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Playoffs? Playoffs?

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If you thought this post was a thinly-veiled excuse to link to this epic rant, you're right. But it was inspired by this blurb from Pete Schrager's "15 Burning Questions" column:

7. Is this the year the Houston Texans finally make the playoffs?

Eh, probably not. Houston starts the season with games against four playoff teams from last season in their first five weeks, including the AFC South champion Colts and the AFC North champion Steelers. If they can win three of those five games, they'll be in good shape. If not, it could be another run at 8-8 for the Texans. The truth is, Houston, despite one of the most promising young defensive units in the league and an exciting passing game, still plays in the AFC's toughest division. They'll likely struggle to get past Jacksonville and Indianapolis, let alone Tennessee. It's a matter of timing. And from the looks of it, they may need to wait another one or two years to get over the hump (and out of the cellar), and surpass their rivals in the AFC South.

Off the bat, and I realize this sounds pathetic, I'm just happy that the Texans have evolved to the point where their playoff chances are being considered by the national media. "Houston Texans to the Playoffs" talk used to just be something the "cool kids" at my weekly Dungeons & Dragons games would chat about whilst on Cheetos and Oxy runs. But now? Now, it's legit. Your Houston Texans are a legitimate playoff contender.

Yet I don't see us breaking through to the promised land this year. The first five (5) games this season are simply brutal. And the AFC South is the best division in football. Yes, your e-mails and indignity, NFC East devotees. Your division is stout too. But I think the AFC South is tougher. Ultimately, I think the division schedule is why your Houston Texans fall just short of the playoffs in 2008. I think a playoff berth in the AFC will require an absolute minimum of ten (10) wins, and quite possibly may require eleven (11) victories. I'm just not sure if the boys are Reliant, with that brutal schedule, can get there this year.

That's my feeling right now, anyway. Training camp hasn't started, and anything can happen (including me getting overserved on the Kool-Aid and predicting the Texans go 19-0). I'll save my official prediction of the Texans' record for a later post, but in the meantime...share your thoughts on the Texans' playoff chances in the Comments below.