Sean Pendergast

Four Second Half Predictions for the Houston Texans

Davis Mills has likely not started his last game of 2021.
Davis Mills has likely not started his last game of 2021. Photo by Eric Sauseda
When you're a fan of an NFL team, and your most memorable week of the NFL season was the bye week, well ... you might be a Houston Texans fan. That was the case for me and my wife Amy (an original Texans season ticket holder, if you need her), as we took our relaxation time away from our NFL team to, wait for it, GO WATCH AN ACTUAL NFL GAME!

We made the trek up to Green Bay for the game of the week, the Packers and the Seahawks, and while the game itself was kind of a dud (17-0 Packers win, no touchdowns until ten minutes to go in the game), the atmosphere was incredible. People in their seats 30 minutes before kickoff, proud fans, rich history, and SNOW. We even got SNOW!

It was everything NRG Stadium hasn't been the last couple years (to be clear, I'll give the Texans a pass on the lack of snow), and I came away simultaneously exhilarated and jealous. Right now, I don't see a path to where the Texans' game day experience becomes a reasonable fraction of what I just witnessed. I'm sure a path exists, based largely on the right arm of some QB-TBD playing high school or college football at the moment, but wow.

I now see what Randall Cobb meant when he said THIS after being traded by the Texans back to the Packers a few months ago: Honestly, there were many times over the weekend that I couldn't fathom the game I was at existing in the same competitive ecosystem as the Texans live in right now.  So I shoot my morning shot of whiskey and blindly cry "IN NICK I TRUST..." and pray for sanity.


Now, here are four Texans second half predictions that will jettison me right back into the reality of the football hell we all live in now:

The Texans will set a new team record for least amount of yards by a leading rusher in a single season
As we enter the second half of the season, the Texans' leading rusher actually plays for the Saints. Mark Ingram has 294 yards rushing as a Texan this season, and that's enough to hold a COMFORTABLE lead over Phillip Lindsay (133 yards) and David Johnson (119 yards). With eight games left, there is an outside chance that Ingram remains the leading rusher for the Texans, which is beyond embarrassing. At the very least, it appears we are on track to have the Texans finish the season with their worst single season rushing leader in franchise history. Here is the list:

Steve Slaton 2009, 437 yards
Jonathan Wells 2002, 529 yards
Ron Dayne 2006, 612 yards
David Johnson 2020, 691 yards

Symbolically, I need it to be David Johnson who wins this season's Texans rushing title with 295 yards, one more than Ingram.


Davis Mills will start at least three more games
There are eight games remaining, and we know Tyrod Taylor will start at least one of them, this Sunday in Nashville. The remaining seven games look like this:

Week 12 vs NYJ
Week 13 vs IND
Week 14 vs SEA
Week 15 at JAC
Week 16 vs LAC
Week 17 at SF
Week 18 vs TEN

The simple avenue to my being correct is Taylor gets injured in the next few games, and it's now Mills' job the rest of the year. The scenario that assumes good health for all involved that I see as reasonable is that the Texans lose to the Jaguars in Week 15, and management says "Screw it, let's let Davis have the last three games."

There will be at least two more regular rotation players cut loose over the course of the season
Through their actions, and through the actual words of Nick Caserio in various interviews he has done with me and Seth Payne on SportsRadio 610, the Texans have shown that a big part of the process in 2021 is about weeding out people who are not buying into the Texans' definition of professionalism. It actually seems to take extreme precedence over winning and losing. As this season slides into the toilet, I think it's a lock that certain disposable players (and to be clear, practically everyone on this team is disposable) will make management uncomfortable enough to say "Meh, we're out of the Lonnie Johnson business." (I am using a Johnson merely as an example, although he would be near the top of any big board of guys I could see management moving on from.) So I'll set the number getting cut under these circumstances at two players.

The Texans' final record will be 2-15
Let's post that remaining schedule again:

Week 11 at TEN
Week 12 vs NYJ
Week 13 vs IND
Week 14 vs SEA
Week 15 at JAC
Week 16 vs LAC
Week 17 at SF
Week 18 vs TEN

The easy one is that they beat the Jets, whose backup QB just threw four picks yesterday, and that's it. If I had to power rank these games in order of "most likely the Texans pull off the win," I'd go like this:

1. Week 12 vs NYJ
2. Week 15 at JAC
3. Week 18 vs TEN
4. Week 14 vs SEA
5. Week 16 vs LAC
6. Week 17 at SF
7. Week 13 vs IND
8. Week 11 at TEN

The only reason I have the home game versus the Titans that high is that Tennessee could be resting starters by then for their playoff run.

Happy second half of the season, everybody!

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast