In one month and six days, it will have been a decade since the tragedy of 9/11. It will also mark the day our Houston Texans will host the Indianapolis Colts to kick-off the post-lockout 2011 National Football League season. I cannot think of a better way to mark the anniversary of that tragedy by honoring the lives of those lost, while also boisterously sticking it to the terrorists. Bring on the NFL!!! America, f—k yeah!
But let’s get down to business. It wouldn’t be a real NFL season if random people were not writing things on the Internet in August to mark their line in the sand for future bragging rights if/when they hit the long-shot odds and accurately predict a team’s record come January. This is one of those posts.
Now, MDC has already done a wonderful game-by-game breakdown of the Texans’ 2011 schedule and projected results. (He’s surprisingly optimistic given the Texans’ recent history of soul-crushing disappointment, but that’s a concern for another day.) Today I am here to correct the errors of MDC’s ways while also introducing the reading audience to the most troubling paradox of the upcoming NFL Football season:
That the Texans will win the AFC South with a 9-7 record.
And why this is a very, very bad thing.
Intrigued yet? Or are just ready to call me a babbling idiot in the comments (which I’m sure you’ll do anyway.)
Follow me after the jump!
First, we must make a few assumptions:
1. You play to win [the Super Bowl]. Playoff appearances are nice and all, but no one remembers who came in second. Unless they cost you a lot of money in Vegas. Also, if you’re not first, you’re last.
2. The Oilers once won double-digit games and then blew a 35-3 lead in a playoff game. We consider this to have ruined the season. This in all likelihood destroyed the franchise as we knew it. Similar results by the Texans will lead to similar characterizations by us (or just me?). We are trying to avoid this from ever happening again.
3. Just making it to the playoffs is not worthy of a parade.
Now, with that settled, here’s how the Texans go 9-7.
Indianapolis – W (because if the Texans lose this game, everything changes. And I just do not want to consider living in that world.)
@ New Orleans – L (because it’s not like the Texans actually signed Joseph AND Scrabble. Our best defense might be to leave everyone open and let Drew Brees’ head explode from an overload in options)
Pittsburgh – L (because this is exactly the kind of team we have trouble with. I do not have any better analysis than that. I think the Steelers regress this year, but they have their way with us in week 4.)
Oakland – W (though this is precisely the kind of game the Texans tend to overlook and play down to their competition. Remember last year when the Raiders threw to an open tight end on nearly every play and the Texans did next to nothing about it? Yeah, lucky to escape with a W there… thank you, Gradkowski! Expect similar results this time, even if Oakland will also be historically bad this year.)
@ Baltimore – L (I think Baltimore goes to the Super Bowl this year, so this pick is strongly related to that sentiment)
@ Tennessee – W (I think we manage to sweep the Hasselbeck/Locker combo. I also think Chris Johnson is injured by this point. He’s due. I know it’s wrong of me to root for injuries. I also do not care.)
Jacksonville – W (the Texans routinely whoop Jacksonville at home. Even in years when we are terrible.)
Cleveland – W (I like Colt McCoy, but not enough to think he can overcome his running back’s Madden cover jinx.)
@ Tampa Bay – L (because this is where the pressure of a playoff run starts to hurt the good guys. No one has really played well under pressure for this franchise. Okay, except for you, Andre. You’re cool.)
@ Jacksonville – L (because you can’t stop Blaine Gabbert. You can only hope he’ll throw the ball right to the other team in a bowl game and cost a certain someone a big bet on Bodog.)
Atlanta – L (yup, 3 losses in a row immediately following 3 wins in a row. How very Texan.)
@ Cincinnati – W (because it’s the Bungles, who might be lucky to win 2 games this year.)
Carolina – W (but for the same reasons the Raiders game makes me nervous… Carolina could sneak up on the Texans and everyone at this time of the year.)
@ Indianapolis – L (Peyton will need this game more than the Texans will.)
Tennessee – W (in playing for their playoff lives, the Texans dispatch the BE-SFs at home and secure their first ever playoff berth, along with their first division title – because Indy is finishing 7-9 and the Titans and Jaguars finish way, way below that.)
And then everything will go to hell.
Why is that you ask? How could following up a 6-10 year with a 9-7 record and a playoff berth be a bad thing? Well… go back to our assumptions.
Because I think we all expect the Texans to be the token team to get absolutely f—kstomped at home on Wild Card weekend. It seems to happen every year. Now, couple that with the fact that McNair will still be giddy over just being 9-7 and making it to the playoffs………..
Next thing you know, Gary Kubiak will get a 4-year contract extension. He’s in a contract-year, ya know. Same for Rick Smith. Which means the Texans will be subjected to a whole ‘nother offseason or two of Smithiak. This is not a good thing. How about we call this the "Romeo Crennel Corollary"? If you may remember, in 2007 Coach Romeo "led" the surprising Cleveland Browns to a 10-6 record and a near playoff berth behind the pro-bowl season of Derek Anderson (yes – Derek Anderson!!) and the free agent legs of Jamal Lewis. Cleveland did fail to make the playoffs, yet Browns management awarded Crennel and his staff with contract extensions through the 2011 season. 12 months prior to that Crennel was nearly fired and was saved from a mercy killing for reasons no one can explain to this day.
This is widely considered to have been a mistake by Cleveland management.
The same thing will be said of Houston management if they fail to pay attention to their history books.
Now, do not get me wrong. I like Gary Kubiak. He seems like a nice guy. I really like him as an offensive coordinator. He is just not a leader of men. Which means he is not head coaching material. The last five years have made that abundantly clear.
Case in point: who the F punts on 4th and 4 from the opponent’s 34 yard line in Week 2???
Gary Kubiak as a Head Coach is like the overmatched NCAA basketball team trying to protect a first round lead against a big conference opponent. They got the lead by playing hyper-aggressive and taking/making a lot of 3-point shots…….. but then they forget who they are and try to "sit" on the lead for the second half. Eventually blowing the lead and losing and wondering what happened. This is exactly how Kubiak coaches. The Houston Texans lack a killer instinct because they take after their coach, who has yet to see a big lead he cannot squander.
There you have it… a 9-7 season that is actually a potential disaster in the making.
Accordingly, allow me to be the first to say: Smithiak must go! Before it's too late.
 See generally Edwards, Herm (2005-ish).
 See Bobby, Ricky, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2007)
 Yes, this actually happened. And for those that doubt my sources: http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=3219494
 I am well aware that the Texans did end up winning that game. I am also well aware that the Football Gods did not look fondly upon Gary Kubiak’s act of cowardice, and they subsequently exacted their revenge throughout the rest of the season.
 So I am mixing sports metaphors. So what?
 Though I gotta say – the offseason moves the team has made in the first two weeks post-lockout have been nothing short of inspiring and intelligent. Gotta give credit where credit is due. But let’s not Press Our Luck here. "No whammies, no whammies… STOP!"