There will be no need for 2,000 words to explain the various permutations of things that need to happen this week for the Texans to make the 2009 NFL Playoffs. Thanks to the various dominoes falling yesterday, heading into Week 17, the following scenario needs to play out:
-- Texans beat the Patriots
-- Pray that two of the following three things happen: Jets lose to the Bengals, Broncos lose to the Chiefs, Ravens lose to the Raiders
The good news -- for the first time in franchise history, the Texans will be playing a meaningful game in the month of January, and actually have mathematically clinched relevancy into the 3:15 games on Sunday, provided they beat the Patriots in Reliant in one of the early games.(Degenerate alert -- the Texans have been installed as early seven-point favorites, a sign that Vegas expects Belichick to go "all Caldwell up in this mutha" and rest his starters on Sunday. More on Caldwell in a minute.)
The bad news -- the Texans' playoff hopes are resting on the arms of Charlie Frye and Matt Cassel. Gulp.
Oh, and more sobering degenerate data that supports the improbability of the Dunta Robinson Era going at least one more game after Sunday (Yes, that was my way of saying no way he gets the money he's looking for here) -- here are the lines for the three games the Texans will be watching on the scoreboard Sunday (home team in CAPS):
-- JETS -9 over Bengals
-- Ravens -10 over RAIDERS
-- BRONCOS -13 over Chiefs
It's hard to put into words how badly Indianapolis Colts caretaker Jim Caldwell screwed the Texans when he put up the white flag in the third quarter of that Jets game yesterday, not to mention how badly he screwed over an Indianapolis fan base that was apparently starving for immortality more than we thought.
More on the big-picture ramifications of Caldwell's lack of testicular fortitude in a minute, but as far as how it relates to the Texans, this was one of those Saturdays where the Texans had all of the playground bullies on their side. The Chargers had already put VY and the Titans on the shelf. The Steelers were the beneficiaries of some shaky officiating overcoming the late game appearence of Ben Roethlisberger's evil twin, Ben Russellberger (as in JaMarcus, as in interception machine), in beating the Ravens. The Eagles got it done against the Broncos. If the Colts had just held on to that 15-10 lead against the Jets, then New York is done for the season as well.
In short, the Texans had all of the heavyweights doing their fighting for them on Sunday, and it was working....until Indy backup QB Curtis Painter set foot on the field in place of Peyton Manning, which we quickly found out was a little like watching Stevie Wonder valet park your new Porsche. Fumble by Painter, touchdown by the Jets, 18-15, game over.
You could tell by the look on the faces of the Colts (and by the boos cascading onto Lucas Oil Field) that the players and fans did not agree with their "head coach's" (yes, Caldwell gets air quotes after that dismal performance yesterday) decision. The Colts and their fans have been down the Super Bowl champ road before, just three years ago; they clearly wanted something bigger this time around.
Before Sunday, 99 percent of America had no idea who the Colts head coach was; they all know now. He's the guy with no balls. Along those lines, you'd think that Caldwell might have some awareness of his own legacy. The only way he is remembered as anything but a caretaker for a team that is essentially run by Peyton Manning is if the Colts do something immortal...like go 19-0. Now he's remembered as the guy who took the Colts perfect season and flushed it down the toilet.
My favorite part was the reaction of the Colts players. They all appeared to be pissed off, which leads me to believe this was a decision that either (a) was not communicated to them before the game or (b) was decided in the heat of the battle. (Choice (c) is that the Colts players were aware this was going to happen but don't take to surrendering very well...ironic for a team who plays someone named Pierre Garcon at wide receiver.)
As for the Texans, the Colts matador-style game management significantly amped up the degree of difficulty on Sunday for the Texans to achieve their own little version of semi-immortality -- a playoff berth. The Jets control their own destiny now (damn, that Week 1 game looks a little important now, huh?) and there's a good chance that the Texans, if they beat the Patriots Sunday, will need a Raiders/Chiefs moneyline parlay to hit (which is roughly
a twenty-five- or thirty-to-one shot) -- good night now.
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In the movie Tin Cup, Roy McAvoy hits about a half dozen balls into the lake before knocking in a three wood for a twelve. He killed any chance he had at winning the U.S. Open, but the twelve was memeorable for holing a three wood -- it was indeed, to use his words, "immortal." No one was asking the Colts to do anything THAT self-destructive on Sunday.
Lots of Super Bowls have been won; Indy has been there, done that. No one has ever gone 19-0. The Colts had a chance at immortality taken from them on Sunday by their head coach. And at the same time, the Texans had a little bit of their potential playoff soul ripped out.
Thanks for nothing, Caldwell.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7PM on the Sean & John
Show, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.