- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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What I think they are thinking (or should be) in the headquarters of the four AFC South teams after Week 16…
We can’t undo those last two duds and while they killed momentum we’re still not in bad shape. Everyone’s going to write us off as one-and-done in the playoffs, and maybe that’s a better way for us to head into it than as a popular pick. We certainly have issues to iron out. Scoring is down 10 points per game since we lost quarterback Matt Schaub, which means the margin for error is down. The defense played poorly on Indianapolis’ game-winning drive, but before that it was fine. So we’ll maintain belief in our run game and defense and get Andre Johnson back — and we will be better than people expect going forward.
We’re not losing on purpose to ensure we get the No. 1 pick. Get that out of your head. Don’t allow oxygen to feed that flame anywhere. It’s utterly ridiculous. We’re professionals who are continuing to build resumes. If you think “lose-on-purpose” is the message trickling down from above, you’re nuts. If it was, and you think guys like Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, Antoine Bethea, Pat Angerer, Jeff Saturday, Reggie Wayne, and Dallas Clark would fall in line with it, you’re also nuts. We’ve got a chance to carry a three-game win streak into the offseason, and that’s what we intend to do.
Let’s put the garbage to rest. We won’t be losing intentionally to the Colts to create the possibility that they don’t get the first overall pick in the draft so as to keep Andrew Luck out of the division. We aren’t paid to factor in long-term potential personnel developments. We are paid to prepare as best we can and do all we can to win football games. That’s what we will spend our week thinking about. Our secondary is in shambles. Theirs is too. We need to protect Blaine Gabbert and let him make some throws. We can also get Maurice Jones-Drew the rushing title, something the entire franchise will take a great deal of pride in.
We can’t waste time or energy looking back on all the things we could have done to enhance our standing now. All we can do is go to Houston and beat the Texans, then hope we land in a three-way tie with Cincinnati and the Jets or Cincinnati and Oakland, because we’d win either of those to get the No. 6 seed in the AFC playoffs. We’ll enjoy Christmas anticipating a great week of work, a big result in our finale and a 9-7 record. And we will do all the wishing and praying possible for the other results that we need in order to get a return trip to Houston, which would be our wild-card round matchup.