What I think they're thinking
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
What I think they're thinking in the four headquarters of AFC South teams this morning...
How bout them Texans? Our first four-game winning streak arrived thanks to a very significant win. We've been bad in division play, and to beat the top dog gives us a whole new level of confidence.
Out of the playoff picture, we still have plenty to play for. One more win assures us of a second .500 season in a row, two more and we've got our first winning campaign.
One popular line of thinking about us is that we can be pretty good when there isn't a lot at stake, but back when we had a chance to win games that could have made us contenders, we weren't able to. We can't worry about that. Like right tackle Eric Winston said after the Titans win, we've got to be thinking of this as part of next year already.
Remember back around Week 9, when Tony Dungy talked calmly about how all we needed to do was get on a streak? There are no better streakers in the NFL, and our current seven-game run is three games better than anybody else's.
We won't have a playoff bye, but we can clinch our spot on Thursday night in Jacksonville, and then enjoy a mini-bye before our season finale against Tennessee at Lucas Oil Stadium.
It would be good if we could establish some run-game rhythm in this game, because that's one element of things that's doesn't feel playoff caliber right now.
So that's what winning feels like. It's been a while. It's nice to get to feel that again.
Perception is, even with a win over sinking Green Bay, that we are in the tank. Indianapolis is coming to town for a playoff coronation. Can we get fired up to play spoiler and make them have to wait longer?
We're on NFL Network at home and we've impressed no one in a prime time game et this season, losing on a Sunday night at Pittsburgh and a Monday night at Houston. This probably goes a long way toward determining what people think of us in the offseason.
No, we didn't get the result we wanted and Houston showed what can happen to us on a bad day -- we don't run well-enough, Kerry Collins is inaccurate and we can't get to the end zone.
But remember this: Pittsburgh's win in Baltimore Sunday meant we couldn't have wrapped anything up with a win in Houston, so we're still in the same situation this week we were last week. We need to win to clinch the No. 1 seed.
The Steelers will be our toughest test. We know a lot of people think we've played a light schedule and will struggle against another power. That will be a theme this week and we're confident we can prove those people wrong.