Think NFL Network is suffering from buyer’s remorse right about now? Too bad they can’t flex games like NBC. I’m sure they assumed the Jaguars would be out of the playoff conversation, but no way they expected the two teams to have a combined five wins. Not everyone had the Texans as a playoff team, I saw a few previews that predicted them to finish the year 8-8, but if anyone claims they predicted the Texans to have fewer wins than the Jaguars coming into this game, they’re lying.
I still think the Texans have better overall talent on their roster than the Jaguars, but that “talent advantage” didn’t matter two weeks ago when they played at Reliant Stadium. If the Texans play at the same level that they did against New England last week, they should beat the Jaguars in Jacksonville. Though, as I’ve stated in previous articles, that wouldn’t benefit them in the long term. Like they did in 2010 against Jacksonville, expect them to win a meaningless game down the stretch when a loss would be more beneficial. That’s so Texans.
The Jaguars have won three of their last four games after getting off to an 0-8 start, but despite the recent success there still isn’t much to definitively point to as a strength of their team. However, there has been improvement in at least one stat that has led to their recent turnaround.
Turnovers – In the Jaguars three recent wins, they’re a combined +5 in turnover differential and won the turnover battle in each of those three games. In their nine losses this season, they’re a combined -9 in turnover differential and lost the turnover battle in six of those nine games. Saying a team needs to win the turnover battle to be victorious is often over simplifying the keys to the game, but it’s definitely a huge factor.
No one expects the Texans to win this game. In truth, a loss would be more beneficial to their long term success than a win. The Texans lost around five or six spots in the draft in 2010 when they won their final game against Jacksonville. The Patriots are obviously a much bigger challenge than the Jaguars, but similarly a win after their playoff chances had already vanished, would hurt them in the upcoming NFL draft.
If the Texans still have fight left in them, we'll find out quickly on Sunday. After two embarrassing losses to two bad teams at home, signs of them starting to mail it in wouldn't be surprising. However, they were dominated twice by the Patriots last season so you have to figure pride will kick in for Texans players to make sure this game is at least competitive.
Takeaways - The Patriots defense hasn't been dominate, but it's been opportunistic. Coming into this week the Patriots are tied for 4th in the NFL in takeaways at 2.1 per game. The Texans rank 23rd in offensive turnovers and 30th in turnover differential (-12); turnovers will likely be a big factor again this week.
I'm sure a few of you did a double take or at least had one eyebrow raise after reading this headline; what in the hell should we be thankful for with this garbage season? Obviously not their record, but that doesn't mean there aren't other reasons for Texans fans to give thanks.
J.J. Watt - How could you not be thankful to have the best defensive player in the NFL on your team? Especially after the news that Patrick Starr broke about a draft day trade that almost had the Texans selecting Patrick Peterson in 2011 instead of the reigning defensive player of the year. I like Peterson, but obviously I'd rather have Watt. Peterson is a very good corner, but a 3-4 end with the skills of Watt is a very rare thing. Watt had the best season ever from a defensive lineman last year, and despite not having the same eye popping stats this season, has still played at a first team All-Pro level. This season he leads the league in tackles for loss (17), is tied for 5th in forced fumbles, and tied for 7th in sacks (on pace for 14). He's the best defensive player in the league and is only 24 years old; hope the Texans have their cap in order before he is due a new contract.
The routes taken by the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars this season have been different, but they've surprisingly reached the same destination. No one is surprised to see the Jaguars at the bottom of the standings, but the Texans season sinking like a lead balloon has been a shock to their fans. The Jacksonville Jaguars are not just the worst team in the league this season, but one of the worst teams of all time statistically.
With how bad the Jaguars are, it would stand to reason that I should pick the Texans to win and probably win comfortably, but I have some doubt. I say that because the same logic could have been applied to home games against the Rams and Raiders, but they lost to both teams, including a 25 point embarrassment in week six against St. Louis. On paper, the Texans are a much better team than Jacksonville. However, the Texans record against the Vegas spread (1-8-1) is even worse than their actual record, so expecting the Texans to meet expectations week to week is just foolish at this point.
Let the Bridgewater Bowl begin!
In a word, the 2013 Houston Texans season has been disappointing. Unfortunately, under achievement has become the expectation of many fans and the anger they once felt after a crushing defeat has been replaced with a numb acceptance of their failure.
After the team came up well short of expectations during the 2010 season, to borrow a line from one of my favorite TV shows ‘Breaking Bad’, the Texans took a half-measure to fix the issues that caused the failure. Replacing the latest unqualified defensive coordinator Kubiak buddy in 2010 with Wade Phillips made a big difference, but that half-measure didn’t fix the glaring problems with the head coach and quarterback. Kubiak and Schaub seem like good men and I really wanted them to succeed, but it’s obvious at this point that they’re simply not capable of reaching the next level. Three years after the disastrous 2010 season, the Texans have found themselves in the same position of being forced into making franchise altering decisions on personnel. No more half measures Mr. McNair.
Before we move on and look ahead in the coming weeks and months to what the future holds for our favorite NFL franchise, I wanted to compare the failures of the Texans two most disappointing seasons. I was a huge fan of wrestling as a kid during the mid to late 1990′s, so I’m here to tell you which season would win a cage match for the saddest championship belt you could imagine. Think of this matchup between the 2010 and 2013 seasons as the Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart cage match from Summer Slam 1994. No excellence of execution here however, this is a battle to decide the worst of the worst.
Only one season can make it over the top, back down to the mat, and be declared the “winner” of the most disappointing season in Texans franchise history.