When I predicted your Houston Texans would go 9-7 this season, I was greeted with a combination of disbelief, hate, anger, fury, rage, confusion, doubt, and inquiries into my manhood. All legitimate, I might add. I did myself no favors with my behavior in the late 90s. I WAS TRYING TO FIND MYSELF, OKAY? IT DOESN'T MATTER HOW I GOT THERE! JUST THAT I GOT THERE! JUDGE NOT, LEST YE BE JUDGED!
What was I talking about? Oh, yeah...the 2011 Houston Texans. I think they're going 9-7. My game-by-game breakdown is after the jump.
Week One: Your Houston Texans will beat the Indianapolis Colts. While I refuse to believe Peyton Manning will not play in this game until Kerry Collins/Curtis Painter/Bert Jones trots out on the Colts' first possession, I'll admit logic dictates Peyton won't be playing on Sunday. There is no player more valuable to his team than Peyton Manning. Crazy part? I'd still pick the Texans to win even if Peyton was playing. 1-0.
Week Two: Your Houston Texans will beat the Miami Dolphins. Not even Reggie Bush can save them from defeat here. 2-0.
Week Three: Your Houston Texans will lose to the New Orleans Saints. Sorry to dash your hopes of the perfect season so early. The good news is that I think it'll be an incredibly entertaining game to watch. In retrospect, anyway. Methinks you'll be enraged immediately afterwards. This one stinks of a dramatic finish. 2-1.
Week Four: Your Houston Texans will lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers. While I'm sure many Texans fans can convince themselves of a win here based on perceived matchups, I'm not one of those fans. But, hey...maybe we can leave the roof open and sweat the Steelers out! They'll be in black jerseys, you know! Home field advantage, baby! 2-2.
Week Five: Your Houston Texans will beat the Oakland Raiders. Nothing really interesting to say here, so I'll simply divulge that I just opened a Michelob Ultra. We usually keep a six-pack of that in the fridge for when my mother and/or sister visit. Bereft of all other beer this evening (thanks, willingness to consider drinking in the company of one's infant son and/or dog as not drinking alone!), I'm left with Ultra. For a lesser man, this would be emasculating. For me, it's par for the course. 3-2.
Week Six: Your Houston Texans will lose to the Baltimore Ravens. The good news is that this game is a rare 3:05 p.m. CDT start, so you'll have a full morning and half an afternoon to get yourself ready for the game. I recommend stocking up on Michelob Ultra. 3-3.
Week Seven: Your Houston Texans will beat Bud Adams' Army of Darkness. Back above .500 they go. You'll now be treated to approximately 12,903 articles with the theme of "Same Old Texans?" for the next week. It'll be awesome. 4-3.
Week Eight: Your Houston Texans will lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars. They shouldn't, but I believe they will. Because it's what the Texans do, you see. Are we watching the same old Texans? 4-4.
Sorry for the delay. I had to punch myself in the face. And then get another Michelob Ultra. I'm good now.
Week Nine: Your Houston Texans will beat the Cleveland Browns. As a Texas Ex, prior to the 2010 NFL Draft, I remember thinking that Colt McCoy could have an eight to ten year career as a backup QB in the NFL. He enters his second season as the unquestioned starter in Cleveland. This makes me happy as a Longhorn alum, and I hope he has sustained success this year. Sadly for him, I do not think said success will materialize at the hands of a Wade Phillips defense in Week Nine of the 2011 NFL regular season. 5-4.
Week Ten: Your Houston Texans will lose to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Josh Freeman & Co. will do it for people like you who keep it turned on. You can tell everybody this is your loss. It may be quite simple, but now that it's done...I hope you don't mind, I hope you don't mind, that I put down into words, how wonderful life is when you're in the world.
Week Eleven: Bye. I've got the Texans at 5-5 right now. That's not awful, right? You're not nearly as disgusted as you thought you'd be. Well, save for all the talk about Michelob Ultra. That was unexpected, and it's inexcusable. A thousand apologies. Personally, I blame everyone but myself.
Week Twelve: Your Houston Texans will beat the Jacksonville Jaguars. Revenge? Simpler minds would call it that. I'll just say that I think the Jags, while feisty to the tune of six or seven wins this year, will not sweep the Texans. Admittedly, that could be the Ultra talking. 6-5.
Week Thirteen: Your Houston Texans will beat the Atlanta Falcons. Maybe it's that I'm not buying Matt Ryan's ascendance to the upper echelon of NFL QBs. Maybe it's that I still don't think Roddy White is fit to be mentioned in the same breath as Andre Johnson. Maybe it's that I refuse to accept that a team featuring Dunta Robinson as a starting CB is a true Super Bowl contender. Or maybe it's just that I've convinced myself that George Harrison's "Got My Mind Set On You" is somehow code for Texans 30, Falcons 21. It's impossible to know for sure. 7-5.
Week Fourteen: Your Houston Texans will beat the Cincinnati Bengals. As a fellow Katy High School alum, it pains me to ponder the fate that awaits young Andy Dalton this season. He deserves better. Will I break out into a solemn rendition of "Katy, Our Katy" before this game, ending the song in tears shortly before kickoff? Sources say yes. 8-5.
Week Fifteen: Your Houston Texans will beat the Carolina Panthers. Cam Newton is somehow considered a starting QB in the NFL. That's your joke. Sometimes, they write themselves. 9-5.
Week Sixteen: Your Houston Texans will lose to the Indianapolis Colts. If Peyton Manning is playing in this game, I think it's a foregone conclusion. If he's not, it just smells like one of those games the Texans should win but won't. Winning would give Houston a huge leg up in the division race, and I'm not sure that we'd know what to do with ourselves if the Texans were in the catbird seat. That could be what the kids call "stinkin' thinkin'." I don't know how to handle the Texans' success, and I don't know that the Texans do either. 9-6.
Week Seventeen: Your Houston Texans will lose to Bud Adams' Army of Darkness. A win here would mean 10 wins, which would be a franchise record. It would be glorious. This is why we can't have nice things. It'll be a painful loss, I reckon. 9-7.
Nine wins. Disappointing, isn't it? Well, don't despair, because I think the Titans and Jaguars are going to win less games than the Texans. That leaves the mighty Colts.
As I observed in the Week One dicta, there is no player more valuable to his team than Peyton Manning. If he misses multiple games, I do not believe the Colts can recover. Look at what happened in 2008. Peyton missed the entire preseason and, though he started the regular season under center, was noticeably off for the first few weeks of the season. Then he rounded into shape and was Peyton Freaking Manning again, leading the Colts to a 12-4 record on the strength of nine straight wins to close out the regular season.
This year? The Colts are faced with the very real possibility that Manning is not ready to go next week. Plus a handful of weeks after that. While I'm an admitted amateur prognosticator here, I don't think the Colts can afford that. Even if Peyton comes back quickly, I'm betting it'll take a few weeks for him to be PEYTON MANNING again. This year, if the Colts are fortunate enough to get him back quickly, I think it'll be too late.
Houston Texans: 2011 AFC South Champions.
I can't believe I just typed that. Michelob Ultra's a helluva drug.