Texans vs. Titans: The Rare Must-Win Meaningless Game

The Texans head into their final game of the season with more than enough fuel to fire what theoretically should be a resounding victory over the still-alive Tennessee Titans. Not only have the Texans played poorly the past two games, but they were, quite frankly, embarrassing in their home loss to Carolina and utterly revolting in their loss to the Colts. Even when you face the Colts plus the officials, a loss to a team probably uninterested in actually winning, and on national television, magnifies deflating and disappointing.

But the latest heave of timber onto what should be a steadily increasing fire in the belly of a team in dire need of turning the proverbial corner came courtesy of the NFL Pro Bowl voters. The fact that Brian Cushing, Duane Brown and even Connor Barwin were overlooked is a painful slap in the face of this historically unsuccessful Houston Texans franchise.

Could there truly remain any non-Texans fans who have not written this team off as phonies since that lame showing in Indianapolis? Sure, to be kind, they might throw a This-Team-Misses-Matt-Schaub bone, but its disrespect all the same. Read the papers in Cincinnati, New York and Tennessee and you will come across hopeful commentary of only having to face the Texans in the first round. Its widely being assumed to be a win in hand, and we haven’t even finished the regular season!

These Texans have absolutely zero reason to not come out swinging from the opening until the final whistle. If fans observe anything resembling the sloppy and listless play seen the past couple of weeks for perhaps more than a few minute stretch on Sunday, the disappointment will be thorough and certainly team leadership will be fair game for questioning. The fans packing Reliant Stadium will undoubtedly do their part in leading this team through their motivating shouts.

There’s no point in looking back at what got this team to 10-5 or, more appropriately, what brought this team down to 10-5, because undeniably the Texans won some games they would have lost last season, so their record is probably indicative of their quality as a football team. Injuries have played a major role, but the past two weeks the Texans have given back two games most assumed to be shoe-in victories.

In desperate need of generating momentum heading into the playoffs, Sunday is the day where the cream must rise. T.J. Yates and the offense will have Andre Johnson back in the lineup, and the defense should be pretty fired up over the snubs and the return of Wade Phillips to the sideline.

A strong victory to quell rival Tennessee’s playoff hopes will do the confidence lots of justice. There is no league quite like the NFL, where arguably each progressing week seems to present yet another important game of epic historic proportions for underachieving and mistake-riddled franchises like the Houston Texans. But Sunday is nearly upon us and a major opportunity or snare looms.

Should the Texans lose, this team will be written-off and thrown into the “would-coulda-shoulda” pile. But if they win, they will regain respect and something so much more important. They’ll regain belief in themselves. But what’s more, they’ll regain an ounce of redemption for Cushing, Brown, Barwin and others, not to mention their long-suffering fans.

The fact remains that the Texans are first time division champs with their playoff position secured. But unlike experienced playoff teams with rich histories of championships and postseason glory past like the Steelers, Patriots or Ravens, the Texans are in no position to hold back and rest guys up. This Sunday is the day to let it fly. It shouldn’t be treated as anything other than the inaugural playoff game.

Beat Tennessee or check this franchise for a pulse.

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