up fewer than three yards a carry, and his season average now sits at just 3.8.
That's down more than a half-yard off his 2011 pace and more than one full yard off his 2010 average.
His advanced metrics are steady from last year; his success rate is actually up five percent.
His play is critical to the Texans' game play, so keep a close watch on signs of wear and tear.
Overall Trend: Steady
It's tempting to downgrade the Texans after a lackluster game against Buffalo, a sloppy but gritty win over the now suspect Bears and an unexpected thriller over the lowly Jags, but that's just not fair.
The NFL season is painfully long, and elite teams often have to survive the doldrums of November in order to play in January.
Houston isn't winning pretty, but they are winning, and unless they stumble in Detroit, they get the benefit of the doubt for another week.
All quotes courtesy of the Houston Texans PR department via press release.