The Houston Texans are currently in the midst of easily the most successful era of their 11-year franchise history, having won AFC South championships and a postseason game in each of the past two seasons.
Yet, as they get set for their January tilt with the New England Patriots in Foxboro, the Texans find themselves as underdogs again, given virtually no chance of beating Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and company.
That’s probably because few forget that the last time these two teams faced off, the Patriots dismantled the Texans 42-14, starting a free fall for the then 11-1 Texans that saw them spiral all the way down to the third seed in the AFC.
One of the biggest factors going against Houston is their lack of experience, and that goes doubly for quarterback Matt Schaub, who played in (and won) his first career playoff game just last week.
Unlike Arian Foster, one of the league’s best running backs who last week became the first player in NFL history to rush for over 100 yards in each of first three career playoff games, Schaub still has a lot to prove.
The Texans have a good offensive line and running game, which takes the pressure off Schaub to not have to carry the load and throw the ball 40 times a game like other quarterbacks do.
However, for all the flack the Patriots get about their shaky secondary, they’ve done an excellent job against the run all season, holding opponents to just 101.9 rushing yards per game, good for ninth-best in the league.
Schaub has the most to prove of any quarterback left in the AFC playoffs, and sooner or later, the Texans will be calling on him to make the big plays in crunch time that win games in January and February.
In the end, the Texans will only go as far as Matt Schaub can take them. If they want to establish themselves as true Super Bowl contenders today and beyond, there’s no better time than now. For the team, and their quarterback.