One of the worst things for an NFL team to deal with is having an elite quarterback in the division. Typically, the quarterback is surrounded by a really good team and they become a really challenging obstacle to overcome. Not only does a team have to play them twice a year, but you have to worry about finishing with a better overall record to win the division. Again, that makes life in the NFL even harder than it already is— just ask the teams in the AFC West.
It seems like this is a challenge the Indianapolis Colts will soon have to deal with in the AFC South. On Sunday, Houston Texans rookie quarterback CJ Stroud officially announced himself as a problem for the NFL. Stroud has been impressive all season but he took things to another level on Sunday.
CJ Stroud puts the NFL on notice with impressive Week 9 performance
The Texans had a thrilling battle with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Stroud led Houston to a victory with the poise of an established veteran. Baker Mayfield put the Bucs up 37-33 with just 46 seconds left in the game. However, Stroud didn’t blink. He took his team 75 yards down the field in 40 seconds and six plays, ending the drive with a 15-yard touchdown pass to fellow rookie Tank Dell. The score won Houston the game 39-37 and the Texans moved to 4-4.
In the game, Stroud completed 30-of-42 passes for 470 yards, a rookie record, and five touchdowns. He seemingly did everything right all game, delivering perfect pass after perfect pass. On the season, he’s now up to 2,270 yards, 14 touchdowns, and just one interception. With the win on Sunday, Houston has already surpassed its three-game win total from a year ago.
Obviously, this is just the start. If things continue to trend in the right direction for Stroud and the Texans, they could become a powerhouse in the AFC South. The Colts already know what that’s like. During Deshaun Watson’s time in Houston, when he and JJ Watt were running things, Houston dominated the AFC South. The Texans are hoping for similar success with Stroud and Will Anderson Jr. as their cornerstones.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are also set up nicely with Trevor Lawrence, and the Tennessee Titans may have found their guy with Will Levis, after an impressive start to his career. The good news for the Colts is that they have their own young exciting quarterback. When Anthony Richardson was healthy and on the field, he was also putting the league on notice. So, Indianapolis is definitely equipped to battle in what could be a fun AFC South.