After a decisive playoff victory over the Browns, Texans prepare to face off against the Ravens

“No one could have expected this type of turnaround,” says Houston Chronicle reporter Jonathan Alexander.

By Sean Saldana January 19, 2024 9:00 am, ,

The NFL postseason kicked off last week – and the two teams representing Texas had very different games.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott threw two interceptions against the Green Bay Packers in a 48-32 loss that knocked America’s Team out of the playoffs.

Meanwhile, led by rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud, the Houston Texans sailed past the Cleveland Browns in a 45-14 win. They face off against the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday.

Jonathan Alexander, a staff writer for the Houston Chronicle covering the Houston Texans and NFL, joined the Texas Standard to talk about what happened to the Cowboys and what to expect from the Texans.

This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity:

Texas Standard: I know there are a lot of fans who just don’t want to revisit the Cowboys’ loss to the Packers. I think a lot of folks saw this as quite a surprise, since the Cowboys had a good season and were heavily favored to win the game. What happened?

Yeah, I think you saw the Packers really exploit the Cowboys’ defense. The Cowboys have been dealing with some injuries to their defense and have had some games where they’ve been exposed at times. If the Cowboys are going to lose, it’s because their defense let them down.

And the offense wasn’t on top of their game, either. Dak Prescott didn’t look in sync with his wide receivers early on. He wasn’t connecting with CeeDee Lamb. And it just came to be another Cowboys loss. And they just can’t seem to get over the hump.

Let’s move on to a bright spot, for Texas football, at least: The Texans out of Houston blowing out the Browns. Quarterback C.J. Stroud had three touchdowns. How do things feel in Houston at the moment?

There’s a lot of hope. This franchise had gone through three consecutive losing seasons, and there was no hope among the fan base; they started to protest by not showing up in games.

And you get C.J. Stroud and DeMeco Ryans as a head coach, and everything is kind of turned around. And, you know, no one could have expected this type of turnaround. The way C.J. Stroud is playing, a lot of people have compared his rookie season to Dan Marino. He’s been that good.

And when you have a player who’s that good who instills a belief in the rest of his players, along with the coach who does the same thing, that’s what has come to be: The Texans are one of the hottest teams in football right now.

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On Saturday, the Texans take on the Baltimore Ravens, one of the best teams in the league. What does this mean for the Texans going into Saturday? 

This is definitely the best team that the Texans will play. They played them week one, but both teams were much different teams still trying to figure out who they were.

But make no mistake, it’s going to be a tough battle, because the Texans are great on offense and defense, have allowed the fewest points per game of any team in the NFL, and scored the third most points per game behind Lamar Jackson, who again is having an MVP-caliber season.

The Texans are the No. 4 seed, lowest remaining seed in the conference. And the winner of Saturday’s game will play either Kansas City or Buffalo for a trip to the Super Bowl. How do you see this playing out, if you had to pick winners here?

I think the way Buffalo’s playing – aside from the Texans, they might be the other hottest team in the NFL. They’ve won I think their last six games, won the division by beating the Dolphins. And then they come and beat the Steelers.

And then here’s the X factor with the Chiefs and Bills game: This game is going to be played in Buffalo, so Buffalo’s going to have the home field advantage. They have Josh Allen, who is another MVP candidate.

I think the Chiefs are struggling with their wide receivers at this point, even though they have Patrick Mahomes, arguably the greatest quarterback of all time. They struggled with weapons this season. So I think the Bills have the advantage.

Do you think it’s possible that this will be the year the Texans will go all the way?

I wouldn’t put it past them. I do think that the Ravens are a better team overall, but the Texans have surprised me time and time again. I did not expect them to beat the Browns 45-14; I thought they were going to win, but I didn’t expect them to beat them.

So if all goes in their favor, if they’re playing their best game and C.J. Stroud continues to be hot and focused and the defense is still playing well, then I think that they can go. And if they go, if they beat the Ravens, I think that boosts their chances even more. They’re playing with confidence right now.

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