Houston Texans: Your Definitive Week 12 Rooting Guide

As a society, we've never been more advanced in the functionality we have at our fingertips. Unfortunately, that functionality (which is 98 percent a result of having an app for nearly EVERYTHING on our phones) has made us a little lazy.

As one example, Jimmy John's latest ad campaign touts how quickly they can deliver us a sandwich by pressing a button on our phones, for God's sakes! I do not want to leave this chair for my processed meats and gobs of mayonnaise...BRING IT TO ME!! Hell, even Starbuck's is catering to the craze, promising us that soon they will be able to deliver their overpriced swill right to your office (to those of you who think calling a small "Venti" somehow makes you sophisticated).

We've gone from a microwave society, where we wanted to be able to procure everything in life ourselves just way faster, to a "serve me" society, where we want everyone else to do the work for us and, oh by the way, "bring it to me"! This chair is too comfortable to leave!

Honestly, you people disgust me. (I was looking in the mirror when I typed that, to be clear.) And yet, I want to help you. That means YOU, Texan fans!

After the auspicious debut of Ryan Mallett last Sunday in a 23-7 win over the Cleveland Browns, the Texans are 5-5 and technically find themselves on the playoff bubble, but at the 11th overall seed in the AFC right now, they're on the bubble with Crisco all over the bottom of their shoes and butcher's knives tied to their hands to break their fall. (Overly contrived image quota, achieved.)

Here are the standings as of Friday morning:

1. New England 8-2 (AFC East Champ) 2. Denver 7-3 (AFC West Champ) 3. Cincinnati (AFC North Champ) 4. Indianapolis (AFC South Champ)

5. Pittsburgh 7-4 (Wild card) 6. Kansas City 7-4 (Wild card) ------------------------------------------ 7. Miami 6-4 8. San Diego 6-4 9. Baltimore 6-4 10. Cleveland 6-4 11. Houston 5-5 12. Buffalo 5-5

And for the sake of completeness, 13, NY Jets (2-8), 14. Tennessee (2-8), 15. Jacksonville (1-9), 16, Oakland (1-10). Believe it or not, all but Oakland still have a mathematical shot at the playoffs.

And speaking of Oakland, they gave the Texans (and the rest of the aspiring wild card teams) a favor last night as they triggered the inevitable Kansas City late season slide (spoken like a man who is sitting on a CHIEFS UNDER 7.5 wins ticket) with their first win of the season last night in Oakland, a game that featured one of the more tedious endings as the Raiders had to endure a Chiefs 4th down conversion on which the Raiders committed three different penalties, and a sack on the final series after which the Raiders had to burn a timeout because Sio Moore was still 20 yards behind the Chiefs line of scrimmage celebrating his sack on Alex Smith.

By the way, anyone who ever suggests tanking in the NFL needs to go watch the Raiders' celebrating after that game. It's a virtually impossible thing to do in the NFL, where play itself is so dangerous and the players are not on guaranteed contracts.

One other thing before we get to the rooting guide for the weekend. If you're trying to cobble together all the reasons why the Texans can make the playoffs, how about this one? Here are the easiest winning percentages of the remaining opponents for teams in the AFC entering Week 12:

12. Ravens (48%) 13. Jaguars (43%) 14. Colts (41%) 15. Titans (39%) 16. Texans (37%)

The message here? If you're a competent team, it's good to be in the AFC South. The Texans have the Jags twice and the Titans home still. Sweeping those three games (a given if we're going to seriously entertain postseason football here), gets you to eight wins. That likely means finding two more wins against Cincy this weekend (Andy Dalton 0-2 in NRG Stadium), Baltimore at home (hey, Flacco can Flacco with the best of them), and Indy on the road (I got nothing).

In short, if Ryan Mallett keeps giving you 66 percent completion percentage, over 200 yards through the air, and he stays clean in the pocket, the Texans can do this. 11th place is tricky, but the earth can move quickly in the NFL. So here are the games this weekend that impact the Texans, along with what your Pavlovian reaction needs to be when you see these games on your ticker:

BROWNS at FALCONS (-3.5), Sun 12:00 p.m. Pavlovian Texan Fan Reaction: Brian Hoyer, your regression to the mean began last week, son! The Browns now slowly remember that they're THE BROWNS...I mean, you guys do know you're 2-22 straight up in your last 24 as a road underdog, right?!?

TITANS at EAGLES (-11), Sun 12:00 p.m. Pavlovian Texan Fan Reaction: Yeah, this game doesn't really mean anything for the playoffs, but the Titans are involved...and now and forever, fuck the Titans!!

LIONS at PATRIOTS (-7), Sun 12:00 p.m. Pavlovian Texan Fan Reaction: Is anybody in the AFC East really catching the Patriots? Probably not. But it would be nice if they would stop routinely throwing 40 points up on the board every weekend so that when the playoffs roll around, us little wild card cities feel like we have a chance...so GO LIONS!! And GO JIM CALDWELL!!....Hey, can somebody wake up Jim Caldwell? (Am I the only one who thinks that he is able to sleep standing up with his eyes open?

JAGUARS at COLTS (-14), Sun 12:00 p.m. Pavlovian Texan Fan Reaction: For the third straight season, the Jags have started out 1-9, which means by the transitive property of "not being a dumb ass", I have calculated that they were 1-9 last season. Well guess what? They finished 4-12! Now starts Gus Bradley's big 3-3 finish! What better way to start than by dragging the Colts down to 6-5!! (This is where I chug LOTS of whiskey.)

RAMS at CHARGERS (-5), Sun 3:05 p.m. Pavlovian Texan Fan Reaction: The Rams are one of those teams that, as long as their QB situation remains as mucked up as it is, will always be like 6-10 or 7-9, and will always be a big enough pain in the ass to beat average teams that don't keep their eye on the ball. If you look up the Chargers in the dictionary, you'll see it says "average team who doesn't keep its eye on the ball." THE RAMS CAN DO THIS.

DOLPHINS at BRONCOS (-7), Sun 3:25 p.m. Pavlovian Texan Fan Reaction: Someone has to win the AFC West, so we're ok with rooting for Peyton Manning here to drag the Dolphins into the Texans 6-5 muck. The Texans need the Dolphins to lose way more than Texan fans need to bask in the afterglow of any Peyton Manning failure. This week, Texan fan, Peyton Manning is your friend! That dorky, cylindrical-shaped headed friend you've never had before.

RAVENS at SAINTS (-3), Mon 7:30 p.m. Pavlovian Texan Fan Reaction: The Saints have lost two in a row at home, including a disastrous thumping at the hands of the Bengals last week. On behalf of the sea of 5 to 7 win teams in the AFC, thanks for nothing, Saints! The good news is that you can make it up to us this Monday night. No way you guys lose three in a row at home is there, Sean Payton? I mean, even at 4-6, you're battling for a division title! Of course, worth noting, the last time Joe Flacco played a game in New Orleans, he was being showered in confetti afterwards....

JETS vs BILLS (no line), sometime soon in Detroit Pavlovian Texan Fan Reaction: J-E-T-S...JETS....JETS...JETS!!!

MOST REASONABLE TEXANS-FRIENDLY SCENARIO The Texans keep their hex on Andy Dalton alive, giving the Steelers control of the AFC North (which we're fine with, because the Texans are 0-1 head to head with the Steelers), the Broncos, Falcons, and Saints take care of business and the Texans find themselves in a 6-5 tie with Cleveland, Miami, and Buffalo, half a game back of 6-4-1 Cincy, and chasing the two AFC West teams (KC and San Diego) in the wild card spots at 7-4.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.


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