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Three And Out: Useless Predictions For Sunday's Game(s)

We know what needs to happen for your Houston Texans to garner the first playoff berth in franchise history. Will it? I present to you a very special edition of "Three And Out," where yours truly will boldly predict what is written in the stars for Sunday afternoon for not only Patriots-Texans, but also Chiefs-Broncos, Ravens-Raiders, and Bengals-Jets. To paraphrase Herm Edwards:

"I just tell the truth. I always say if you write something just put your name on it. Just say it was me. Don’t say the source. Who was the source? Herman Edwards Tim? Just put your name on it. You get don't get paid for your opinion and I respect that. But that doesn’t make you right. You have the right to have an opinion just like I have the right to have an opinion..."

Consequently, my opinions:

1. First and foremost, all this playoff chatter is moot if the Texans don't defeat the Patriots. And it would be very Houstonish for the Texans to lay an egg in front of the home crowd in a few days. The later games wouldn't even matter if that happened. But...your Houston Texans won't shoot themselves in the face on Sunday. The Texans win, perhaps because I do not foresee Belichick playing his starters for more than a half. Patriots 17, Texans 27. The dream lives!

2. We head to the late afternoon games cautiously optimistic. Sure, we need two prohibitive underdogs to do our dirty work for us, but stranger things have happened. Exhibit "A": Last weekend, when every team the Texans needed to lose did. Except the Jets. Thanks for that, Indianapolis. Never mind that now. Focus on the positives. At 3:15 p.m. CST, both the Kansas City-Denver and Baltimore-Oakland games kick off.

Although they haven't won a game since before Thanksgiving, the Chiefs have played tough the last three (3) weeks, losing by one score each time. Unfortunately, the Broncos destroyed the Chiefs the last time these squads met. And the game is in Denver. And Brandon Marshall should play. Logic says the Broncos should roll. I, however, am not logical. I'm betting Denver's a bit tight for this one, and Kansas City hangs around long enough to make a play to win it in the end. In Jamaal Charles I trust. Chiefs 17, Broncos 14.

Excelsior! One down, one to go, with two to play! We're so close we can taste it. And man...the Raiders are somewhat capable at home! They've already managed to upset two playoff teams--Eagles and Bengals--in Oakland! Plus, they beat Pittsburgh. In Pittsburgh! And Denver. In Denver! Think about it long enough, and you can easily convince yourself that the Raiders are going to do Houston a solid. Go ahead and do it. It's fun and easy. Unfortunately, I found myself coming back to the fact that the Ravens strike me as a team that's not going to go gently into that good night. Ray Rice, Todd Heap, and Derrick Mason (who has to be desperate to make amends for that horrible drop he had last week) will be too much. Ravens 27, Raiders 17.

3. It comes down to this. You'd rather the Texans were involved in the game that would determine their playoff fate, but losing five out of six games within your division forfeits that right. The Bengals, like the Patriots, have very little to play for. The Jets, on the other hand, have everything to play for. At home and in prime time for all the world to see, no less. There's also the very real possibility that Cincinnati opts to rest and/or limit their starters. I'm guessing the Bengals treat their regular season finale as a real game. For awhile at least; I'd peg it at a half or three quarters. I'm also guessing the Jets take advantage of this fact, just like they did last week. Bengals 20, Jets 27.

Our playoff fantasy ends with an all too familiar whimper; in my estimation, your Houston Texans will be on the outside looking in once the playoffs start because only one, and not two, of the necessary team(s) won after the Texans finished 9-7. The first winning record in franchise history will salve some of the wound, but nowhere close to all of it, especially considering what could've been and how this season's gone. In the end, I'm predicting we'll be left with what we've always been left with after the conclusion of Week 17: Disappointment, mixed with a healthy dose of hope and optimism about the next season. The 2009 season is simply a new path to the same destination.

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