<
>

Key for Texans: Divisional play

Richard Justice and Jerome Solomon debate the Houston Texans' biggest issues in this video.

Justice says backup quarterback. Solomon says fourth quarters.

I say division play.

The franchise's all-time record in the division: 13-35. Last season: 1-5.

To go 1-5 in the division and still manage a 9-7 record in 2009 was both impressive and baffling. It’s a problem that needs to be solved for the Texans to make the jump to the playoffs. Constant losses to a team's most familiar opponents is bad for the psyche. It can also be crushing in playoff tie-breakers where division or conference record factor in.

“I think our football team is built to compete with everybody in our division,” Houston general manager Rick Smith said. “It’s just a matter of taking advantage of the opportunities when you get them. When you look at all those football games [last year], we had an opportunity to win them all, but we didn’t …

“We’ve got to capitalize on the opportunities when we get them and turn those opportunities into victories.”

Here’s a breakdown of the five losses, which came by an average of 5.2 points in which they had a chance to tie or take a lead late three times:

According to Keith Hawkins of ESPN Stats & Info since realignment in 2002 no team has gone 1-5 in its division games and made the playoffs.

Only two have gone 1-5 in their division and not finished with a losing record: The 8-8 Texans of 2007 and the 9-7 Texans of 2009.

“You know you’re playing good football, you just need to get over the hump in your division,” Schaub said. “And we do play in a tough division. At the same time, every single one of those games [last year] we were in the fourth quarter we either had a lead or were within one score or taking a lead and we got down in the red zone and hurt ourselves. As a team we just have to be more consistent.”

If the Texans don’t win more than a game in the AFC South in 2010, history says they won’t make their first playoff trip.

Since 1970 in non-strike seasons, the only team to win no divisional games or one divisional game and still finish with a winning record and make the playoffs was the 1989 Steelers (9-7 overall, 1-5 in the AFC Central).