By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
WHY THE TEXANS WILL LOSE: In their history, even in 2011 when they were significantly better than every team in the division, the Texans have never swept the AFC South, and they've still never won a game in Indy. Even in 2011, when the Colts finished 2-14, they beat the Texans in Indy (Dan Orlovsky, yo!).
SPREAD IF THEY PLAYED TONIGHT: PICK 'EM
PREDICTION: Colts 24, Texans 19
BUCKET RATING: COIN FLIPPER
Sunday, December 22 – vs Denver
WHY THE TEXANS WILL WIN: Because Indy's Count Dooku landed in Denver, and Count Dooku was easily the lamest of all the Sith.
WHY THE TEXANS WILL LOSE: If there's one area of the Texans's defense that's looked shaky since the second half of the 2012 season (including the 2013 preseason), it's the secondary, and unlike Tom Brady, Peyton Manning has a wealth of proven weapons in is receiving corps. In fact, he already had a wealth of proven weapons, and still the Broncos went out and got him Wes Welker. This would be like Derek Jeter inviting Minka Kelly over in the middle of a threesome, just an embarrassment of riches. This has the earmarking of one of those vintage Peyton 367-yard games he used to spin against the Texans back when he was with Indy.
SPREAD IF THEY PLAYED TONIGHT: PICK 'EM
PREDICTION: Texans 33, Broncos 28
BUCKET RATING: COIN FLIPPER
Sunday, December 29 – at Tennessee
WHY THE TEXANS WILL WIN: The Broncos's big offseason pickup at wide receiver was Wes Welker. The Titans's was Kevin Walter. Trust me, playing the Titans will feel like a game of Pop-a-Shot does after shooting 30-footers in your driveway for two hours.
WHY THE TEXANS WILL LOSE: OK, I can't end the article without bringing up the 800-pound gorilla in the room – the Texans are a combined 1-5 in the final three regular season games of the last two seasons. It's funny, back when the Texans were playing meaningless games in December, Gary Kubiak was a monster. In fact, he finished the season with a win every year of his tenure until 2011, when he started making the playoffs. In fact, his regular season record after December 1 during his head coaching career goes like this:
And if we are looking to bring the theme of this whole piece full circle, therein lies one more shred of statistical evidence that the esoteric concept of "clutch" is either something the Schaub/Kubiak duo are still trying to master or perhaps subconsciously fear.
Ain't nothing to it, but to do it.
SPREAD IF THEY PLAYED TONIGHT: Texans -3
PREDICTION: Texans 19, Titans 17
BUCKET RATING: MUST WIN
To Sum Things Up
MUST WIN (7) – vs Tennessee, vs St. Louis, at Arizona, vs Oakland, vs Jacksonville, at Jacksonville, at Tennessee
I have the Texans, not surprisingly, winning all seven of these games. The only ones that make me even moderately nervous are the St. Louis game because I think they could be much improved, and Tennessee away in late December, because it's late December.
COIN FLIPPERS (8) – at San Diego, at Baltimore, vs Seattle, at Kansas City, vs Indianapolis, vs New England, at Indianapolis, vs Denver
I have the Texans going 4-4 in these eight games, including a loss to Kansas City that may surprise a few people.
STEALS (1): at San Francisco
I have the Texans losing their steal game because it's at the end of a brutal five-game stretch, it's on Sunday night, it's on the road, it's against an elite quarterback – really, there's no good reason to pick them (which means they'll probably win by three touchdowns).
So you do the hokey pokey and turn yourself around, and the Pendergast Method yields an 11-5 record, which probably would not yield a first round bye, which probably means another second round exit from the playoffs.
And lots of angry phone calls about Matt Schaub.
Your Best Bets
SAN FRANCISCO UNDER 11 (-120) –
BALTIMORE RAVENS UNDER 8 1/2 wins (-115) –
Seemingly every year going back for about a decade now, at least one of the two teams (if not both) that goes to the Super Bowl backslides significantly the following season. Here's the data (with following season's results in parentheses):
2000: Baltimore (10-6, lost div round), New York Giants (7-9, missed playoffs)
2001: New England (9-7, missed playoffs), St. Louis (7-9, missed playoffs)
2002: Tampa Bay (7-9, missed playoffs), Oakland (4-12 missed playoffs)
2003: New England (14-2, won Super Bowl), Carolina (7-9, missed playoffs)
2004: New England (10-6, lost div round), Philadelphia (6-10, missed playoffs)
2005: Pittsburgh (8-8, missed playoffs), Seattle (9-7, lost div round)
2006: Indianapolis (13-3, lost div round), Chicago (7-9, missed playoffs)
2007: New York Giants (12-4, lost div round), New England (11-5, missed playoffs)
2008: Pittsburgh (9-7, missed playoffs), Arizona (10-6, lost div round)
2009: New Orleans (11-5, lost wildcard round), Indianapolis (10-6 lost wildcard round)
2010: Green Bay (15-1, lost div round), Pittsburgh (12-4, lost div round)
2011: New York Giants (9-7, missed playoffs), New England (12-4, lost AFC Title game)
So if you're scoring at home, of the last 24 teams to go to the Super Bowl, the following season's results are summarized as follows:
12: Missed playoffs
2: Lost in the wild card round
I rarely comment online. It all goes out with the tide of ignorance. But this was a very pleasurable article to read, though less than orgasmic. 11-5 sounds about right, barring widespread or catastrophic injuries.
I do think your patience chart is a little unfair to McNair, because Kubiak/Schaub were trying to take an expansion team first to break-even, then to playoff contenders, which they have done. The other coach/quarterback combinations you compare them to are all with established and successful franchises. Also, all those yards Schaub racked up in 2009 and 2010 would not have been meaningless if the Texans defense had not blown so many second half leads. The 2010 team could very easily have been 10-6 instead of 6-10, which is probably why Kubiak kept his job. It was only after Arian Foster and Wade Phillips arrived that Kubiak went more to the ball-control offense, though it does seem obvious that he is more comfortable with this type of game plan.
Contract or no contract, the pressure is on Schaub this year far more than any other player, and everybody including Schaub knows it. He's not going to get far on foot, and he's not Brady or Rodgers, but I think he's good enough. For the entire time Schaub has been here, the bigger problem has been on the other side of the line, even including the games at the end of last year when Schaub was really bad. It wasn't Schaub who put em in the hole in New England, it was the defense. The defense is way better now than it was three years ago, and with Cushing back and (we can hope) the impact of Ed Reed, it should be better than it was last year. But as you point out, they still need to prove they can beat the Superbowl quarterbacks -- there are only four that are head and shoulders above the rest and we all know who they are -- in a big game. Schaub and Kubiak can maybe win a regular season shoot-out against San Diego or Baltimore, or even Seattle or San Francisco, though it's unlikely. But to beat New England or Denver in the play-offs, and that is where the road to the Superbowl will most likely lead at 11-5, the defense has to hold them to three TDs and a field goal, or less.
If all the key pieces are healthy, who's to say it can't be done?
30-27 Texans, AFC champs.
(Then the Niners will pitch a virtual shut out in the Superbowl, sort of like Astros going down 4-0 in the World Series...)
The problem here is Gary Kubiak emotionally invested in an average QB that reminded him of himself back when he was riding the pine behind John Elway. Bob McNair emotionally invested in Kubiak in an almost father/son way. What Kubiak is doing is running the old Broncos offense with a QB closer to Bernie Kosar than John Elway. What makes matters worse is if Kubiak is fired, good old horse trader/thief Bum Phillips will amble into McNair's office and humbly suggest Wade will be "good" for the Texans. Yep, things are pretty bleak in H-town.
" ...and Tim Tebow is a bust." !!! OMG, the perfect line, fits the blackjack analogy and everything. It was right there, a bird's nest on the ground. Aaargh!
hey, man. cheer up! season has not started yet. it's gonna be fun to watch whatever happens. hope springs eternal!