Monday, December 28, 2015

Houston Texans: All but in the playoffs.

Brandon Weeden.

The Texans trounced the hapless Tennessee Titans 34-6 on Sunday with Brandon Weeden quarterbacking the team.

As a result, the team is now all but assured of the Division crown (If Cincinnati wins on Monday night they're in, otherwise the Colts need a Rube Goldberg chain of events to happen to pass the Texans) and a home-game in the playoffs, potentially at 9-7.

Forgetting for a minute the silliness of the NFL playoff structure (it's now likely the Texans will face the potentially 11-5 Chiefs (who beat them) in the first round) or the fact that there are teams with better records (Pittsburgh) who could be on the outside looking in, as champions of the pedestrian AFC South the Texans will be in the playoffs whether that's good for the team or no.

This seems pretty impossible for a team who, after the first half of the season, was 3-5 and coming off horrendous losses to the Falcons and then the hapless Dolphins. A team whose defense looked like it couldn't stop a stiff Jr. High Marching Band and whose offense had just lost it's best weapon (Arian Foster) to a season ending Achilles tendon tear.

There were even calls, by many including me I admit, for a house-cleaning to occur at the end of the season.

Yet, improbably, this team seemingly from the Island of Offensive Misfit Toys turned things around and, behind the arm of Brandon Weeden, beat the aforementioned Titans by a bunch and sewed up a playoff berth barring the highly improbable.

How improbable?  If you were to take a flight to Vegas and place $100 on the chain of events that need to happen for the Texans to lose out to the Colts on a parlay the resulting payout would be North of $100,000.

Here's what would need to happen.

1. Denver beats Cincinnati (MNF)
2.Texans lose to Jaguars
3. Colts beat Titans
4. Miami beats New England
5. Denver beats San Diego
6. Atlanta beats New Orleans
7. Baltimore beats Cincinnati
8. Buffalo beats New York (Jets)
9. Oakland beats Kansas City
10. Pittsburgh beats Cleveland.

Any deviation from that formula and the Texans are in.  I've seen the odds placed at around 3300-1.

Now, granted, all of the above are possible, but not probable. New England losing to Miami would be the biggest upset.  Of course, the Texans can silence any of this talk by beating Jacksonville on Sunday.  If that happens none of the nightmare scenario above matters.

It's no secret that I've been negative toward this team all season long. I still remain lukewarm about their long-term success as currently constructed, especially with what I feel is one of the weakest personnel evaluation teams in the league.  Still, O'Brien has done a decent job coaching this team after the disasters at Atlanta and Miami had people questioning his ability and, after the 1st half debacle, the defense has decided to play like many thought they could in the pre-season. 

So, while I still think the Texans have talent deficiencies at a variety of positions, I think their coaching staff is scheming well enough to hide that, and creating game plans that play to their strengths.

I'm still not sure if making the playoffs is a good thing for this team in the long-run (Bob McNair has shown a strong tendency to ignore weakness when he shouldn't), I do think that they should be praised for what they have done.

Provided disaster, and improbability, doesn't strike that is.

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