September 4, 2007
Running with the Devil
by Ric Sweeney
Damn all common sense to hell: I’ve been mainlining a daily dose of the Houston Texans ever since their 28-16 victory over the Cowboys two weeks ago. Could this be the year? You know: THE year; the one we’ve all been patiently waiting for since 1994?
And just as I’m about to jump into a big ol’ pile of Schaub, my little fantasy starts to fracture: the offensive line has "potentially frustrating" scrawled across it for the 3,215th year in a row; our secondary looks more awkward than a Travis Henry family reunion; then there’s every single second of 2002-2005 whipping my common sense into a bloody shell of its former self…
I could go all day – there’s actually no shortage of reasons to expect the Texans’ oft-sputtering bandwagon to once again slow to a brisk 10-MPH pace.
If Eddie Van Halen can plant a kiss on David Lee Roth’s cheek and embark on a world tour together, then isn’t this suddenly upside world of ours ready for the Houston Texan to be in the thick of postseason action?
Why, yes – it is, actually, and here’s why: Have you seen their schedule this year? I mean, have you really sat down and seen their schedule? I realize it still exists only on paper but if I squint really hard, maybe dim the lights, I can realistically see anywhere from 9 to 11 wins.
First, the bad news. The Texans play San Diego, New Orleans, Denver and Indianapolis twice. There’s not enough sugar in a box of Fun’n’Dip to coat that likely 0-5 stretch.
Beyond that, however, it gets progressively better. The Texans beat the Browns, Dolphins, Raiders and swept the Jaguars last year and as luck would have it, all four are back on this year’s schedule. The Texans should post at least four victories against that group if not hang another five-oh.
That puts them, conservatively, at 4-6. Hey, stuff the laughter, Jerome: last year they went 6-5 against the Eagles, Colts (squared), Dolphins, Cowboys, Jaguars (squared), Jets, Raiders, Patriots and Browns.
Houston lost twice in 2006 to the Titans by a combined 12 points. Since then, the Titans have regressed while the Texans have progressed. Breaking even with Tennessee is possible and forecasting a sweep doesn’t put us anywhere near a shaky limb.
That makes us 5-7, holmes, with 6-6 pressing it’s hopeful little nose against the glass window of our wildest dreams…. Still with me? You are, aren’t you, you dirty son of a bitch? And loving every last drop. Drink it up, you fatherless children! There’s plenty more where that came from!
They’ll face Kansas City without its best defensive player and Todd Blackledge at QB; an underwhelming Carolina team, perhaps with David Carr under center (Oh, please! Please! Please!); and an Atlanta franchise just four weeks into the “Are you triple-sure Joey Harrington isn’t involved in any illicit off-field behavior… Please?" era.
If I was going to write down “3-0” for that stretch, I’d think long and hard about using a pen before eventually settling on a pencil with a worn-down eraser. Two wins is beyond probable.
And now we’re 7-8…
Throw in what should be an uncontested lay-up against the Buccaneers – the worst team in football – and if my calculations are correct, the Texans would finish 8-8. And here’s the really scary part: 9-7 wouldn’t shock me and 10-6 is closer to reality than fantasy.
If they can just steal a game or two we’re not expecting… next thing you know, it’s 11:59pm and we’re all lined up at our nearby Academy buying 2007 AFC South champion t-shirts.
Ridiculous? Of course. The again, isn’t it high time the Houston Texans caught a monster wave of a break? Or seven? If we were to take a piece of paper, draw a line down the middle of it vertically, and then list on the left all of Houston’s fortuitous breaks thus far in its first five years; and on the right, all of its bad breaks thus far in its first five years, and then have the two sides personified by the various eras of Van Halen, the left side would be the Gary Cherone/post-1996 era while the right would look an awful lot like the Roth/Hagar eras, minus anything after "Poundcake."
But already, 2007 has a different buzz to it. We snatched Schaub from Atlanta’s clutches mere moments before the Vick-supported walls of that franchise came crashing down. We once again used a day one pick on an unknown kid from a small school no one’s ever heard of, but unlike Seth Wand and Jason Babin, my main man Jacoby Jones looks like a legitimate steal. Hell, even Jerome Mathis made it through the preseason without his hamstring going Fred Taylor on us. It’s like the team finally caught up on its karma back payments and are now set to start reaping the rewards.
So here’s to a world where Van Halen reunites and the Texans go… officially? 9-7.
(Give or take a game. Or three.)
Last year, Ric Sweeney predicted the Texans would finish 4-12. He sincerely hopes to have underestimated the team by two games again.
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