Being a Texans fan in 2008 has been quite the roller coaster. We had real expectations coming into the season, only to see a brutal opening stretch and a natural disaster contribute (though in no way excuse) a deflating 0-3 start in which every game was played away from the friendly confines of Reliant Stadium.
Then, in the first home game of the year, this happened. And with that, we were all morosely questioning the sweet release that would come with guzzling household cleaning products. Indeed, if you're looking for a signature moment that captures the horrors of Texans fandom, in this or any other season, it's the Rosencopter.
Yet when things looked the darkest, we were treated to a three (3) game winning streak, thanks to home-sweet-home victories over Miami, Detroit, and Cincinnati. Although we were wary of buying into the notion that the Texans had turned some sort of corner, we had hope again. Until Matt Schaub was knocked out for a month, courtesy of Jared Allen going knee-hunting in Minnesota; this meant we were treated to four (4) games with Sage Rosenfels under center, against Baltimore, Indianapolis, Cleveland, and Jacksonville (first MNF game in franchise history!). After winning the last two (2) games of that stretch, your Houston Texans welcomed back Matt Schaub and extended their franchise-best winning streak to four (4) with victories at Green Bay and at home against Bud Adams. While a playoff berth was out of the question, many of us believed our little team had turned a corner. For real this time. We were building something!
And that brings us to the season finale against the Bears tomorrow. Which team are we going to see? The Texans that inspired hope and an era of good feelings? Or the Texans that had you calculating whether your ceiling fan could support your weight? Don't ask me, because neither would surprise me. Far be it for me, however, to let that uncertainty keep me from making ridiculous predictions and acting like I have a clue what we'll see tomorrow. Hit it!
1. The Schaub closes 2008 with a big game against a woeful Chicago pass defense. I'll say Schaub is good for 283 yards through the air, complete with two (2) TD and a frustrating fumble (courtesy of a blindside hit in the pocket). In related news, Kubes and Shanahan remember they have Andre Johnson on the roster and go to him often and early. 'Dre will have 68 yards receiving by halftime.
2. That success through the air is going to be crucial, because Steve Slaton is going to find tough sledding throughout the afternoon. Still, I think we'll see one of his patented how-did-he-do-that breaks from the pile for 22 yards. Total output for Slaton: 85 total yards (70 rushing and 15 receiving) with no trips into the end zone.
3. I'd be lying if I said that the thought of an effective performance by the Houston defense didn't scare the bejeezus out of me. It should scare you, too. Keep the consequences in mind when you see DeMeco Ryans strip the ball from Kyle Orton on a blitz tomorrow and a defensive score.
PUT YOUR NAME ON IT: Unlike your Houston Texans, the Bears are playing for a spot in the postseason. Normally, I'd give the edge to the team with desperation on their side. For some reason, I'm inclined to go the other way tomorrow, and I'll readily admit that my hunch may simply be the result of indigestion and/or my own desperation regarding the avoidance of another losing season. Bears 20, Texans 21.