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Texans win AFC South with Jaguars' loss to Titans

CJ Stroud Texans CJ Stroud - The Canadian Press

HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Texans went from worst to first in just one season.

The Texans, who finished last in the AFC South last season, clinched the division title Sunday when Tennessee beat Jacksonville 28-20 to eliminate the Jaguars from playoff contention.

Houston (10-7) secured its first playoff trip since 2019 with a 23-19 victory at Indianapolis on Saturday night before becoming the division champion on Sunday. It’s the first time the Texans have won the division since 2019 and their seventh AFC South title.

The Texans are the fourth seed in the AFC and will host fifth-seeded Cleveland on Saturday.

The team’s social media accounts posted a picture of first-year coach DeMeco Ryans and several players with the caption: "This is just the beginning. Your AFC South Champions."

Ryans and star rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud orchestrated a remarkable turnaround to put the Texans back in the postseason. The Texans went 3-13-1 last season. Houston won just four games each in 2020 and 2021.

Stroud reposted the team’s post on Instagram and added the caption: "Letsss goooooo!!!!" and rookie defensive end Will Anderson Jr., taken third overall in the draft, also reposted it with the words "We didn’t come this far to come this far!!"

Stroud, the No. 2 pick in the draft, threw for 264 yards Saturday night to give him 4,108 yards passing this season. It’s the third-most yards passing by a rookie in NFL history, trailing only Andrew Luck (4,374 in 2012) and Justin Herbert (4,336 in 2020).

His strong performance was the biggest reason for the turnaround in Houston. Until drafting Stroud, the Texans had failed to find an answer at quarterback since Deshaun Watson refused to play after requesting a trade. Watson was dealt to Cleveland before last season.