Houston Texans: Predicting Their Final 2013 Record
Houston Texans: Predicting Their Final 2013 Record
If you asked Houston Texans fans at this time last year if they would have taken the team starting off by winning 11 of their first 12 games, even the most demanding fan would have given an emphatic yes. However, we all remember how the team fizzled out after looking dominant in most of their match ups to that point. So where does that leave the 2013 Texans and what can they learn from the 2012 group?
A key addition of, in my opinion, the best wide receiver in this draft along with the return of All-Pro linebacker Brian Cushing should make a world of difference. Getting Matt Schaub more weapons in the passing game is key to getting Arian Foster going and helping the system work again. When the run game broke down last year, Schaub showed an inability to put the team on his back and carry them there.
This, of course, has led to a summer long backlash towards the Texans quarterback that has many doubting if he can ever be the guy to lead them past the second round of the playoffs or further. I'm not in that group, however.
Two years ago I said that I thought the team was still two years away from being a Super Bowl team. Do I still feel that way now? I'm going to take you game by game on the 2013 schedule and explain if I do or do not still believe this to be the case.
Shall we begin?
Week 1 - @ San Diego Chargers
The season opens for Houston as they visit San Diego for Monday Night Football. With the questions on the offensive line for the opposition as well as Philip Rivers' best receivers being out with injuries, I expect Houston to be in control for most of the game and win handily. Also, expect the Houston defense to have a throwback to 2011 style game.
Week 2 - vs Tennessee Titans
The first of two annual games with the visiting Titans, Houston makes the home opener quick work as they handle the rebuilding Tennessee defense with ease. Expect to see Schaub get acquainted with his new weapon on offense, DeAndre Hopkins. I like what Munchak is dong with the offensive line finally, but it'll still be a work in progress at this point in the season.
Week 3 - @ Baltimore Ravens
It seems that everyone is writing off the defending champs this season due to offseason losses, but not me. There isn't a general manager in the game I trust more than Ozzie Newsome, and he retooled nicely. If this game was in Houston, I'd go with the good guys. But early in the season, in Baltimore, I have to go with the Ravens since they play so well at home. It'll be a close one, but the Texans' offense struggles.
Week 4 - vs Seattle Seahawks
In the middle of a tough three game stretch with Baltimore, Seattle and San Francisco, Houston will be feeling the pressure early to prove that they can win against signature teams this year. With that said, I believe they'll defend home field against the tough, young Seahawks in a game that comes down to the wire and could possibly be a Super Bowl preview.
Week 5 - @ San Francisco 49ers
In the first ugly loss of the season, fans are already starting to wonder if this team is a carbon copy of last year in the facet that they don't show up against the NFL elite. The defense can't catch up with the read option and the Niners do mostly what they want offensively in a game that sends Wade Phillips back to the drawing board.
Week 6 - vs St. Louis Rams
After a tough road loss against a team thought to be the favorites in the NFL this year, what better way to recover from the wounds than beating up on a rebuilding team? I like the direction Jeff Fisher has the Rams going in, but they aren't ready for this yet. They draw an angry Texans team that is looking to get the bad taste of last week out of their mouth.
Week 7 - @ Kansas City Chiefs
Another young and rebuilding team gives the Texans just what they need to ease into their bye week with little effort. Arian Foster finally has his breakout game of the season with some highlight reel runs against the struggling Chiefs front line. This one is over early.
Week 9 - vs Indianapolis Colts
Coming off the bye week refreshed and healthy, this is the last time the Colts will be this close to the Texans in the standings. After a full offseason of hearing about how Indy was going to dethrone them atop the AFC South, a statement game is due. It's reality check time for the Colts and Andrew Luck as Houston takes care of business.
Week 10 - @ Arizona Cardinals
This is the part of the schedule where the Texans have to prove that they're one of the elite in the league by not dropping a game to teams worse than they are. Any given Sunday and all that, but if they want a first round bye, these are the games they have to win and they get that off on the right foot with a comfortable victory in the desert.
Week 11 - vs Oakland Raiders
The Raiders and Texans seem to play every year for one reason or another, and Houston has usually had good success against them. This year should be no different as Oakland should be battling with Jacksonville for the right to the top pick in the 2014 draft. This is why I predict Terrelle Pryor will be starting at quarterback by this point.
Week 12 - vs Jacksonville Jaguars
It's odd to not see Jacksonville until this late in the season, but it ends the streak of teams on the softer side of the schedule for Houston; but it doesn't end their win streak which is run to six games. There is talk all week of them looking past this game for New England next week, but the Jaguars are bad enough that it makes little difference.
Week 13 - vs New England Patriots
With a win, Houston can clinch the division as well as exorcise some of the demons of their 2012 season. Unfortunately, I believe that New England is in their head at this point and the fact remains that they are just a bad matchup for the Texans. Until they prove they can even be competitive against Tom Brady and the Pats, I just can't pick them to win this one. The streak ends at six games, but they're still in the driver's seat in the AFC.
Week 14 - @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Much like after the loss in San Fran, Houston uses a less talented team to vent their frustrations. Jacksonville is angling for that top overall pick, and if Blaine Gabbert is still starting by this point, I wouldn't want to be him. Houston puts their foot on the gas and sweeps another season series from the Jags as well as clinching their third consecutive AFC South crown.
Week 15 - @ Indianapolis Colts
Every year I say the Texans are going to win one that they shouldn't and lose one that they shouldn't. Well, this is the one they shouldn't. I don't believe Indy is competing for a wild card spot but the desire to play spoiler in the AFC seeding fuels the budding rivalry. Houston is still denied their first victory in Indianapolis in team history.
Week 16 - vs Denver Broncos
After an embarrassing loss last week starts to bring back memories of the late season collapse of 2012, this becomes the biggest game of the season so far. For added stakes, the winner of this one claims the rights to home field advantage thorough out the NFL postseason. It's a nail biter, but the Texans don't lay an egg like they did in a similar position last year and punch their ticket as the AFC's top seed.
Week 17 - @ Tennessee Titans
With the one seed locked up already, Houston decides to rest the majority of their starters and not risk any serious injury to a needed player. However, their roster depth is so superior to Tennessee that they go ahead and win the game anyways, capping another twelve victory season and a 5-1 mark in the division.
With a first round bye, Houston avoids playing Cincinnati for a third consecutive year on wild card weekend. Instead, they meet them in the conference semifinals, but to a similar result. Anything short of an AFC championship game appearance this season would have been a disappointment in Houston. With that achieved, it's time to raise the bar.
The best news for Houston is that Denver took care of the heavy lifting for them by defeating the Patriots and coming to Reliant for the championship game. Much like the first meeting, it's a close one that the defense holds off a late push to give the city of Houston their first Super Bowl berth in history.
Unfortunately, that's where the fairy tale ends, as they meet San Francisco in Super Bowl XLVIII in East Rutherford, New Jersey. It's a closer game than the last time they met, but the Niners win by ten as Houston just runs out of chances on offense.
With a Super Bowl berth on their permanent record, this sets the unmistakable goal of championship or bust in 2014.