A different kind of "must-win" situation

We hear the phrase "must win" in nearly every game.

Each week, some team is facing a crucial game, leaving people to slap on the "must win" label to add flavor and excitement. For some, the phrase is overused. Heck, in the NFL, it seems every game for every team is a must win.

But calling the phrase overused isn't exactly correct. Rather, the stigma itself has become too big an umbrella over the games. A game could be a "must win" due to a need to move up in the standings. It could be a "must-win" for a certain player to get back to his winning ways. Or, for the less proven teams, a game could be a "must-win," not because of their place in the standings or a need to boost confidence of a certain player, but simply because that team hasn't proved itself yet and if it's to be taken seriously it, well, must win.

The latter caveat belongs to the Texans this Sunday. At 3-2, a loss to the Ravens doesn't mean the end to their postseason chances, or even a downward spiral for the next month. In fact, even if Houston is run out of Baltimore, it's still the odds on favorite to win the AFC South, assuming its collection of injured players returns to form before too long.

Yet if the Texans, who are still searching for their first-ever playoff appearance, are going to be viewed as legitimate contenders in the AFC, this week is a "must-win."

Aside from a win against Pittsburgh, Houston has pretty much beaten who it's supposed to have beaten and lost to teams it wasn't supposed to beat. A win Sunday, in Baltimore, would change all of that.

The Texans are hurting on both sides of the ball, they're on the road in a hostile environment and a loss, while not crushing, would drop them to second in the AFC South behind the Titans.

As John McClain from the Houston Chronicle reports, a win against the Ravens would give the Texans the stink of legitimacy, an aroma that's been lacking in Houston for far too long.