The Texans may still end Week 16 with the AFC South title, but they don’t have it in their back pocket just yet.
Houston routed the Titans 34-6 in Tennessee on Sunday afternoon, but the Colts’ win over the Dolphins means that they will need the Bengals to win on Monday night against the Broncos. Thanks to the Jets’ overtime win over the Patriots, a Bengals win means the Texans would own the strength of victory tiebreaker over the Colts regardless of what happens in Week 17.
If the Bengals don’t win, the Texans can wrap things up by beating the Jaguars next Sunday and this week’s win should give them some confidence that they can get it with Brandon Weeden in the lineup.
Weeden started slowly, but his play picked up over time and he finished the game 15-of-24 for 200 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a touchdown to lead his team to a win as a starter for the first time since he was with the Browns in the 2012 season.
DeAndre Hopkins had a field day against the Titans. Again.
The Pro Bowl wide receiver finished with seven catches for 117 yards and a score, as the Texans walloped Tennessee by a 34-6 margin.
Hopkins pulled in a 15-yard touchdown pass with 11:33 left in the third quarter, and it gave the Texans a 24-0 advantage. He was happy Brandon Weedon gave him a chance.
“My quarterback trusted me,” Hopkins said of the score.
It was the 11th touchdown of the season for Hopkins. He set a franchise record earlier in 2015 when he caught his 10th score in a season. On the year, the former Clemson Tiger has 1,432 receiving yards, which is now a career-best for him. He’s done it in a season when six different Texans have thrown a pass, and he’s been the center of attention for opposing secondaries.
“At times it’s probably been frustrating for him because they have double-teamed him,” head coach Bill O’Brien said. “Different teams have tried to take him out of the games. He just keeps grinding. He works really hard. He’s one of our hardest working players.”
Hopkins also eclipsed the 100-catch barrier in a season, when he pulled in his third reception of the day. He and Andre Johnson, who did it multiple times, are the only Texans to ever tally 100 or more catches in a year. For Weeden, having a target like Hopkins is a huge asset. It also doesn’t hurt that Hopkins is a calm presence as well.
“He has a great demeanor about him,” Weeden said. “He doesn’t come over to the sidelines hootin’ and hollerin’ and going crazy, telling me to throw him the ball. He’s just really patient. Guys like that you got a tremendous amount of respect for. I told him ‘I’d be stupid not to throw it to you’, so I’m going to throw him the football.”
Hopkins was quick to give Weeden compliments as well, saying that creating chemistry has been easy with the Texans’ signal-caller.
“I think it was easy because he’s a smart guy, he has a very high football IQ,” Hopkins said.
In his career against Tennessee, Hopkins has 40 receptions for 696 yards and five touchdowns. He’s played against the Titans six times.