Texans Excited About Their Opportunity

The Texans have been preparing for the most important game in franchise history. They must defeat New England at Reliant Stadium to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

"Everybody's focused," coach Gary Kubiak said. "We've had a good week of practice."

The Texans are trying to close the season with a four-game winning streak. If they do, they'll finish 9-7, giving the franchise its first winning record. They were 8-8 the last two seasons.

Kubiak's job isn't in jeopardy. There have been reports around the country that he needed to make the playoffs to return for the fifth year of his contract, but that was never true. Owner Bob McNair wasn't going to make a change.

Patriots' coach Bill Belichick, the embodiment of secrecy, hasn't disclosed if he'll play his starters, and if he does, how long they'll stay in the game. The Texans have been preparing as if Tom Brady and the other regulars will be in the lineup.

"Even they aren't, they don't change their schemes or their plays or their game plan," middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans said.

If the Texans win, they'll finish second in the AFC South behind Indianapolis, despite having a 1-5 division record and five consecutive defeats. It would be their highest finish. They could close 8-8 for a third year in a row and still finish second depending on what Tennessee and Jacksonville do in their last game.

The bottom line is that there's a buzz in Houston about the Texans for the first time this late in the season.

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