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Reason to Believe

One reason that the NFL is constantly praised by the resident braintrusts at major media outlets nationwide is the league's enviable parity thanks to the salary cap, revenue sharing and other competitive checks and balances which afford teams the ability to build into a championship-level team quickly.  For example, the past six Super Bowls have involved ten different teams (with only the Patriots making multiple appearances - three).  [Note: if this trend continues, the Texans are virtually assured of a Super Bowl appearance no later than 2020.]  I did not really have a rooting interest in last night's game; my respect and admiration for the historical opportunity possessed by the Patriots was entirely offset by my intense hatred of all things Boston A.B. ("After Bird"), and my general attraction to the underdog failed to materialize thanks to my utter distaste for spoiled brats who turn the NFL Draft into their own birthday party where they sit in the corner and cry until they get to open all their presents, while the rest of the guests and invitees are left to watch the ice cream melt.  As such, I spent most of the game trying to rationalize why the Texans could be next year's Super Bowl Champ.  

  1. The 2006 New York Giants finished 8-8.  The 2007 Houston Texans finished 8-8.  
  2. Houston has better QB play and passing game.  Rarely do I advocate the use of QB rating as an evaluation tool for QB play, but as a general tool, it's not as misleading as, say, a pitcher's wins in baseball.  2007 team QB rating: Houston 86.1, New York Giants 73.0.  Interceptions (21 v. 20) and TDs (24 v. 23) are virtually identical as well.  Houston had a distinct advantage in yards per attempt (7.42 to 6.21) and took less sacks (22 to 28).  Don't forget that it was just earlier this fall that fans and media were calling for the demotion of Prince Eli.  Clearly, he improved his play considerably, but the Texans got equal or better production from Rosenschaub, and that with an injured Andre Johnson and impotent (at times) running game.  
  3. Improving defense.  The Texans of the last quarter of 2007 were a totally different beast defensively, as either Richard Smith was removed of his play-calling duties or grew a pair of gonads in a miraculous (but timely) anatomical show of strength.  Add to that equation the fact that nearly 70% of the Texans' 31 sacks in 2007 came from the Terrific Trio of DeMeco, Mario and Amobi, each of whom practically has a limitless ceiling for his talents, oozes coachability and professionalism and is seemingly lacking only the benefits of playing experience.  If these three men progress at anywhere near the rate that they have thus far, the Texans will have one of the most feared defensive fronts in the game.  Teams that can rightfully claim that moniker are not long for mediocrity.
  4. Easily fixable holes.  Tiki Barber was a great player; now he's fashioning wreaths with Ann Curry and Martha Stewart.  Enter Brandon Jacobs, who's unquestionably a beast, and Ahmad Bradshaw.  There is not a prerequisite to being a Super Bowl Champion that requires you to possess a Hall of Fame running back.  No one, aside from possibly Mike Shanahan, seems to understand that better than Gary Kubiak does.  The running game was effective in 2007 with a very shaky platoon of unproven rookies and achy, plodding veterans.  With an effective passing game and productive offensive line, one does not have to draft Adrian Peterson or Darren McFadden to get to the Super Bowl.  
Feel free to tell me why I am a moron or why I am the hidden love child of Scott Pioli and Ron Jaworski.  I say that the only things standing in between Houston and SB XLIII are (a) one shut-down corner, (b) one slightly amped-up running game and (c) experience for the young'uns.