I am a diehard Texans fan. I’ve never been to Houston (I’m from NJ/PA), and my parents are Jets fans, but a long time ago when I first started following the game I decided I wanted to pick a different team than everyone else. The Texans were only a few years into their existence at the time, so I chose them on the basis that I’d be able to watch their history unfold from the very beginning. I’ve been at it for over a decade, there’s no turning back now.
So, I’ve come to explain to everyone why a Texans Super Bowl victory is well within the realm of possibility (if not this year, than over the course of the next couple of years). Let’s start with a nice rosy, positive framing of everything. 3rd year head coach Bill O’Brien has yet to coach a losing, or even .500 team so far. His first season they missed the playoffs, his second season they suffered an ugly loss in the playoffs, and his third season (RIGHT NOW!) they beat the Raiders in a lopsider. The Texans are AFC South Championships for a second consecutive year. Yesterday he advanced as far into the postseason as any Texans coach ever has. In the 12 seasons prior to the hiring of Billy O, the Texans lost each of their perennial away games against their division rival Colt. 0-12. Last season the Texans won at Indy for the first time in franchise history (took long enough), and this season they swept the Colts (2-0) making history once again. Also, despite having lost 3 time Defensive Player of the Year JJ Watt to a back injury Week 3, the Texans still managed to finish as the #1 ranked defense in terms of yardage allowed. OB calls the NFL “an improvement league” meaning that each season is a competition to see who can improve the most by the end, and if you really watch the Texans closely you can see that everyone (right down to the 53rd player) is trending upwards. He’s also described the postseason as “a new season”. Everyone gets a clean slate, and anything can happen.
Despite all that good stuff, the media has somehow managed to paint the Texans as a hilarious dumpster fire whose relevance was merely a product of the NFL’s easiest division. I could go on all day about why that’s a load of bullshit, but I won’t give them the satisfaction. That’s what they want. They’re carnival barkers, nothing more. Moving on, the Texans will most likely play at New England next week (if the Steelers win), but also could be headed for Kansas City (if the Dolphins win). Either scenario will be a rematch (Texans lost 27-0 to the Patriots, and beat the Chiefs 19-12). History would suggest that the Pats are going to thrash whoever stands in their way, and if anyone manages to beat them in the playoffs, that team makes a Superbowl appearance at the very least. This has been the case for the past 5 seasons, in which the Pats have played in 5 AFC Championship games and 2 Super Bowls.
So, why do the Texans have a chance to win at Foxborough? Well, Bill O’Brien was once a part of the Patriots staff so he at least has some level of knowledge of how they think when they prepare, and of all Belichick’s assistant coaches that have gone on to be head coaches in the NFL (predominantly failed attempts to replicate what the Pats do), O’Brien has probably been the most successful. As I said previously, he’s got the team accomplishing things that hadn’t previously accomplished, so it stands to reason that they could (for the first time ever) win in the divisional round of the playoffs and advance to the AFC Championship game. Although Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler has been the media’s favorite punching bag this season, the fact remains that teams are 14-8 in games in which they start him at QB. Among his more memorable victories was a primetime thriller in Denver last season in which the Osweiler led Broncos defeated the Patriots. He made several impressive throws in the game, which I’m sure was all the Texans needed to see before they busted out their checkbook. Yesterday he, and the rest of the Texans, played their best game of the season, but everyone knows that they’ll have to play even better to eliminate the Pats (probably, watching the Steelers beat up on the Dolphins right now) at their place next weekend. Why might they be able to do it? Because Denver did it in the playoffs last year using a very similar formula. Play exceptional defense, and don’t turn it over.
While many have dismissed the Texans meager offensive production as poor coaching, playing, etc, I can see that the Texans play offense in a manner that allows the defense to win games for them. The thing the Texans do most reliably is stop opposing offenses from moving the ball. Why throw the ball downfield and risk an interception when you can run it and punt? As long as they’ve got a 3 point lead or so, this method has proven effective. Fun fact, the Bill O’Brien Texans are 18-0 in games in which they were leading at halftime. Now, just because the Texans mean not to turn the ball over, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Osweiler threw more interceptions than touchdowns this season. At times, he has looked really bad, and he probably should have been benched once or twice, but the Osweiler I saw yesterday was different. 0 turnovers. 2 total touchdowns. 1 decisive victory for the Texans. IF he can continue to play at that level, we’ve got a shot. WE’VE GOT A SHOT!