(Texans vs. Raiders) + (Pats vs. Colts) = Pass the Prozac Please

A confession: Sunday afternoon, I made my way to a downtown sports bar

fully intending to equally divide

my attention between the Texans-Raiders and Pats-Colts games. For about two-and-a-half minutes, that plan worked. And then the New England-Indy game began.

I’m sorry, there’s just no way I could properly pay attention to the events taking place in Oakland. Pats-Colts had everything you’d ever want in a football game: superstar players, great teams, good vs. evil, high drama, and significance. In short, it had everything the Texans’ tilt lacked. I felt guilty about my betrayal for all of about two seconds, because it quickly became apparent that I wasn’t the only Judas in the bar. Nearly every TV in the joint was tuned to the Game of the Millennium and just about every fan was watching it. Just like me, they were essentially ignoring the Texans.

So I’m going to spare you the Monday morning breakdown this week. Besides, what can I tell you that you don’t already know?

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By now, it’s obvious the Texans will finish the season with a record falling somewhere between 6-10 and 8-8, which is exactly what any sane person would have predicted before the year began. How you view that record probably depends on whether you’re a half-full or half-empty person. The optimist will see a 7-9 or 8-8 season as progress, however small. They’ll point to the team’s season-long penchant for big plays in the passing game and an improved record despite a rash of major injuries (by the way, if you thought the pass defense was porous before, just wait until you see these final seven games without Dunta Robinson). Meanwhile, the Negative Nellies will scoff at an overpaid, underachieving defensive line and the near-complete absence of a running game, yesterday’s contest notwithstanding (come on, everybody runs on the Raiders).

Forget who’s right and who’s wrong, the real question is “Does it matter?” Because the one point hammered home by watching the Pats-Colts slugfest was just how far away the Texans are from being a legitimate contender. Of course, this isn’t exactly a newsflash. But when Houston fans check out the AFC landscape, they must instinctively reach for the Procac. Indy and New England aren’t going away anytime soon, since they combine top-notch talent with first-class coaching and management. And the news is especially dire for those who loathe the Pats: Despite having its first round pick stripped after the cheating scandal, New England will still have a number one selection courtesy of last April’s draft day deal with San Francisco. In a related story, the 49ers’ record now stands at 2-6. Good golly. The rich are only getting richer, people.

Of course, I imagine Texans fans aren’t really concerned with Super Bowl trophies right this minute. Just getting an opportunity to merely dream about the playoffs would suffice for now. Well, as they say, there’s always next year.

And look on the bright side. Next week, there’s no need to feel conflicted about ignoring the Texans. They’ll be on their bye.

Phew. – Jason Friedman

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